This famous Henry Higgins lament seems to be validated time and time again in the business world. As Henry sees it – “Why is thinking something women never do? And why is logic never even tried? Straightening their hair is all they ever do. Why don’t they straighten up the mess inside?”
Men seem to have had this question plague them since the dawn of time. Yesterday when I was in the car with my husband coming back from Home Depot, he turned the radio on to listen to one of his favorite programs – the Tom Martino show. Now this guy does do some good things, but yesterday I was ready to pull him through the radio and beat him upside the head. Because yesterday he was waxing so eloquently on what he termed as the “girl code”.
As Martino put it, the girl code consists of things like: why is it that a girl has to ask permission of another girl to go out with their former boyfriend once they have broken up – or did you know that girls have to get together in even numbers because girls will pair up and someone will be left out – he even had a caller who asked him at what age to girls go to “bitch” school (and then he changed the word to bit because in his infinite wisdom he did not think the word bitch could be used on the air) and of course then they got on the subject of hormones. Now I love a good joke just like everyone else, but to put that drivel on the airwaves when we still have men telling women to “doll up and wipe the dust off of your makeup if you want to get ahead” it totally irresponsible in my mind. When you are looked upon as a public figure and have the ability to influence a great number of people by the medium you use, you have a responsibility to think about what you are saying and how it can perpetuate bad behavior.
And then I was given an article today (the link to it is at the end of my rant) about an eight year study that chronicled the careers of 132 Stanford MBA graduates, more than half of whom were women, to determine their gender related characteristics and how that related to them getting ahead in the workplace. No surprises there since the study found that “although masculine women are seen as more competent than feminine women, they are also seen as less socially skilled and consequently, less likeable and less likely to be promoted.
So, on one end we verbally lambast women for the “girl code” and on the other hand we don’t promote them when they take on more masculine characteristics because they are less likeable. Once again the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome rears its ugly head for women. The study goes on to say that the key to success or failure for women in business is to know when to lay on the aggression, selectively from the start. “You need to be an amateur anthropologist, go into the situation and really pay attention very carefully to what is really happening.”
So I suggest you read the article for yourself. And share it with a male counterpart to really get the conversation going.