Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Problem with Women and Work 2

Piaras replies in the comments to this post and indeed to the posts of That Girl, Babblogue, Damien and Sinead. I am putting my response as a post in the attempt to continue the discussion and the comments section frequently does not a good reply make in terms of composition.

Hmm... people seem to have completely misread my original post. I agree the original title was a bit troll-like, but it was meant to encourage discussion rather than cause offense.

Oh I don’t think many people misread your post at all Piaras. And you have indeed encouraged discussion and for that matter a lot of humour!

I'm not talking about being able to tell jokes, I'm talking about being able to stand in front of an audience and showcase your achievements.

Oh I think we got that loud and clear. What you seem to have failed to recognise is that in your pinpointing of what you perceive as some sort of failure in women’s presentation skills you have put this ahead of the many other issues, which keep women attached to sticky floors, or hitting against glass ceilings.

You said that you felt that funds should be spent on public speaking rather that targeting women into certain professions. In my post I highlighted the fact that many believe these programmes do work and only last week a UK government report highlighted good practice in this area. The identifying of women not following a male ethos or performance standard fails to see women as different in fact is comes across as you wanting women to be the same when there are many reasons why we don’t want to be and in fact are prevented from being.

Statistics are showing that women score better than men, but yet they still don't get as many top-level jobs. While having children plays a factor in this, I think that men might be just talk themselves up a bit more.

No disagreement there Piaras, just interested in why men talking themselves up more is not seen as actually being the problem – rather than suggesting women should engage in similar activities.

I work in PR, a profession dominated by women so either I work with a load of comedians or with people that are passionate about their work and not afraid to shout about their results.

Why do we need to shout? Whilst I would agree there are many working in PR and indeed they were one of the first areas where I saw many women at the top (Terry Prone, Bride Rosney, Brenda O’Hanlon, Mary Finan, Rhona Blake etc). It is not the same in all professions and there is a multitude of research out there which indicates many reasons for the inequalities – I just argue that learning to shout loud or how to speak in public would not be a leading solution of the ‘problem’ and that employers and other stakeholders including men need to reflect on their part.


At 07:52, Anonymous Piaras Kelly said...

I'm not talking about presentation skills. I'm talking about women being more proud of their avhievements.

With regards to attracting women to certain industries, that seems to be working, but statistics are still showing that they are falling behind men, which is annoying to read because one would have hoped that the playing field would have begun to level out.

Why would men talking themselves up be a problem? I'm not talking about lying about therir CV.

There's bviously a mutlitude of reasons out there for inequalities, I never said there wasn't. I was simply picking up on a casual observation and pondering.

At 10:17, Anonymous Simon McGarr said...

Come on Piaras, engage with the real meat of the question!

Your post's implication, whether you were aware of it or not, was that women need to act more like men do to get ahead in business. Men are successful because they do X, so women should do X too to be successful.

Damien spotted that straight away.

But the thing is, if the world is to be bearable, it isn't right that half of its inhabitants need to bend themselves to the expectations of the other half to be judged acceptable. So if men are more likely to be talking themselves up, and women are more likely to be quietly going about their work (a gross generalisation we'll use for the sake of discussion) then what is to be questioned is not why women don't behave more like one of the lads.

It is why the decision making processes for promotion do not take that broad difference into account. My tentative answer is that decisions are being made by men who are as unaware of their biases as your post suggested you might be.


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