Sex & Success: What We Think (But Can't Say)

On this blog, we can (and often do) say whatever we want. Our discussions reveal how biased we are versus others -- or how biased others are versus ourselves. Sometimes we don't realize we are prejudiced until others expose us.

Along these lines, I haven't been able to stop thinking about a 20/20 television episode I happened to catch way back on September 15 titled Race & Sex: What We Think But Can't Say that tackled the psychology of stereotyping and the self-fulfilling power of internalized prejudice.

This so-called "stereotype effect" has been found in study after study of women, according to NYU psychology professor Joshua Aaronson, who appeared on the 20/20 segment. "We found that just reminding women that they were college students at a selective college overcame the gender gap. However, when we remind them that they're women, the gap widens."

20/20 asked The Kaplan Education and Test Prep Co. (coincidentally owned by my employer, The Washington Post Co.) to test women's academic performance after watching blatantly sexist commercials. Women who viewed the commercials performed worse on the tests than women who had not seen the commercials. Another researcher, Jane Elliott, puts her findings this way. "When you are told you're superior, you act up to that." And vice-versa.

I'm not a psychologist or medical researcher. So my thoughts are decidedly unscientific. But these studies made me wonder about the positive impact of feminism, the messages from my mom and my teachers and even television that I absorbed every day growing up in the 1970s and '80s: Girls can do anything.

It also made me think of the negative messages from way back when that were equally ubiquitous. Their accompanying jingles still ring in my head: Girls have to be pretty and sexy ("we must, we must, we must increase our bust -- the bigger the better the tighter the sweater the boys are dependent on us"), nice girls don't let on when they are smarter than men ("men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses"), and my all-time favorite: "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never, never let you forget you're a man...'cause I'm a woman."

So think about it: When have you been told you were inferior or superior? Better or worse because of your gender or race or age? How did it change you? What prejudice do you see in our culture today? And have we flipped some of our "girl" negativity to our sons?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 30, 2006; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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There was an article in Baltimore Sun yesterday regarding college admission. there are more females in college than males.

Father of 4 - I thought of you right away. The article touched on the fact that boys tend to be underachievers in school more than girls. They more often have lower grades with high SAT scores. There was mention of the fact that non-cognitive skills were involved. Qualities such as sitting still and patience are stronger among girls.

Basically, a lot of boys do very well on testing, but not so great with their grades. Interesting. At least one college is adjusting their admissions by accepting lower GPA's with higher SAT's. This is not discriminatory because any girls who fall into that category would also be accepted.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-te.md.towson29oct29,0,4992518.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

Posted by: mj | October 30, 2006 7:10 AM

Interesting topic.

I'd say the best thing my father ever did for me was treat me as his kid, NOT as his daughter. When I decided to repaint my (Ford) Bronco, he showed me how to do it, from start (sanding), to middle (primer), to the finish (new paint job). He never once alluded that this might not 'be my thing' because I was a girl.

I'm not sure if I'm saying we should completely strip gender-based references for all boys and girls, but other times, I think it would be a really good idea.

Posted by: ilc | October 30, 2006 7:23 AM

Yes the pendulum has swung against boys, especially on the TV. Look at the commercials; the men are shown as clueless, klutzes, incompetent, stupid or losers, while the women are the ones competently running the house, fixing it up, and generally keeping their husbands from blowing it up or killing themselves.

I fully intend to make sure my son/daughter, when I am blessed with one, knows how to cook, build furniture, operate power tools safely, plant a garden, change their oil, what the 'intentional grounding' rule is and how to bunt a runner over to second base. If they want to be a cook or a mechanic, I'll support their choice, and I will never tell them that they cannot do something because of the sex they happen to be.

As for "sex and success", yes I have! :)

Posted by: John | October 30, 2006 7:31 AM

Talk to high school kids. They are the future. The boys cook and clean, the girls build things and work in the yard, etc. They have been raised by parents who believe that the sexes are equal. John, don't worry about tv. Keep your child busy with all those excellent pursuits, and s/he won't have time to watch the insipid programming that tv offers to us.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 30, 2006 7:40 AM

An interesting question. I've grown up with two clashing (and misleading) stereotypes: as an Asian, I'm very good at math while as a girl, I'm not so good at math. Which one wins?

My parents never really influenced one stereotype one way or the other (certainly not the one about Asians!) The expectations and influences came from OUTSIDE the home. I grew up with the same tired cliches as Leslie - a woman's success was measured by the man they snared("marry a doctor") rather than their own accomplishments. But my teachers, friends and acquaintances always made the assumption that I was a math whiz because of my ethnicity (do people really think of China as filled with 1.3 billion math whizs?). Then, the thought was I would go on to success on my own efforts - I could become the doctor or scientist or engineer or any other science/math based career.

Posted by: which one? | October 30, 2006 8:00 AM

This is interesting because the most sexist, backward thing that was ever said to me came from an internship manager. She was an ivy leaguer and thought she was oh so important, but couldn't connect well with anyone around her because of her attitude.

I was her intern for the summer. One day towards the end of my time there she took me into an office and told me that if my husband was going to succeed as an executive, which was what he wants to do someday, that I was going to have to lose my hick dialect and learn how to entertain. I was shocked and ask her what she meant by entertain and she said "well, you are going to have to be responsible for dinner parties and are going to be expected to clean up well and go out to dinner with executives." She also constantly compared me to another girl who always got her nails done and she also told me that if I wanted children I would never be able to have a position like hers. So much for mentoring young college students!

So, like I have said before, sometimes it's the women who hold each other down and make each other feel bad about ourselves. I felt like telling her boss who seemed like a very big feminist what she said, but I thought why bother. No one likes her so that in itself is the best revenge.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 8:01 AM

Father of 4 sky report from my two year old. She woke up today and ran to the window and said the sky looked like a rainbow and it did with bold pastels that seemed to melt right into the rising sun. It was very pretty.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 8:03 AM

"Look at the commercials; the men are shown as clueless, klutzes, incompetent, stupid or losers, while the women are the ones competently running the house, fixing it up, and generally keeping their husbands from blowing it up or killing themselves."

Aren't most of the above written by men who are reflecting their childhood experiences with their fathers??

Posted by: DZ | October 30, 2006 8:08 AM

My family comes from a country stricken with poverty, discrimination, and where women manage the house and raise the children. As I was brought up in the U.S., these gender expectations became less important than my education. My parents came to the states wanting for me something better. They taught me the importance my education, career pursuits, and financial independency. Things are changing back home, but I believe such basic rights as education and equal pay are key for women of color around the world.

Posted by: momtobe | October 30, 2006 8:13 AM

To paraphrase something a friend of mine says:

"I don't believe in equality between the sexes. I've always thought women were far superior to men and I would never want a man to think he was my equal."

Yes, I think there's a culture of discrimination against men by women today, and there has been for some time. It's still a bit too early to look for changes in equal representation of women in high powered government roles, for example, but it's coming. The times, they are a changin'.

Posted by: Kate | October 30, 2006 8:15 AM

Yes the pendulum has swung against boys, especially on the TV. Look at the commercials; the men are shown as clueless, klutzes, incompetent, stupid or losers, while the women are the ones competently running the house, fixing it up, and generally keeping their husbands from blowing it up or killing themselves.

---------------------------------

But the women come across as no-fun perfectionists - who spend the day running around with Windex bottles. The klutzes are at least likable.

Posted by: to john | October 30, 2006 8:22 AM

I was a child of the '80s, and I never grew up feeling that there was anything I couldn't do. It never even occurred to me that there were real differences in ability between boys and girls.

Imagine my surprise when as a college sophomore, I attended a management class full of male business majors. I'd never heard such a load of virulent crap -- women can't be bosses because they're too catty and emotional; they'd never agree to work for a chick; women shouldn't be taking jobs away from men when they're just going to quit and have babies, anyway.

By that time, of course, I was far too old to let these troglodytes' comments make me feel bad about myself. Instead, I felt bad for them, because surely they'd face a reality check when they entered the workforce.

Posted by: NewSAHM | October 30, 2006 8:24 AM

Wow! I was just thinking about all these questions over the weekend when my fourth grader daughter announced that she was "just not good at math." where did that come, I wondered? Where did she hear that? And I began to wonder about all the times girls announce this and at least in my daughter's case, follow it up with a torrent of tears, and then in certain instances, the parent utters some version of "don't worry your pretty little head about all that" and the child basically stops progressing in math. I certainly had the urge to do just that this weekend.

In my daughter's case, she has a male teacher for the first time this year. And some part of me started to wonder if maybe he had different expectations for the girls and the boys in the class -- which never occurred to me when m son had a female teacher. do you think it makes a difference -- the sex of the teacher?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 30, 2006 8:24 AM

Basically, a lot of boys do very well on testing, but not so great with their grades. Interesting. At least one college is adjusting their admissions by accepting lower GPA's with higher SAT's. This is not discriminatory because any girls who fall into that category would also be accepted.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-te.md.towson29oct29,0,4992518.story?coll=bal-home-headlin

----------------------------------

There is a less sinister reason for this.
GPA tends to correllate better with success in college, because it better reflects a students willingness to take responsibility for learning. SATs were intended to predict success in college and they are failing at this task. College admissions will never be perfect, but your allegation is unfair.

Posted by: to mj | October 30, 2006 8:30 AM

"women shouldn't be taking jobs away from men when they're just going to quit and have babies, anyway."

Um, isn't that what you did? I mean, quit and have a baby? So didn't your class have a point, sort of?

Posted by: to NewSAHM | October 30, 2006 8:31 AM

My big worry is the number of students who pick elementary ed that didn't like math and science at all. I worry that many kids must hit teachers who might (unintentionally) pass on their distaste for these subjects.

Posted by: to Armchair Mom | October 30, 2006 8:35 AM

I was also raised to believe I could do anything back in the 60s and 70s. I was in engineering with all guys. I never really developed those 'female' skills scarry talked about: hosting parties (much less the acclaimed themed parties the rest of the neighborhood ladies seem to thrive on), get nails done, etc. Heck, I never really learned to apply makeup! I never felt inferior when I was working with guys. Now that I'm at home, I do feel inferior to all those SAHMs in the neighborhood. I just can't be a chameleon.

Posted by: dotted | October 30, 2006 8:39 AM

I graduated from high school in 1984, and what I felt was a girl had to be everything. Not just pretty or polite, but pretty, polite, going to a high-powered university with an impressive major and a fantastic summer internship/career waiting(usually doctor/lawyer/business). It was too much. Do we have to be everything?Meanwhile, I have had two college experiences in which men were in the minority.In one case, the college had only recently become co-ed. It seemed that the men being admitted were not very bright, and used their minority status to manipulate students, teachers, and administrators. Some of them got away with shoddy work, and awful behavior. This whole thing was facilitated by women as much as men. It wasn't a very good time to be a young woman.
I do believe the young people today have it all together more than we did. I certainly encourage my son to pursue what interests him, not what is the most lucrative/popular career. And he will certainly go off to college knowing how to do his own laundry and how to clean a toilet!

Posted by: barb | October 30, 2006 8:43 AM

I think feminism definitely had a positive influence on me. Both of my parents told me that I could do anything I wanted to do. My father taught me how to throw a football, change a tire, and coached my little league baseball team. My mother was a stay at home mom for part of my childhood, but she made it very clear through words and actions, that she and my dad were equals. I am absolutely positive that the self-confidence and, maybe more importantly, the options my parents gave me enabled me to ignore the inevitable sexism I encountered later in life.

And I honestly can't recall ever witnessing overt sexism until I was in college, but it could be I just wasn't as aware of it. I do, however, remember being absolutely stunned at the views of a man in one of my college seminars, when he insisted that his wife would stay at home and support his career and raise his children because that was what she was "supposed" to do. Until that moment I hadn't realized there were still people like that in the world.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | October 30, 2006 8:44 AM

to mj - I didn't think that there was anything sinister, and I certainly didn't mean to be alleging anything. I just thought it was interesting. FWIW, my underachieving high school student with GPA below 3.0 and high SAT scores is now a college freshman (not at towson university). The child is my daughter.

I do understand the idea that GPA is a better indicator of college completion, but I also think that maturity plays a part. My daughter is still working on her procrastination tendencies and I am already seeing improvement over her high school work ethic.

Posted by: mj | October 30, 2006 8:47 AM

Aronson. Not Aaronson.

Posted by: Ryan | October 30, 2006 8:55 AM

Too early in the morning - I had read the Towson approach backwards so my reply makes no sense. A few liberal arts colleges have moved away from SATs entirely so that was what was on my radar. (I am a prof so I find the admissions question more interesting than I should). Most schools are just trying to find a way to correct for whatever they perceive to be out of balance at their school & the tools are imperfect.

Posted by: sorry mj | October 30, 2006 8:56 AM

I specialize in interface development for computer software, because I prefer it to "back-end" coding. I do actually still some back-end coding in one or two languages, which are on my resume, but if you examine my resume, I don't stress these skills. But my interface skills are hardly "soft" - there is some serious technical work involved in what I do. I read lots of boring journals and can speak acronym with the best programmer out there ;)

So I went to one of those "team" job interviews a few years back, and one of the people I had to talk to really wasn't a fit for my skill set. The person I was supposed to speak to had a family emergency, so they asked this man to sit in. He focused in on one line item on my resume - work done three years previously using a proprietary database and coding language. It is the only time this language shows up on my resume.

I explained what I had done in the language, which was just beyond a beginner's level of coding, maybe an early mid-level developer. It was on my resume to show that I had experience and exposure to the language, but it was not mentioned in my overview and was generally minimized on the resume. (One of those resume gurus told me to keep it on in this manner.)

So we talked for a bit, and when I gave him the "was there anything I can clear up for you" question, I got a doozy of an answer. He told me something along the lines that since I wasn't an expert in that one line-item I was pretty much "useless". (Gee, that's always nice to hear!)

I was ready to counter this, but he continued. Since I didn't have "any technical skills" (what?!?!?), but I obviously knew how to communicate intelligently and "cleaned up well" (I was wearing a suit for the interview), then he thought I'd only be useful writing documentation and speaking to clients.

But wait for the punchline....this was because "his guys were so incredibly smart, they just didn't know how to communicate or figure out what to wear." Because I guess being smart and being professional are mutually exclusive.

I managed to remain pleasant, somehow. I credit that to my mother, who is a combination of Miss Manners and Martha Stewart.

Basically, I was being told "well, aren't you pretty for such a stupid girl". I have been hit on in the office before, and have dealt with it gracefully and in a manner that has never impeded my professional growth. It's something many more mature male colleagues have commented on, actually - my ability to handle the sexist idiots and to let bygones be bygones. But to be told in an interview that my professional skills were lacking but that I looked nice?

Despite getting a positive vibe from all the other interviewers, I didn't get the job (duh). I didn't consider it a great loss. Who'd want to work for someone with that attitude - male or female (because I've run across women who have actually held the same attitude, just didn't express it so bluntly)?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | October 30, 2006 9:12 AM

Re: TV Men being persecuted

Hey, at least all the fat, hapless schlubs get hot wives and girlfriends!

Posted by: Kevin in AK | October 30, 2006 9:16 AM

I've noticed at local playgroups that toddler GIRLS carrying extra weight are referred to as chubby or fat babies. The BOYS, however, are said to be future football players or future athletes. Ugh.. this is how it starts...

Posted by: Kristen | October 30, 2006 9:16 AM

I was raised to believe I could do anything I wanted - be anything I wanted - and to never put myself in a position to rely on anyone else to meet my basic needs. Lots of girl power in my family with nine out of ten cousins/siblings being female. My rude awakening came when I hit the job market. As a paralegal, I had collateral duties of getting the attorneys lunch and coffee. The male paralegal I worked with got invited TO lunch and happy hours. His job was seen as a stepping stone while mine was seen as a career. I continued on with my education thinking I could escape such gender issues in a different field. After receiving a Masters from the top school in the US for my field, I still ran into the same gender stereotypes when in meetings with mostly male counterparts. Hon - can you get us some coffee? I don't even drink coffee... Now, ten years into my professional career, it happens less. Maybe things are changing?

Posted by: M | October 30, 2006 9:18 AM

You could always ask them if their legs were broke or tell them to get their own.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 9:21 AM

The point I was making about men being shown as incompetent on TV is it is pretty much everywhere, not just in the sit-coms (which have a lot of them too). The commercials are replete with it, from the man in his truck who refuses to use his computer navigational system, to the one blowing up his grill (something you'd assume a man should know how to do) while his wife shows off the blinds, to the man doing a belly dance in his underware while his wife talks about phone service choices. I do like the Vonage commercial with the ditzy blond wanting to go "play with the dolphins", though. :)

Clueless women hardly ever shown on TV any longer because of the backlash that takes place; white men are the last group that can be shown to be stupid. While none of these are to be considered role models for developing male minds, I wonder if there is some form of impact on them anyway.

Posted by: John | October 30, 2006 9:22 AM

My 5th grader separated boys and girls this year for math and science as a result of fairly recent studies showing girls start to lag in math and science around this age. The idea is that girls will be less reluctant to speak up and participate/question in classes without boys. Anyone else seen this with their children? Does it work to keep girls interested in math and science?

Also a 1984 high school graduate, the first time I faced outright sexism was in college, at the University of Pennsylvania, in a Wharton finance class. The handful of women in the class had to stand up and/or walk to the front of the class to have a question answered while the professor (relatively young man) called on the men immediately. I switched to a college in the South where it was much more egalitarian, men and women were both called on in class, and it seemed as if women were encouraged to succeed in class much more than they were at Penn. I still find this surprising.

Posted by: Stacey | October 30, 2006 9:23 AM

Oops, "my 5th grader's school"

I need more coffee.

Posted by: Stacey | October 30, 2006 9:26 AM

If you're taking a job interview as a forum on you, you're mistaken. An interview can be a way to set salary for an internal hire. It can be used to meet an affirmative action goal for interviews. The purpose of an interview might be to give the interviewer experience in interviewing. You might be playing a part in a statistical selection: if 30 qualified people apply, interview 10 and hire the next person who is better than any you've interviewed so far.

Posted by: Yashu | October 30, 2006 9:32 AM

'While none of these are to be considered role models for developing male minds'

I talk with my kids about how commercials are meant to get your attention and be amusing. They realize tv shows and commercials are not realistic.

'White men are the last group that can be shown to be stupid'

unfortunately that is true. I remember my dad complaining about the male roles on tv when I was a kid, so I guess this is not new.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 30, 2006 9:35 AM

'Hon - can you get us some coffee'

really, just say, no. Or sorry, I don't drink coffee. worked for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 9:37 AM

"Clueless women hardly ever shown on TV any longer because of the backlash that takes place"

Again, most of this stuff is written by MEN.

Posted by: DZ | October 30, 2006 9:37 AM

"And have we flipped some of our "girl" negativity to our sons?"

Yes. Have any of you gone to a recent suburban middle-school or high-school awards ceremony? The gender mix of the students honored for academic achievement is noticably skewed towards girls. Don't know why - but it is remarkable.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 9:40 AM

Clueless women hardly ever shown on TV any longer because of the backlash that takes place"

Again, most of this stuff is written by MEN.

Do you have any stats to back this up. I would really like to know how many men write this stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 9:41 AM

Remember Ralph Kramden & Ed Norton from the Honeymooners?

Posted by: June | October 30, 2006 9:48 AM

I have seen first hand the "chubby" girl thing. People really make a bigger deal out of overweight little girls than boys.
This goes along with the whole "perfection" issue that girls faced when I was growing up....hoped it had gotten better.
I suppose the TV/movie thing is always unequal. I can't help wondering, does every famous woman have to be played by Nicole Kidman, and how come Adam Sandler is supposed to be so hilarious, and always gets the chicks? How about an average looking woman getting a hot guy for a change?

Posted by: Barb | October 30, 2006 9:53 AM

"Do you have any stats to back this up. I would really like to know how many men write this stuff."

Check it out at imdb.com.
There are women creators/writers, but the majority are men.

Dopey husband and father type stars such as Ray Romano and Tim Allen had a lot of control over the characters they played.

Posted by: DZ | October 30, 2006 9:54 AM

The first time I ever remember feeling that my gender affected my role in the workplace was just this past fall. In a supposedly enlightened, academic environment it seemed that because I wasn't "one of the boys" I was not getting the same access to information that would enable me to perform my job. Never in the prior 14 years of work experience did I ever have a similar experience; it was quite a shock, for though I understood conceptually that those attitudes might still be out there, I had never experienced it before.

Posted by: Surprised | October 30, 2006 10:00 AM

power, power, you have it all, you can take your clothes off anytime, anywhere, thats perceived as sexy, you can have sex with underage boys and walk away with a tap on the wrist, you get the children and most of a mans money at the time of divorce, you can have any job you want, if you don't like what your husband or any other man says to you, get a restraining order against him, the courts hand them out to women , no questions asked, or sue him and get all of his money. girls, you've got it all.

Posted by: mcewen | October 30, 2006 10:02 AM

Um...Guerilla Girls have pointed this out the best of anyone...see www.GuerillaGirls.org.

Can you name five living women directors of movies? Check the "Unchain the Women Directors" billboard campaign. Women directed only 7% of the top 200 films of 2005. The statistics for cinematography are even more depressing.

Posted by: Rita | October 30, 2006 10:03 AM

As a child of the 80s, I also grew up believing that I could - should - be a doctor, a lawyer, a chef, an astronaut - whatever I wanted. Going to college and being "good" at math weren't options. Now that I am six months away from being a lawyer, I realize that being held down is not a problem for women of my generation - the problem is the fact that we are supposed to be doctors and lawyers - and mothers, and wives, and entertainers, and chefs, and Martha Stewart. The funny thing is that we aren't even doing all of these things in order to keep a perfect house for a husband, we are doing it to show the world that we can. And we are doing it because we don't know who else will.

I truly appreciate the fact that the men of my generation are adapting to the changing role of women by taking a greater pride in keeping house and by being much more involved fathers... But where does it end? How do I tell my daughters (should I have any) that, yes, they can be anything they dream of, but they should also think about how that affects their lifestyle choices?

Posted by: scr | October 30, 2006 10:03 AM

Notice how so many of our impressions are shaped by "the box"? Why not just turn it off or, better yet--leave it curbside? Spare yourself and your children the horrors of programming that defines people only by their ability to earn and consume. They--and you--are so much more than that.

Why not leave the magazines alone that present a one-sided image of women in page after page of sexist advertising. Skip the manicures and fashions that are intended to say "I don't work," because you do work and you're proud of it. Stop succumbing to fashion statements that are generated by a hopelessly sexist industry filled with men and women who hate women. (For evidence, consider how models are encouraged to become anorexic to the point of death, how ridiculous most women look in trendy fashions--and how men's wardrobes hardly ever change except to become more comfortable.)

Best yet: try treating all of the other women in your life--you daughters, mothers, sisters, coworkers--as worthwhile human beings, as important members of your community and world.

Posted by: What is it worth to you? | October 30, 2006 10:06 AM

Armchair Mom,

I don't tink you can rely on the gender of teachers to predict their attitude toward girls and math. My 5 year old dd is a math kid-- she likes to play with numbers in her head, and is figuring out arithmatic pretty much on her own. Anyhow, she went to a well-regarded Montessori school last year, and although kids are supposed to be introduced to any task they show interest in, the female teachers could only seem to find time to show her the household and creative tasks. They're not allowed to do any task they haven't been introduced to. She eventually did manage to learn some of the math tasks by getting the boys in her class to show her.

For the most part, I assume that people who go into teaching are people who liked school, and are likely to pretty much maintain the status quo. I do have tremendous respect for those who take on this very difficult job and do it well.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 30, 2006 10:06 AM

part of it is media image, another key part is realities of life women have faced. at one point males were trained to survive. yet media images have made too many males think they are naturally destined for certain roles. meanwhile, females have been hit with some gross realities, along with certain movements, and are seeking to control their destinies more so now. As a father of girls, I support it all the way. my girls are being raised to be the best they can be without regard to race or sex.

Posted by: RobGreg | October 30, 2006 10:06 AM

Best yet: try treating all of the other women in your life--you daughters, mothers, sisters, coworkers--as worthwhile human beings, as important members of your community and world.


How about treating everyone like this, men included?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:10 AM

I grew up confused. I was a girl but wanted a "boy's" job.

My girlhood was in the 50's when Moms mostly stayed home. My Mom, and all the other moms I can think of really, clearly were not all that happy about it - they'd been single, independent, and out working for the WWII period.

I became a young women just as the women's movement realy engaged. I tried to adjust my thinking but struggled. I wanted marriage and kids. I was the first in my household to go to high school, and then to college. I had no role models. I started reading Ms MAgazine with the first issue and devoured it each month.

But, by then I was already married (at age 20!), had left college after my junior year to move cross-country with my grad-student husband, and taken a job to make some money. At least I had the sense not to start a family yet, and I quit my job to spend a year finishing up college.

Then there was another cross-country(actually to Canada) move, another job (this time in my field), a baby, another big move back to the States, a house, another baby, then another big move. There was really no time to carve out a career or go to grad school. Daycare back then was decidely inferior.

I went back to college yet again when the boys started school, despite the fact that one child had just been found to have a chronic disorder. I was bored at home and wanted to update my old knowledge and prepare for grad school. Just when I was ready to change over to grad courses, we moved yet again. After re-settling our kids into new schools , etc for a year, I looked at grad schools.

But the sanme child became ill with a second chronic condition - exhausting but not life-threatening thankfully. I had to pick up that child at school often. I thought about night school but hate night classes.

We had stretched to buty a house in our new area and money was getting tight. Plus college costs were looming in the near distance. So, I took an "easy" (for me, anyway) job . It was full-time and did not pay well. I stayed 12 years anyway, climbing the ladder, such as it was. It helped us save for college and got me out of the house and was actually fun for much of the time. I considered night classes again, but then spent some time grieving my lost dreams and finally gave them up.

And then I was over 50, and realized it I wanted to stay home, travel, take fun art and dance classes, etc. I was by then exhausted from the marathon of moving/child-raising/ working.

Now, after a few years of that, I am ready to think about other things. I just don't know what.

I remain somewhat confused. I hope the younger women & men have a clearer picture because my generation sure didn't. You know how thay always say that no one on their death-bed ever says: "I wish I'd spent more time at the office"? Well, That may not be true in my case. haha

Posted by: granny | October 30, 2006 10:11 AM

I just wish we could get away from quoting the shop-worn statistic about how women only make some percent of what men do while not controlling for age, experience, or education levels. Once those controls are in place, the level is virtually identical but, since that doesn't serve anyone's agenda, those facts are ignored.

I'm watching how science and math are presented to both of my daughters. I'm not seeing a problem with male/female at all, but more of the classic problem of making the gifted kids repeat the same material over and over (talk about letting boredom kill the love of learning) until the slower kids finally get it. Fortunately, their private school is more willing to group kids by ability so both of them are progressing to the fullest of their abilities.

Posted by: Rufus | October 30, 2006 10:11 AM

I too was told I could do anything. No one at my school - male female younger older - ever suggested that the girls (who were the majority) in AP Calculus or in Physics should take Home Ec instead. Thank God! My mother taught girls and boys to cook and clean and canoe and camp and my dad taught us to do yard work and fish. No difference. My brother is a totally well-adjusted man married to a lovely woman who appreciates this upbringing!

Posted by: Another 70-80s Kid | October 30, 2006 10:14 AM

*Extra long rant alert*

The idea that it is white men who are really at the receiving end of discrimination today is one of the chief myths of the backlash against feminism and the civil rights movement. Look at who is *actually* in power-- in Washington, DC, in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley and everywhere in between. The number of female Senators, cabinet officials, Supreme Court justices, CEOs or for that matter t.v. show writers and producers is still miniscule. Despite the fact that more women than ever are graduating from law school, the number of female Supreme Court clerks is at an all time low. The day that only 7% of Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by men, or the day there are only 14 men in the Senate, I'd be more inclined to believe the male discrimination story-- until then, forgive me if I'm a little incredulous.

Yeah, so King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond make the men look like buffoons-- but even as buffoons, they still have attractive, thin, capable wives who put up with their idiotic behavior because they're just so darn cute-- where are all the shows were some goofy fat woman has a hot husband? Moreoever, what about all the other shows on television-- even when populated with strong women (who are always written as 'feisty' but ultiamtely overly-emotional)? These shows portray men in positions of power and the strong women usually spend 50% of the show swooning over them (Lost and Grey's Anatomy just to name two). Everyone seems to notice that men are occasionally portrayed as silly-- but you don't notice that the television status quo (largely written by white male writers) is dominated by largely traditional gender dynamics. It's like wallpaper-- we're so used to it, it doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary.

Moreover, there is more pressure on women than ever before to excel at all things-- a recent survey at Duke said girls there feel incredible pressure to be both "smart and hot" and described an atmosphere where cute guys can take their pick of girls for random 'hookups' and the girls willingly participate because god-forbid they should be seen as 'not sexy'. Has everyone forgotten the Forbes article published **last month** titled "Don't Marry A Career Woman" that argued, among other things, that your house will be dirtier if you do? Hello!? Forbes, in this day and age, is advising guys not to marry career women and you say it's tough to be a man!?!?

I graduated college less than ten years ago-- I went to a school where the ratio of men to women was 4 to 1 (an engineering school in the south) and believe me, the atmosphere was anything but progressive: guys didn't want girls on their project teams in class, but if you refused a date you were automatically branded a "b****" and accused of being frigid or snotty. This was not 1950 people-- it was the 1990's! In my rural southern high school, again in the 1990's, the most popular girls were always the ones who were nice, pretty and kept their opinions to themselves-- being outspoken or especially smart was not a way to be prom queen. In high school, I must have had a hundred guys say to me "You're too smart for your own good." What is that supposed to mean? And why did I never hear that phrase directed toward a guy?

It's funny that as soon as women started making any progress whatsoever in this country, people run around screaming that men are being discriminated against-- remember the famous "Year of the Woman" in politics, when we had *six* female senators-- that's six out of one hundred and it's the "Year of the Woman"? Hello? It wasn't long after that that one began to hear the 'woe is me' tale that the worst thing you can be in this country is a white male and now that there are, OMG, 14 female senators, well men are told they just better give up all hope that they can get a fair shake in this fem-dominated country. Yeah right-- women and minorities are still the ones disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination in pretty much every category that can be measured.

I get that men, in general, are threatened, by the idea that women should have 50% of the power and resources in this country-- since white men still have most of it, that means if women take 50% of Senate seats and Fortune 500 CEO jobs, 40% or more of the white men currently in contention for those positions wouldn't get them. Not everything is a zero sum game, but some things are-- and as soon as anything is taken away from a white guy, this 'poor white men' talk starts up. Fortunately, college admissions are not necessarily a zero sum game-- glass sizes are growing as population grows and more people (of all genders and races) have a college education available to them than ever before. For the first time women are a little over 50% of undergrads-- my guess is it won't go much beyond that and will equilibriate at roughly 50%-50%. This is a *good* thing-- we should be happy our society is educating its daughters as well as its sons after generations of not doing so. But somehow I sense that no one would be worried or upset if women were the ones who made up less than 50% of the undergrad population. It would just be par for the course.

Sign me,
A happily married to a strong man-domestic goddess-homebody-former engineer-master's degree holding-career woman who believes feminism is still relevant (and will be for a long time to come)!

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 10:17 AM

The dopey, schlubby men on TV are all in comedies and commercials intended to be funny. The idea is, it's funny because it portrays the world as it ISN'T.

On the "serious" shows, though, the men are handsome and professional and ethical. Or handsome and slick and dangerous. Or handsome and sensitive and hard-working. There are very few dumb klutzy men on the TV dramas, which are the shows intended to show the world as it really is. "Ripped from the headlines" and all that.

This is not to say that dramas portray all women as victims, patients and secretaries. There are plenty of positive roles for women in TV dramas. And there seem to be more roles played by real-looking women, instead of super-model stunners, which I like. I like to see the short, plump doctor on Grey's Anatomy-- one of the best surgeons there, and no shrinking violet.

Posted by: Men on TV | October 30, 2006 10:21 AM

I grew up confused. I was a girl but wanted a "boy's" job.

My girlhood was in the 50's when Moms mostly stayed home. My Mom, and all the other moms I can think of really, clearly were not all that happy about it - they'd been single, independent, and out working for the WWII period.

I became a young women just as the women's movement really engaged. I tried to adjust my thinking but struggled. I wanted marriage and kids. I was the first in my household to go to high school, and then to college. I had no role models. I started reading Ms Magazine with the first issue and devoured it each month.

But, by then I was already married (at age 20!), had left college after my junior year to move cross-country with my grad-student husband, and taken a job to make some money. At least I had the sense not to start a family yet, and I quit my job to spend a year finishing up college.

Then there was another cross-country(actually to Canada) move, another job (this time in my field), a baby, another big move back to the States, a house, another baby, then another big move. There was really no time to carve out a career or go to grad school. Daycare back then was decidely inferior.

I went back to college yet again when the boys started school, despite the fact that one child had just been found to have a chronic disorder. I was bored at home and wanted to update my old knowledge and prepare for grad school. Just when I was ready to change over to grad courses, we moved yet again. After re-settling our kids into new schools , etc for a year, I looked at grad schools.

But the same child became ill with a second chronic condition - exhausting but not life-threatening thankfully. I had to pick up that child at school often. I thought about night school but hate night classes.

We had stretched to buy a house in our new area and money was getting tight. Plus college costs were looming in the near distance. So, I took an "easy" (for me, anyway) job . It was full-time and did not pay well. I stayed 12 years anyway, climbing the ladder, such as it was. It helped us save for college and got me out of the house and was actually fun for much of the time. I had a title so could consider this job my "career". I also considered night classes again, but then spent some time grieving my lost dreams and finally gave them up.

And then I was over 50, and realized it I wanted to stay home, travel, take fun art and dance classes, etc. I was by then exhausted from the marathon of moving/child-raising/ working.

Now, after a few years of that, I am ready to think about other things. I just don't know what.

I remain somewhat confused. I hope the younger women & men have a clearer picture because my generation sure didn't. You know how thay always say that no one on their death-bed ever says: "I wish I'd spent more time at the office"? Well, That may not be true in my case. haha

Posted by: granny | October 30, 2006 10:21 AM

to barb; I graduated from HS in 1985 and I agree with the following:

"I felt was a girl had to be everything. Not just pretty or polite, but pretty, polite, going to a high-powered university with an impressive major and a fantastic summer internship/career waiting(usually doctor/lawyer/business)."

However, I think the "pretty" part is self imposed/peer pressure most of the time. My parents never wanted me to do get all involved in hair/makeup/clothes crap but I did because of everyone else. I finally learned it was nonsense when my mother told me she wasn't buying me the (designer)clothes and make-up, so I got a job and had to pay for all the crap myself. After awhile I decided it wasn't worth it either. The peer pressure element is so strong in young girls - it gets very nasty. If you don't have the strong parents to back you up it can make you a very shallow person.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 10:22 AM

Sorry-- "the number of female Supreme Court clerks is at an all time low." isn't exactly correct since for most of the Supreme Court's history, the number was zero-- the number of female clerks did decline this year, however, and it was pointed out that some justices consistently hire no or few women.

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 10:24 AM

(orry about the above double post - it was taking so long to upload, I decided to fix a few typos before continuing - but it obviously had been sent already. Read the SECOND one. haha)

Posted by: granny | October 30, 2006 10:25 AM

I am a 24 year old female engineer and feel the following:
I feel the need to be smarter than peers to be taken seriously. I have to be very careful with my dress because it is easy to be considered a sex object in the oil industry. And maybe this is just how I feel, but I feel the need to downplay success to male peers lest they feel like less of men. This may be my fault, but something put this feeling in me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:28 AM

JKR - truly, can I be your friend?

Excellent long rant. I agree 1000%.

Posted by: The original just a thought | October 30, 2006 10:29 AM

"While none of these are to be considered role models for developing male minds, I wonder if there is some form of impact on them anyway."

Sure it has an impact... TV helps shape things that way. Ever watch NFL commercials? The moronic mentality of the NFL makes people believe they have to turn into retarded, fat drunks with a single minded obsession that supercedes family, friends, and religion come game time. Carries into college football, into the student body... people love living down to the expectations TV sets for them.

DZ... even if the commercials were being created by men, that doesn't really matter. The comment was that there was a backlash if "stupid women" were shown, it wasn't a question as to whether theres a double standard based on the gender of the creator.

Posted by: Five | October 30, 2006 10:29 AM

I was born in the 60s, when sexism was pretty overt. My 1971 kindergarten class read "Boys Are, Girls Are" ("Boys are doctors, Girls are nurses." My favorite: "Boys fix things, Girls need things fixed"). By far the best defense I had against those messages was my mother, who had grown up being told she could be a teacher or a nurse or a secretary, and who was damned if she was going to see her only child limited like that. She got that book taken off the syllabus, and got me "Free to Be, You and Me" at home.

I think it's harder to teach your kids to see and respond to sexist messages nowadays, though. When I was a kid, sexism was overt (along the "little woman" lines) -- yes, it was offensive, but with everything out in the open, it was pretty easy to fight. Now things are a lot more sophisticated; you rarely hear someone say "a woman's place is in the home" anymore; they will say something like "I believe a child needs a parent at home," when what they really mean is "and that parent must be mom." NOT saying that that's what all SAHM's and their advocates believe -- point is that there are people out there with very sexist viewpoints who have learned to cloak their arguments in socially-acceptable ways, so if you try to argue with them, it sounds like you hate SAHMs (and so you are unreasonable, not them). Or another example: I recall some studies from a few years ago that found that teachers call on boys more than girls -- but when asked about it, the teachers insisted they called on both genders equally. So they certainly didn't intend to treat the boys and girls differently, but that was still the result. So nowadays, it's not just a question of teaching your kid to stand up to the overt messages -- now you have to teach them how to see more subtle things and critically deconstruct them.

But one thing hasn't changed: I believe that the best defense is still being a strong role model yourself. My daughter watches and remembers EVERY single thing I do and word I say -- if I preach equality but then expect her to do the dishes and her brother to cut the lawn, which do you think she'll pay attention to? Through my mother's strength, I saw first-hand that a woman could succeed in whatever she wanted to do, no matter what anyone else says; my fondest hope is that both my daughter and my son learn that as well (just as their dad is trying to model all of the good things a man can do and be).

Posted by: Laura | October 30, 2006 10:31 AM

One more thing - really, just one - When I was in 8th grade (1962), I was not allowed to enter the Chicago, city-wide math contest because I was a girl. My sympathetic teacher (a nun) allowed and encouraged me to do all the prep work for it, along with the boys, anyway. Then, in high school, I could not enter the city science fair - same reason!

Posted by: granny | October 30, 2006 10:32 AM

To mcewen:

I beg to disagree. The sexpot thing works for maybe 10-15 years, but even then, if a woman is no more the sum of T&A, there's always younger, prettier T&A around the corner.

As for divorce: most women have their standard of living lowered following a divorce. I kept my house because it was MY house. I made every mortgage payment and it was in my name. As for child support, I have yet to see a dime and never will because my ex-husband left the country.

And then the most sobering statistic ties into your comment about restraining orders: the most dangerous place for an AMERICAN woman is her own home. Take a look at the domestic violence stats some time. Between 30 and 40 percent of women who are murdered were killed by an intimate partner (the rate varies year-to-year, but stays consistently in this range). Again, that's in the good old USA, not Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Tell me again, who has the power?

Posted by: single western mom | October 30, 2006 10:32 AM

Are we not individuals? Every child is different.

I had a low GPA in HS but test very well. In fact I tell this story as a badge of honor. I was bored in grade school. And I never did homework, I think this was the result of two factors, one my parents didn't enforce homework (there were other issues), and two, probably the biggest factor, school was boring. Why should I do homework when I can pull a B+ or A- on the test without doing the homework. Why should I do homework when I get the concept the first or second time it is explained? My sixth grade teacher gave me a D+ in Math because I didn't do my homework. Did I deserve it? Yes, according to her grading system. That is not the problem, the real problem was when she accused me of cheating when I got one of the top three scores for the accelerated Math placement test to enter Jr. High. How can you cheat on a standardized test when you get one of the top three scores out of the 6-8 grade schools going to my Jr. High? I don't know either.

My HS GPA hovered right around a 3.2, my college GPA about the same, again homework bored me. My Master's GPA is at a 3.7 right now and I think it will remain there or a bit higher until completion as I've matured concerning the task of homework.

My three daughters will not have the same problems I did. My first is a math whiz, always counting money, learning math above her grade level, but she is a bit behind the reading curve. I don't stress about it, she'll come along fine with fun dramatic reading with daddy. My second daughter I think will be more of a challenge. She is like me, though just starting Kindergarten, she picked up a book the other day and is reading at about a beginning 1st grade level and she constantly seeks out extra homework because she finishes her work so quickly. (My oldest is in second grade)

I am also the second child and am wondering if having an older sibling allowed me better preparation and support for learning. I remember playing school with her all the time when younger.

My wife is a SAHM, and is the one who enforces homework, which is great for the grade school level. But the lovely wife has dyslexia and got very frustrated in college and as a kinestetic learner did much better in cosmetology school. She is very good artsy, fashion oriented, but not a Math or English whiz.

I'll be the go to guy when it comes to Algebra, Trig, Geometry, Calculus, Statistics, etc. So hopefully by the time my kids hit Jr. High I'm out of this rat race of D.C. and able to spend the time necessary to ensure my daughters' success.

So low GPAs aren't always a great indication of college success. I graduated and I'm a bored underachiever, that tests really really well. I also have great recall of previous material in spite of not doing as much homework.

Hopefully this isn't seen as a brag but a more personal look at GPAs, another way of looking at them, and the potential for success.

My girls are welcome to help replace the battery in my car, change the oil, change a tire, help cook dinner, help with whatever task, I don't preclude them from helping mow the lawn, though they don't do it themselves yet.

My girls can be whatever they want, as long as they still love their daddy.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | October 30, 2006 10:37 AM

"For the first time women are a little over 50% of undergrads-- my guess is it won't go much beyond that and will equilibriate at roughly 50%-50%."

Why do you think it will swing back and reach equilibrium at 50/50? Check out the NY Times story at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/business/yourmoney/29women.html?em&ex=1162357200&en=a910b6f60ffb3ed2&ei=5087%0A

A couple of interesting quotes:

"At American colleges and universities, women represent 57 percent of undergraduate classes and 58 percent of graduate classes, according to the American Council on Education. (They also hold a slight majority in the overall population.)"

"We are perhaps on the first step to a matriarchal society; women will earn more money than men if current trends continue by 2028," said Michael J. Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group. "The trend has been escalating in the last 10 years as there has been a gradual, slow erosion of the power balance in the family, a psychic rebalancing."

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:38 AM

Two attitudes I struggle to understand:

-- There can't be a "boy crisis" because it's still very hard for girls. Ignore boys' problems and focus on girls.

-- Feminism is a viscious mistake - don't you know there's a boy crisis out there? Ignore girls' problems and focus on boys.

I've got a daughter. I've got a son. I'm a man. I'm married to a woman. I see all sides of this, and yes, girls are trapped in an impossible-to-accomodate and ever more restrictive "act like a woman box" and boys are trapped in an impossible-to-accomodate and ever more restrictive "act like a man box" that hurts both socially, in school, in the workplace, and keeps a lot of us from finding self-fulfillment. Advocating for the needs of one doesn't hurt the other. I'm a feminist and a masculinist because I want a fair playing field, lots of support and freedom for both my daughter and my son, my wife and myself. I don't see how pointing out the restrictive media presentations of men or of women, the struggles in school of boys or of girls, the work-life balance problems of either gender, really shortchanges the other.

Posted by: sct | October 30, 2006 10:40 AM

My mother was a bright and fiercely independent woman who convinced my two sisters and I that we could do anything. Although we grew up in the 1970's when a fair number of girls still got married straight out of high school, it was simply a given that we would attend college and make our way in the male-dominated working world. My oldest sister is a journalist, the middle is a metallurgical engineer and I am a lawyer who spent six years in the military.

In my twenty years of law practice I've run across discrimination only once. While working as a new associate at a personal injury law firm the partner who supervised me sat in on a deposition. At the end he told me that while I'd done a fine technical job my attitude was too nice -- I needed to be a bigger "witch" (well -- substitute a B for the W.) Thankfully a better job opportunity presented itself soon after and I left that firm.

No man in my life, however, has ever made me feel anywhere near as worthless and insignificant as those women who feel that form (appearance, fashion) is more important than substance (intelligence, kindness, compassion.) The biggest source of negativity in my life is my M-I-L, who has spent the last 20 years telling me I am too fat, don't dress fashionably enough, don't dress my kids fashionably enough, that my hair and makeup are a disaster and my abilities as a cook and housekeeper don't even begin to measure up to her standards. She is not alone in this world. I've encountered way too many women along the way who elevate things (clothing, houses, cars) above people and judge everyone on how nice their things are rather than on what kind of person they are. Truthfully at most gatherings I prefer to hang out with the men -- they are more interesting and less judgmental.

Posted by: MP | October 30, 2006 10:44 AM

JKR, I also went to an engineering school in the south-- probably the same one, since there aren't many! I found the same experience as you were describing. Personally, I did find it affected my academic self-confidence. For many reasons, I transferred to another Southern school with a 60-40 female-male ratio. The women were actually much stronger academically than the men (the admissions director once told me it would be 75-80% female if they didn't consider gender). The atmosphere was so much more cooperative and friendly, and I never felt the gender discrimination I did in the other school. It made a world of difference.

While looking at colleges I had discounted all-female universities. But now I think they have some merit.

Posted by: Neighbor | October 30, 2006 10:48 AM

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1161939921685

About those 50% or more gender rates in college - not sure it will matter in the long run to boost female income, etc. The above-referenced article from the American Lawyer notes that even though women have constituted more than 50% of all law school graduating classes for more than 15 years, they still only constitute 16% of equity partners. Even at the "youngest" levels of partnership, women only constitute 24% of all partners. This is pretty good data since most (not all) partnership decisions are made between 7-10 years after one graduates from law school. So if women have been more than 50% of graduates for more than 15 years, we should at least see a much higher percentage than a quarter in recent years.

Posted by: The original just a thought | October 30, 2006 10:49 AM

To MP:

Wow, I thought my MIL was bad. She spent over 20 years BORING me to death.

Posted by: DZ | October 30, 2006 10:50 AM

First, right on JKR!
Secondly, I have thought about this a lot in the last couple years. I was also raised in a completely non-sexist home - I loved school and did well blah blah blah. But now I am the parent of a son - no daughters for me - and I find myself questioning why he is doing so poorly in school and wondering if indeed there HAS been a backlash against boys and accomodating the different ways they *might* learn. I worry that he ISN'T exposed to enough males in the elementary school environment and have agonized over whether he would be doing better with a male teacher - not necessarily because males are more understanding and accomodating of boys, but because maybe boys are more inspired by male teachers ... and maybe especially boys of single mothers, and there are a lot of us. I have no research here, just my ruminations.

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 30, 2006 10:50 AM

"While looking at colleges I had discounted all-female universities. But now I think they have some merit."

I realized after I posted this that some folks may think that I'm implying all-female colleges don't have merit. I know there are many excellent female universities, and now I see the appeal to them over other comparable universities.

Posted by: Neighbor | October 30, 2006 10:52 AM

SCT: Amen.

Posted by: Laura | October 30, 2006 10:52 AM

"I recall some studies from a few years ago that found that teachers call on boys more than girls -- but when asked about it, the teachers insisted they called on both genders equally."

Laura hit the nail on the head-- no one likes to think that they are sexist (or racist) because one of the things the feminist/civil rights movements have been successful at is demonizing the blatantly offensive forms of that behavior. So people couch it in other terms and convince themselves they're not prejudiced. Just this morning on NPR, David Bositis, a Senior Political Analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, was talking about the "poll lie"... pre-election and exit polls always show a black candidate further ahead than he is because people like to publicly claim that they voted for a black candidate because they don't want to be seen as racist. He mentioned a the Doug Wilder election in Virginia where exit polls showed his win margin to be 10% and the actual margin was .5% (yes, that's half a percent). That's the downside of political correctness-- people are less willing to put the truth about how they feel out there on the table.

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 10:53 AM

Hey, unsigned 10:38 poster:

While women make up the (slight) majority of undergrad and graduate students, one does have to ask WHY they aren't the majority of college professors, administrators, government leaders, etc. Sure, they're earning the degrees, but why aren't they able to crack the higher echelons of power?

Also, I'd like to see data on what fields the majority of women college and graduate students are in. My guess is that they are the fields that are traditionally female or welcoming of women, like education, psychology, English or social work. WHile these are all great fields to be in, they really aren't the fastest routes to being in power.

Posted by: JP Deaton | October 30, 2006 10:54 AM

As recently as 2002, half of the six major Hollywood studio were headed by women: Sherry Lansing (Paramount), Amy Pascal (Columbia Pictures), and Stacey Snider (Universal). Half of film school graduates are women, but if someone isn't hiring them as directors, maybe it's time to ask these three what they've done to remedy the situation.

The television networks are similarly constituted: as recently as 2002, Nancy Tellem (President of CBS Entertainment), Gail Berman (President, FOX Entertainment), and Dawn Ostroff (President, UPN Entertainment; now CW) shaped the television landscape. Women have served in such capacities at ABC and NBC as well.

My brother--a black man, the last time I checked--is a proud graduate of one the finest film schools in the nation with a concentration in animation. While he was an undergrad at Big Ivy League U., he took a film course with a Very Well-Known Black Film Director. His instructor cautioned him to steer clear of making "black-themed" film lest he be typecast (like Very Well-Known Black Film Director has been).

My brother took this advice to heart. For his second animated feature, his film is as white as the driven snow: not a black person in sight. The protagonist is an early-adolescent, precocuous girl who, living as a mere mortal in a world of witches and warlocks with magical powers, uses her scientific and mathematical abilities to level the playing field. The witches have flying brooms; the protagonist invents a flying vacuum cleaner.

Feminist bliss. Commercially viable. He should be making a mint from this thing.

The reality: he's been shopping the film for three years. No takers.

Oh, he's had plenty of interviews. But, each and every time, the interviewers want to speak more with the white female assistant my brother brings with him. They refuse to believe a black man could possibly devise a female-empowering character and plotline. They want to believe his assistant in the braintrust behind the film. Some have even said so.

He's lost count of the number of time these liberal Hollywood executives have told him they won't take the project if he's on it. They prefer his white female assistant--the person he pays.

The women executives, my brother tells me, are worse than the men.

Not once has he met with a black executive. He laughed when I asked about it.

Not that my chosen profession is any better: there isn't a single black male Supreme Court clerk this year. Not one. Guess the New York Times missed that one.

Posted by: DCTemp | October 30, 2006 10:56 AM

To the anonymous posters who pointed out the obvious - that I could just refuse to get someone's coffee or lunch. Thanks for fixating on the coffee rather than larger gender stereo-type. Very helpful - why didn't I think of that?! For the record and in my personal experience, what one will tolerate at the age of 32 is far different from what one might tolerate at 22.

Posted by: M | October 30, 2006 11:01 AM

two stories...

1) In 1990 I was beginning a PhD program at an Ivy League school. When I was accepted, I was given a fellowship. About 20% of the class had these fellowships and they were based on merit. At dinner with the director of the graduate program the night before classes started, classmates who knew I had gotten married over the weekend asked me about it. Overhearing this, the director of the graduate program said, "If I knew you were getting married, I wouldn't have given you that fellowship."

Update: I did get a PhD, various others with and without fellowships did not. Others have since taken over as director of graduate program.

2) In 2002, one child had dental work and I had to bring her sister along. Sister was not permitted in the small treatment room but waited in the main work area where other kids were getting cleanings & check-ups. There's a space for kids to wait there, with bean bags chairs & books. When the procedure was done, one of the staff brought her over and praised her. "She just sat quietly. She watched us working; she was really interested in what we were doing." Dentist responds, "Maybe she'll be a dental hygienist!"

Update: We switched dentists but stayed within the practice.

Posted by: Green Mtns | October 30, 2006 11:02 AM

Mr Estrogen central:

I was the same way in school - I never did any work and skated by. My grades were constantly lowered due to missed projects, homework, etc. My parents constantly hassled me, told me I was too smart to be goofing off. I did get into a good college only because of good SAT scores and a recommendation from my government teacher that encouraged debate and participation and captured my attention (got an A in her class). However, my male HS guidance counselor told me not to bother with college - he wanted me to go to a good "secretarial school." My mother told me he was an idiot and that I was going to college.

Regardless, I skated through college as well but once I hit the real world and was finally out of the classroom I thrived. I have always been successful in my various jobs. I am the only girl out of 3 kids and my parents just wanted all of us to be independent and successful.

I do remember my mom telling me in college when I brought home my boyfriend - who happened to be smart, funny, good looking and from a very wealthy family - that it didn't hurt to marry well. It didn't work out between us - he wanted me to move to NJ after we got married (after I graduated)and be a stay home mom. I completely balked at that. Very strange - I would love to be a stay home mom full time now but him telling me that was "how it was going to be" just did not sit well with me.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 11:05 AM

The decision whether or not to have kids, and if you do, how to raise them seems like the women's issue of my generation. Which is why I find this blog compelling even though I'm not yet a parent. The women-in-the-workplace-issue (women gaining access to traditionally male professions, coping with sexism, the glass ceiling, being Superwoman) was the primary issue of my mom's generation - although women continue to face many of these challenges today.

I feel like my generation's obssessional attention to parenting exists partly as a backlash (or reaction to) our mother's struggle to enter and achieve in the workplace. The workplace issues still exist. But now they're compounded with a bunch of conflicting thoughts and feelings about what it means to be a woman.

Posted by: Friend | October 30, 2006 11:08 AM

JKR -- you said it. People treat gender equality like it's some zero-sum game. Like if women are doing better, men must be doing worse. I don't think feminists want to screw men over...just for them to move over a bit to make room for talented females.

And to DC Temp...the Guerilla Girls are definitely also fighting for your bro by also acknowleging the absence of artists of color in big-money Hollywood. The figures for cinematographers and directors of color are as depressing as the stats for women. Check out their anatomically correct oscar campaign here: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/posters/oscarfinal.shtml

Posted by: Rita | October 30, 2006 11:09 AM

"if you don't like what your husband or any other man says to you, get a restraining order against him, the courts hand them out to women."

Can I get a court order forcing my husband to do his share of the housework? It is a real problem in our relationship. He takes out the trash, but I do just about everything else. I don't want to be a nag-- I'd like it if he would just pitch in without my having to ask. I can't help but think that if he really loved me he would do this stuff without the nagging. HAs anyone divorced over housework.. Seems so minor, but it is a real problem for me to live in a messy, disorganized home.

Posted by: re housework | October 30, 2006 11:14 AM

JKR, I agree. Very nicely stated.

I think that the most important thing we can do to counteract this negative imagery of women is to point it out to our children. The best way to solve the problem is to recognize it.

When I notice something sexist, I point it out to whomever will listen (usually my husband or mom). If you do that with your children, they will see the problem and learn to look for it in the future. Then they will be less likely to fall victim to the message. For me, it's like knowing the enemy.


Posted by: Meesh | October 30, 2006 11:15 AM

A few months ago, I read an essay in one of the news magazines by a doctor who is a black woman. She wrote that even other blacks who come in as patients assume she's a nurse. A powerful illustration about the insidiousness of stereotypes. We often don't know that they influence our thinking, especially when we make a conscious effort to avoid generalizing.

Also, when I was in high school 25 years ago, it was considered "faggy" for boys to do well. I think it had something to do with anti-intellectualism, the idea that men were better suited to "good, honest hard work." Our culture still stereotypes intellectuals as effete snobs.

Posted by: Tonio | October 30, 2006 11:16 AM

"Truthfully at most gatherings I prefer to hang out with the men -- they are more interesting and less judgmental."

I am the same way. My husband and I laugh all the time that I end up with the men at parties - I like to drink beer, smoke an occasional cigar and talk politics.

My most dreaded events: bridal and baby showers.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 11:16 AM

Small correction - the first sentence should read "it was considered 'faggy' for boys to do well in school or to be interested in books."

Posted by: Tonio | October 30, 2006 11:17 AM

My dad was a high school administrator in Arizona and as late as the late 80's/early 90's he had attending meetings where the state said that girls should be discouraged from taking anything beyond Algebra II from a math standpoint. He didn't buy that for various reasons and would check and see how many actually were in AP Calc as a measure of how girls did in Math at the school (go Dad!). Regardless, the fact that this attitude was so entrenched in public education, at least in AZ, is pretty scarry.

Posted by: Fun Fact | October 30, 2006 11:19 AM

Agreed, sct; I just get very irked by those who insist that a legacy of hundreds (millenia?) of sexism has simply evaporated in the last 30 years and no one is or has ever been a sexist and really there is no problem at all, everything is just peachy. It drives me to, well, rant. The thing is, truly lasting social change takes a long, long time-- I kind view history as an upward moving spiral...we're progressing, but we also go in a lot of circles and pass the same points again and again from a slightly different angle.

Agreed that what we truly want is a society that values its boys and girls, men and women as equal, responsible and capable members of society. I am pregnant with a boy and wonder what his experience will be (TakomaMom-- wonder if I'll be in your shoes in 5-6 years?). As society changes, however slowly, boys and men too have changing roles to cope with and any kind of change brings about its own particular set of challenges. I would never say men and boys can't or don't have problems. However, just as crime has been declining for 30 years yet people feel less safe than ever (and news stories highlight why we should all be very, very afraid), I do think that the media highlights "the boy crisis" in more exaggerated terms than it really exists and without the context of, well, times and gender roles are slowly changing and things are in flux for everyone-- and this does lead people to think "feminism has gone too far" and that we all need to slam the brakes (when things are really progressing pretty slowly).

Thanks "the original just a thought", esp. for the stat that shows equal pay is not the automatic result of equal graduation rates.

Hey, Neighbor, glad you found a more friendly environment! I eventually found one in grad school, and wow, did it open my eyes!

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 11:20 AM

Unfortunately, the pendulum hasn't really "swung". Even though girls seem to have the upper hand in elementary and high school, women are still discriminated against based on sterotypes. Look at what people say about women--those that work and value their careers are disparaged as "bad mothers". I personally experienced this fecently when I was told that I wasn't included in an important working group because "I wasn't experienced enough" despite being way more qualified than the males that were included. Euphanisms are used to deny women access to leadership roles--not enough experience, not enough leadership skills, etc. Mostly bullsh*t. I've been told time and again by more senior women and other observers that I've hit the glass ceiling. How come women have to be many times better than me to ascend in their fields? Look at how many successful female entrepeneurs there are but you can't count on one hand the number of women CEOs? When you're young and smart and successful, you are praised. If you are too successful, the abuse and discrimination becomes more rampant. Men like to protect their clubs.

I will say I don't care for how men and women are portrayed in the media. Women are still portrayed as being homebodies cleaning windows and baking with the children. And men as fat dunces drinking beer and oogling women. Pathetic cartoons, eh?

But I believe that girls and women are still getting the short end of the stick and I would welcome another wave of feminist revolution. Screw the naysayers who say stupid things like feminists are men haters (not true!) or that feminism is the cause of all the ills in our society. We need to continue to nurture our girls, make caring for home and families both a boy and girl issue, and promote women who are equally qualified (as opposed to 3 x more qualified and still get passed over).

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 11:29 AM

Anonymous at 9:37 a.m., the "I don't drink coffee" reply was right on the tip of my tongue!

When I was a TA in journalism grad school, my female professor had me fetch coffee. I didn't give the above reply, but I sent out silent but "loud" resentment vibes, and I started refusing to wash out her coffee cup. She stopped asking me. I also had this problem during a newspaper internship with a male editor. He, unlike the professor, was a nice person who actually wanted to hire me, just had some outmoded views. I should have taken that job, too. Instead, I chose the prestigious wire service, with sexist, racist, boring folks running the joint. I was an affirmative action hire, I wasn't good enough, blah, blah, blah. I eventually found a career that appealed more to me, quit, went back to school and made my switch.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 30, 2006 11:35 AM

Hey JKR,
I enjoyed your post too. I agree 1000% as well. Very well said.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 11:39 AM

great stories, love reading them. our childhoods affect us forever. makes me wonder (even more) how my kids are being shaped on a daily basis. what will our children write about in 20 years?

Posted by: Leslie | October 30, 2006 11:42 AM

There is a great test called Implicit Association Test by scientists at Harvard. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/ Basically, you look at photos and choose between different sets of words. Very interesting.

Posted by: vb_lady | October 30, 2006 11:44 AM

[I would welcome another wave of feminist revolution. Screw the naysayers]

Working Mother, I might support you on principal if it wasn't for your attitude.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 30, 2006 11:53 AM

JKR,
Congratulations on the pregnancy! He's a lucky boy to have a mom so conscious of the signals society will pass him.
And yes, you're absolutely right that thousands of years of priviledge haven't been erased by 30 years of increasing awareness of that priviledge. I think we're in a state now where a lot of the overt sexism is gone and we're left with a sort of institutional sexism and sexism we aren't aware of. This is insidious because it limits both boys and girls, pushing them into particular identities. I think that the nascent discussion of the "boy crisis" is just the very beginnings of a cultural awareness that we offer boys a limited role in the same way we do to girls, and that yes, it's the priviledged "powerful" role, but that doesn't change that it's still a limit on who they should be and it's present from the moment of birth. I think a lot of the "boy crisis" talk is misguided, but I'm extremely happy to see that talk happening at last, because it is at least the first sign of any societal discussion of "what messages do we send to our young boys?" much like the early days of feminism when we first began asking that question about girls. I hope it's the beginning of the next stage of the movement toward fairness and elimination of strict gender roles in our culture, but if I'm right about that, then it's many years from really being recognized as that.

Posted by: sct | October 30, 2006 11:53 AM

neo-feminism is dangerous because it paints the woman as perpetually the victim. if you are inherently the victim, then you don't have to compromise and see the other side's perspective.

Posted by: FP | October 30, 2006 11:55 AM

Oh goody, another feminazi womyn discussion. Men bad yadayada, women oppressed yadayada, society prejudiced yadayada. Wake me up when the leftist pity party is over. YAWN!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 12:10 PM

"Working Mother, I might support you on principal if it wasn't for your attitude."

You are joking, right? There is nothing wrong with my attitude. People who attack feminists do so because they want to keep women in the 50s--barefoot and pregnant. I've experienced this over and over again by men who are threatened by women who are as ambitous as they are. They say negative nasty untrue things about feminism and feminists because they feel threatend by women who want to achieve parity. I think you need a little enlightenment.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 12:11 PM

Patrick - you have to read all the posts - some are more man friendly than others!

Posted by: CMAC | October 30, 2006 12:13 PM

I agree with everything that JKR says.

Posted by: JKR Rocks! | October 30, 2006 12:14 PM

"While women make up the (slight) majority of undergrad and graduate students, one does have to ask WHY they aren't the majority of college professors, administrators, government leaders, etc. Sure, they're earning the degrees, but why aren't they able to crack the higher echelons of power?

Also, I'd like to see data on what fields the majority of women college and graduate students are in. My guess is that they are the fields that are traditionally female or welcoming of women, like education, psychology, English or social work. WHile these are all great fields to be in, they really aren't the fastest routes to being in power."

I do believe that women and men should be able to be anything they choose. But not everyone wants to be in a position of power. And not everyone wants to go to school for years beyond undergraduate. And not everyone wants to relocate to the places with the opportunities (e.g. DC). And not everyone wants to work insance hours. Etc, etc...

There seems to be an underlying thread here that you are somehow betraying women and/or feminism if you do not select careers that are not traditionally women's careers.

Why is it automatically sexist if a girl does not like math or science? Why can't she just dislike it? I personally loved math, but hated science. I love to read for pleasure but dislike Shakespeare, the classics, and poetry. People are multi-faceted. We should try not to push our sons and daughters in certain directions in the name of feminism and equality just as hard as we try not to push them into traditional stereotypical roles.

I graduated high school in 1974, took every math course possible in my high school, and received nothing but encouragement.

Posted by: mj | October 30, 2006 12:16 PM

"And yes, you're absolutely right that thousands of years of priviledge haven't been erased by 30 years of increasing awareness of that priviledge."

I'm sorry I didn't know that men lived to be thousands of years old. Oh, I get it, white men now should suffer for what people did thousands or even hundrends of years ago.

Posted by: I don't get it | October 30, 2006 12:18 PM

I think pATRICK is Father of 4..........

Posted by: DZ | October 30, 2006 12:18 PM

At high school, my principal (a woman), advised me that women don't make good engineers because their brains are different to men's. What did I do? Went out, got my masters in chemical engineering and worked as a process engineer on an oil refinery. I always figured that she was just clueless. Gender, race are not of any interest to me. I believe in being true to myself, and am bringing up my daughter to do likewise.

Posted by: smellypugsley | October 30, 2006 12:20 PM

"Oh goody, another feminazi womyn discussion. Men bad yadayada, women oppressed yadayada, society prejudiced yadayada. Wake me up when the leftist pity party is over. YAWN!"

It's amazing to me that there are a lot of men who are dismissive of the problems that women face in the workplace. They don't see that women are still routinely discriminated against in all aspecs of society. I am aware of it in my world and try to navigate around it without confrontation, but despite the fact that it is now "subtle" as opposed to overt (though my experience disputes that), it still is unfair and hurtful.

I worked in an environment where men in leadership (few to no women in leadership) would say that a certain women employee wasn't "serious" because she got pregnant and another should not be given an opportunity because "she'd rather be home with her daughter" (not true). These comments amongst others were said within the last few years at my former place of employment. Also, the boss simulated masturbation in front of 3 female employees, exposed his thing to other staff members and had made all types of sexual comments with the intent to humiliate the women in the workplace. He saved his most egregous behavior for the "uppity" women who were successful. I chose to leave rather than fight it--I sometimes wish I had fought.

These things still happen and the subtle form is just as insidious and hateful. I've worked in a place where the "boys" go out to lunch, network with important people and leave out the women. Men are promoted who are less skilled, but they are "one of the boys". I've even heard one person say that someone got an opportunity because they were tennis buddies!!! Dispicable.

So "Patrick and Fo4" are you part of the problem or do you want to continue to tell us we have "an attitude problem" and call us "feminazis"? I think we know the answer.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 12:21 PM

OOPS - change "insance hours" to insane hours.

Posted by: mj | October 30, 2006 12:21 PM

"I don't think feminists want to screw men over...just for them to move over a bit to make room for talented females."

That may well be true. But speaking as a guy, many if not most of the more outspoken feminists (those that find it necessary to announce "I'm a feminist" as if what they're about to say could not otherwise be properly undestood) sure tend to give me the impression that they want to work men over good. Maybe I'm misreading them, maybe they're not communicating well, but there it is (and I DON'T think I'm the only guy that has been given this impression). For me, what seems to really create this impression are statements about how men discriminate against women, or oppress women, etc. I have not desire to put people down, and try to treat everyone I deal with fairly and courteously. I react very negatively to implications that I share in some sort of collective gender guilt, because I simply do not believe it to be true (and I know that when someone tries to push it on me, it is a personal attack).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 12:26 PM

"There seems to be an underlying thread here that you are somehow betraying women and/or feminism if you do not select careers that are not traditionally women's careers."

I don't think anyone has said anything like this here today. Feminism isn't about selecting only "male dominated" careers. It's about being what you want to be without the constraints of discrimination and stereotyping. If a women wants to be a nurse or teacher, more power to her. If she "stays at home", it's a choice I might not agree with but she is entitled to make it. Free country and all.

There is a lot of wrong assumptions about feminism and it's not about "victimhood", being a nazi or any such thing. As someone else said above, just because women advance doesn't take anything away from the men. Males are threatened and so some behave badly and we have seen a glimpse of this attitude in a couple of poster's responses.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 12:28 PM

"I've worked in a place where the "boys" go out to lunch, network with important people and leave out the women."

So schedule a weekly "take a guy to lunch" day. That's what guys do.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 12:28 PM

'"women shouldn't be taking jobs away from men when they're just going to quit and have babies, anyway."

Um, isn't that what you did? I mean, quit and have a baby? So didn't your class have a point, sort of?' - SAHM

Doesn't matter - she is entitled to whatever education she wants. She had what it took to get into the school - if she took some guy's spot, well, he didn't have what it took to get in so he shouldn't have been in just because she MIGHT quit to have a family.

MP - I DO think that women are their own worst enemy sometimes. I see women standing around all preening and catty at parties - it is very annoying and such a sad game - a clear sign of serious self-esteem issues - it is a no-win situation and I can't take very much of it.
I also have found that guys are a whole lot more fun and easy to hang out with - most of the time guys think I am making up how much I know about sports but I can follow any sports almost as well as any guy. . .I haveonly been married for four years but so I have very little problem with my mother-in-law - on my worst day of housekeeping I am better than she is -same goes for cooking - my problem is with my mother - I never was good enough in her eyes and she always played favorites with my brother (observed by outsiders as well). My serious self-esteem issues stem from years of her crowing over my brother and whata great athlete and student he was (he was both - and is now a doctor. I managed to complete two Masters degrees but still have no idea what I want to do with my life - I am always looking for her approval - even at 38 - and it drives me crazy. I know that I can't do enough to do as well as my brother so I just stopped trying. . .sad, because deep-down I think I am pretty smart and have a lot to offer, but don't BELIEVE it - big difference. . .

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 12:29 PM

About TV -

Call me - Beep me - anytime you need me!

Kim Possible.

Posted by: Naked Mole Rat | October 30, 2006 12:31 PM

Hey, if it's a so-called feminist "pity party" up in here, then talk about some other biases. Discussion about sexism just happens to dominate the blog right now. But frankly, a term such as "feminazi womyn discussion" is sexist in itself. And you guarantee that the discussion will stay firmly rooted in the merits of your comment and feminism and sexism in general. Therefore, thanks for YOUR contribution to this so-called yawnfest!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 30, 2006 12:31 PM

You are doing exactly what you are criticizing. You don't want to be lumped with men who discriminate, but you are putting anyone who is a declared feminist into one group.

Feminism is not a bad word. People (men and women) critize it because they are threatened by women who want to have the same opportunities as men--in the workplace and society. We are a long way off from achieving parity (check out above posts detailing our lack of representation in higher levels of government).

Posted by: to 12:26 anonymous poster | October 30, 2006 12:32 PM

Math was by far my worst subject throughout public school (straight A's in English, SS, science, etc, B's and C's in math). For some reason I got put in advanced math classes where I just kept plugging away with support from my parents.

Now I'm a successful civil engineer and use math every day. Go figure.

A lot can be said for kids getting positive support from their parents on what they are capable of doing. It can make all the difference in how they feel about themselves and what they want to do.

Posted by: John | October 30, 2006 12:40 PM

cmac and MP - I wonder if the three of us got together, whether or not we would have a good time as three women who have a hard time with the inane stuff that a lot of women seem to thrive on. . .

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 12:41 PM

'if you don't like what your husband or any other man says to you, get a restraining order against him, the courts hand them out to women , no questions asked. . .'

this is not true - look at the two women here in the DC area, one of whom was killed and one of whom was nearly burned to death - both by men whom the women had asked the courts for restraining orders against - those restraints were not granted and both of those women paid dearly because the judge did not take them seriously. This is not a subject to be flip about - it is very serious and it costs hundreds of women their lives every year.

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 12:45 PM

To those whose kids are in schools where the teachers seem sexist, well, I'm not wildly surprised. Below are a few casual observations based on 6 years worth of discussions with would-be teachers:

Every semester I get college students who want to go into high school teaching as a career. Mostly women, some men. Men usually want to "be good role models for teenage boys;" women usually want to "work with children." These students are (mostly) bright, well-meaning, energetic, dedicated. I have to say, though, that I have no evidence that any of them spends much time thinking about gender roles while training.

This often seems to lead to a lack of awareness of gender as a topic, or even an outright buying-in to society's roles, especially among the women (women are nuturers! And gentle! And pretty! And kind!). I wonder whether this is because high school and elementary teaching is such a female job that women going into it don't necessarily have to challenge societal assumptions about gender.

By contrast, the men seem to have thought much more about their motives and goals, perhaps since they're in the minority as they enter a feminized profession. I'm usually more impressed with their motivations than with those the women profess--sure, it's great that the women love children, but (a few curmudgeons on this blog aside), who doesn't? And how safe a statement is that, anyhow? It would be nice to see these would-be female teachers challenge themselves more than this, especially since their lack of awareness may well have a profound effect on the very children they claim to love.

Posted by: Mass. Prof. | October 30, 2006 12:45 PM

star11, cmac, MP... I'm in your camp as well. I think there may be a lot of us on this board.

Posted by: Neighbor | October 30, 2006 12:46 PM

to re: housework - I feel your pain. I read once (possibly untruthfully 'cause I don't remember the source) that Betty Friedan said you should NEVER answer the question "where's the butter?" because then you will become responsible for the butter, the knives, the bread, the plates, and the floor.

I lost that battle in my marriage years ago and now I do the lion's share of the housework as a gift to both of us. I decided that it wasn't worth it to me to argue it out, but it was a really fraught decision. I felt that I could make it because I really am an equal partner in other ways, but it still sits on my conscience a bit, especially now that I am raising a son.

For the larger issues I have so many experiences on both sides - being encouraged and being discouraged, on the basis of gender. I do find the social expectations the hardest to deal with - I found it easier to stand up and fight for equal treatment in math classes, but harder to get past pressure to be the one who cares about the house/manages family relationships/etc. while doing that (and there is only so much energy to go around and that results in less time to study math).

Posted by: Shandra | October 30, 2006 12:55 PM

"I don't get it"
....so how are you suffering? I'm confused. I'm not suffering, and I'm as white and male as they get.

Posted by: sct | October 30, 2006 12:57 PM

"People (men and women) critize it because they are threatened by women who want to have the same opportunities as men--in the workplace and society."

No, this is wrong. Men these days don't give a tinker's _____ about women being able to get any education they want, any job they want, do whatever the heck it is they want. We do absolutely HATE feeling beat up for the sins of our fathers (and grand-fathers, and great-grandfathers, . . .) who were, after all, just guys trying to build good lives with our mothers (and grand-mothers, and great-grand-mothers, . . .) and, above all, WERE NOT US. Were they flawed, and limited by the prejudices of their times? Heck yeah. And guess what - so are you! (and so am I, for that matter).

People are just people. I find it so bizarre that we have posters who find it necessary to declare not just that they're feminists, but "masculanists" as well - what the heck is up with that? I think of my grandfather, who was the kindest, gentlest man I ever met. He sent both his daughters to college - they were the first from either side of the family to do so - and consistently treated everyone with kindness and consideration. He never had to declare himself a this or a that - he just treated people right. (And yes, my grandmother, who's now 101, is a wonderful person too - but nearly as easy going.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:02 PM

Correction:

(And yes, my grandmother, who's now 101, is a wonderful person too - but NOT nearly as easy going.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:04 PM

"(women are nuturers! And gentle! And pretty! And kind!)"

And these are all, of course, very, very bad traits that we would never tolerate in our boys.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:05 PM

"So schedule a weekly "take a guy to lunch" day. That's what guys do."

Not so simple. It's obvious they want to be together. It's hard to offer to take your supervisor out to lunch---would be awkward to pay for your boss. They discuss going to lunch in front of me and make it obvious that women are not included. In fact last week, in front of me they asked a very junior boy to go and I'm saavy enough socially to know that I couldn't just ask if I could tag along. Awkward.

I know I'm in an office where the boys have been buddies for a long time. It's something I discuss with others outside the office--how to interact, what to say, do. But it's a losing proposition when someone who is different tries to enter the club. I don't take it personally, but I make mental notes so when I move on, I'll learn from it.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 1:10 PM

"No, this is wrong. Men these days don't give a tinker's _____ about women being able to get any education they want, any job they want, do whatever the heck it is they want. We do absolutely HATE feeling beat up for the sins of our fathers (and grand-fathers, and great-grandfathers, . . .) who were, after all, just guys trying to build good lives with our mothers (and grand-mothers, and great-grand-mothers, . . .) and, above all, WERE NOT US."

That comment cannot be more wrong. Some men do "give a tinkers ___" and do what they can to subvert women and anyone else who trys to compete with them.

I think you take these comments too personally. If you don't discriminate and you support women, good for you. But you need to see where society in general has fallen down.

And we are not blaming men from the past. It is some men (and even women)of TODAY who we criticize for discriminating and harassing women. Be it in schools, the workplace or whereever.

I can see that there are enough me who feel threatened enough by women who out this type of discrimination.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:14 PM

I mean "men" I can see that there are enough men who feel threatened enough by women who out this type of discrimination.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:15 PM

"star11, cmac, MP... I'm in your camp as well. I think there may be a lot of us on this board. "

True that.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 30, 2006 1:24 PM

I don't get it"
....so how are you suffering? I'm confused. I'm not suffering, and I'm as white and male as they get.

No one is suffering that's the point!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:28 PM

Neighbor, Star11 and MP, Great observation on whether or not women that prefer the company of men can get along as women. I'd love input on this. My women friends are varied, but when they start talking decorating/shopping/babies ad nauseum I tend to seek out the boys.

Just wondering, do you all talk on the phone a lot? I don't, haven't since HS. I know women that call each other every morning to dish as soon as the kids are on the bus, or on their way to work. They have to compare schedules, what they are wearing, what they watched on TV the night before - it is silly. I had a neighbor that called me all the time and it drove me crazy, I finally stopped answering the phone and she got the message.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 1:30 PM

First off I am not father of four or forty or whatever. Second, it is an UNFAIR world. Third, men are tired of listening to women whine and complain but not DO anything about it. Your boss masturbates in front of you? SUE AND SUE DEEP. I have a daughter and a wife that I love. I want them to have all the opportunity of anyone else, but NOT feel entitled to a fair, perfect world. Women you are your worst enemy. The cattiness and emotional angst is breathtaking.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 1:31 PM

Yes, the pendulum has strung too far the other way. This is not the first time it has happened for the Political Correctness cause, and unless we learn from THIS mistake, it will not be the last.

Too bad the kids have to pay for the mistake.

Posted by: facing reality | October 30, 2006 1:31 PM

I am with star11, cmac, MP -- I appreciate women who can hold their own in conversations about gender neutral topics -- the economy, the upcoming elections, etc. One of my greatest joys recently was a dinner party where the lone male guest discovered that women talk about things besides the stuff on the pages of Cosmopolitan. (His context was the women at a typical large Southern public university).

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 30, 2006 1:32 PM

I have read these posts with interest and agree with those posters who see that discrimination is now more subtle, but is nevertheless strong.

I wonder if I hold myself back or if the expectations of my bosses are holding me back. There is evidence for both of those assertions. On one hand, I don't work too late because I feel like if I am not home in time to make dinner, I have failed in some way, but I see that my husband doesn't take that kind of responsibility on himself. On the other hand, my position at work hasn't improved in years, and I think it is because I don't have a good relationship with my (male) boss. He thinks I am too emotional, I am guessing, so he doesn't criticize me, so I don't deliver what he wants me to deliver. When I told my boss's boss that I am pregnant, he said, "well, life is going to change." It made me think, "yeah, I know it will change, but is that code for 'I'm not going to give you as much responsibility.'?" What if I want to return to work full time, I guess that makes me a bad mother.

The interplay of expectations -- our own and those around us -- and our actions is so complicated. It's good that researchers are looking at it, but I am not confident that it will translate soon into more equality for women and more freedom for both men and women to pursue the kind of life they want to pursue.

Posted by: thoughtful | October 30, 2006 1:35 PM

When I told my boss's boss that I am pregnant, he said, "well, life is going to change." It made me think, "yeah, I know it will change, but is that code for 'I'm not going to give you as much responsibility.'?" What if I want to return to work full time, I guess that makes me a bad mother.

Maybe he just meant that things change after you have a baby? I had many people say this to me when I was pregnant.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 1:39 PM

EUREKA! A women who coolly analyzes her situation, her role in and takes responsibility rather than the lame "the world is sexist, it's institutional etc,etc etc". You are great THOUGHTFUL! My hat is off to you!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 1:41 PM

Of course, lots of people have said that to me as well. This was said in the context of me saying that I would like to resume my current work schedule at some point a couple of months after my baby was born partially because I had some deliverables that come due about that time. Like I said, I am not disputing that life will change drastically. I was just wondering if he had made a similar statement to my male colleagues and had made the same assumptions that they were not going to be able to carry the same burden.

Posted by: thoughtful | October 30, 2006 1:44 PM

Like many others in this string, I graduated HS in 1982 -- with a rural Southern, traditional sort of upbringing that included my parents ensuring that I learned how to type and play the piano "so that I could take care of myself if my husband weren't able to one day". But I was the "smart chick" in school whose only B was in HomeEc, and it was always assumed that I would go to college. My parents were being supportive and, in absence of direction/preferences expressed by me, would fill the void based on their own experience (Dad engineer, Mom SAH). Dad was thrilled when I wanted to major in computer science, and dismayed but still supportive when I switched to liberal arts. The funniest, though, was the Christmas I brought home a 'serious' college boyfriend. Mom and Dad, truly being thoughtul, made sure they had a gift for him even though they'd never met him. They gave a tool kit. I responded to my Dad with a sly grin, "I don't have a toolkit -you trying to keep me dependent on him?" and NEVER had such a swift reaction as he got me my very own toolkit!
Parents do try -- give them enough space to meet on normal human terms and try an honest (not belligerent) reaction or two and they'll usually step up! Even if they are still bewildered by the career I chose, far from the usual path of my childhood peers, they're sure it's fascinating and important and are always concerned/supportive. I fully expect they'll treat my son just as well.

Posted by: '82 grad | October 30, 2006 1:45 PM

Stereotypes and type casting abound today. The generalizations used to place the sexes, the races, the classes etc into comparable boxes seem too simplistic, and the resulting arguments and conclusions hopelessly flawed. Today's blog included.

American society elevates the role of the individual to incredible heights but loves to cut people down with arrogant judement based upon first glance appearance. Is that fair? Clearly it is not. Can the government pass laws to make it fair? Yes. Are those programs effective? Debatable. Are THEY fair? Questionable.

The upbrining of future generations is incomplete without manners, effective communication, ethics, integrity and honor. Hard to draw up that curriculum isnt it?

When the schools step into this breach and start teaching morality and socialization they often overstep what many consider to be the school's mandate to educate.

Parents are the solution. IMHO both parents. Maybe that arrogant absolutist opinion gets me into hot water with the part of the women's movement that considers relations with men obsolete (smom are you still out there?), but so be it.

Posted by: Fo3 | October 30, 2006 1:45 PM

Philosopher John Rawls has an incredibly powerful concept called the Veil of Ignorance. Theory goes like this: if we set up the laws of our society before being born -- from behind the so-called Veil of Ignorance -- before knowing whether we were going to be male, female, disabled, brilliant, rich, poor, psychopathic, black, white, latino, etc, we would all set up a society that is truly fair to everyone, no matter what circumstances you're born into. Imagining how you would set up our society's laws (legal and cultural) from behind this veil is a good way to check whether we're all as fair and unbiased as we like to think.

Posted by: Leslie | October 30, 2006 1:46 PM

"Men usually want to "be good role models for teenage boys;" women usually want to "work with children." "

Why on earth is wanting to work with children a less worthy reason than wanting to "be good role models for teenage boys". This seems to me like typical discrimination against women where their reasons for wanting a career are less valid than a man's. Work with children is probably a shorthad for 1. enjoying children, 2. wanting to influence the future generation, 3. wanting to help younger people out and a long list of other reasons that are very good logical reasons for choosing a career. I personally have a problem with men choosing a career where they will be teaching both boys and girls for a reason that includes only the boys.

Posted by: kep | October 30, 2006 1:50 PM

Patrick,

Life is not so simple as "SUE, SUE, SUE". Consider these facts: 1) women (people) who do sue ("whistleblowers") are marked as troublemakers and their careers can be serverely adversely affected. Who wants to hire someone who "caused a fuss"? Just look at how whistleblowers are portrayed in the media. 2) It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to sue. Lawyers do not take these cases on contingency and I did consult an attorney who told me I'd have to mortgage my house, 3) our discrimination laws are not enforced. Sure we hear about a few cases once in a while, but most cases are not pursued, most that are pursued, the complaintant loses or receives very little compenstation. Businesses know this and so are not motivated to do anything to prevent or root out discriminary behavior.

I had to weigh the emotional and financial toll of pursuing legal action and decided I couldn't do it to me or my family. And part of my reasons too was that my former boss(es) began to tell folks that I left because I was a troublemaker, I was a risk to clients, etc. These people made up all kinds of stories about me and other women who left (including some who have sued) and when people throw mud (even if it is vicious lies), some can stick. I need my career and I couldn't go through this.

This is why we need stronger laws to protect people in work, home, etc. It is naive to think that we are protected from illegal behavior. People will do whatever it takes to win including lying and abuse.

And "thoughtful", your comments were just that.


Posted by: To Patrick | October 30, 2006 1:53 PM

Whoa, pATRICK,

If I seemed to say that it is all my fault, then I didn't say it right. I admit that some of stuff holding me back comes from inside my own head. Where did it get there, though? Expectations from my parents, friends, TV, school, and society at large, I presume.

But there is plenty of stuff coming from outside my own head as well. When I got my MBA, there were definitely other students and professors who felt like it was a waste for women to get MBAs because they were not going to work 80-hour work weeks and were going to step out of the office to be homemakers and moms. I am now working in a small non-profit trade association and 6 of the 7 directors are men. The men have been around longer, sure, but it is clear that they are more comfortable with each other, which translates into a better relationship working with each other. When the Board comes into town, the guys hang around and shmooze with them while many of the women help clean up. So, I'm aware that I could change some of my own attitudes, but I don't think that would solve the whole problem.

Posted by: thoughtful | October 30, 2006 1:53 PM

Thanks for your response and support. I feel much better knowing I'm not alone!

Posted by: to Shandra | October 30, 2006 1:59 PM

No thoughtful, I did'nt mean to imply that it was "all" your fault. Maybe some, maybe none. My point was that one must always assess the situation and take the responsibility that they played or did not play. Too many of these posters take the easy track of "never my fault", "it justs institutional sexism" etc. The problem with women and especially on forums is this constant whining and victimhood. Perhaps that is what many of these women are portraying to bosses, spouses and others. Then they get on these forums and other women commiserate rate than offer action.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 2:05 PM

"That comment cannot be more wrong. Some men do "give a tinkers ___" and do what they can to subvert women and anyone else who trys to compete with them."

Compete? Absolutely - men compete in business, in politics, at play . . . in pretty much any realm they find themselves. They can also cooperate (as evidenced by the popularity of team sports among men), and form pretty tight groups. These are pretty basic behaviors, that will not change (at least, I don't see them changing). But that's a far cry from men, as a group, trying to subordinate women, as a group. (We compete just as hard with each other, often, vigorously, and with great relish.)

All to often the dragons we try to slay are within ourselves. The problem with this is that the things are so dang hard to kill!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:06 PM

"Like I said, I am not disputing that life will change drastically. I was just wondering if he had made a similar statement to my male colleagues . . . "

I'm a middle-aged guy, and yes, I say that to any prospective new parent, whether male or female. (Why, because it's true beyond the wildest imaginings of any non-parent.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:10 PM

Wow, I've heard LOADS of sexist comments in my time and I graduated high school in 1992. Only my parents have told me that I can do anything that I set my mind to...but even they have wavered from time to time. I remember my dad forcing me to drop shop class and take Home Economics. What a useless class. I came home one day and set the table according to what I learned in class...my dad yelled at me and told me to get all those damn dishes off of the table, we'd never use them. Wow, I see how useful THAT class was....

I experienced racism during high school. I wanted to take honors English and there was this one teacher who had serious issues with minorities. She intentionally gave me and the other minorities lower grades, accused me of cheating/plagerism if my paper looked good, and then was shocked when she gave the minorities (the ONLY people who had grades low enough in the class to be required to take the final exam) mostly aced the standardized test she gave us.

When I went to college, I had to face racism and sexism. Of course, I went to a very prestigous and highly selective military academy. I had written to one of my high school math teachers (who also told me I would do well in math) several times to tell him how I was doing and he never wrote back. I visited him on spring break and asked him why he never wrote me and he said it was because he thought that I would never make it and by the time his letter got to me I would be gone....

Fast forward a few years and the litany of insults has never stopped. Whether it was because I was too pretty to be taken seriously, or I looked too young to be taken seriously, or I couldn't possibly be smart enough to have graduated from a military academy because I am a minority, etc. The white male who is junior to me will be saluted and greeted, while I am ignored. People telling me how suprised they are that I am so articulate. (WTF is that supposed to MEAN anyway???) Comes with the territory I guess, but for some reason, I just can't let it go. I worked in the private sector briefly and life was much better. People took me seriously and only cared about the quality of my work and supported me. I guess the military is the last holdout of sexism and racism.

But I never stopped believing that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I was willing to work hard, no matter what people told me.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | October 30, 2006 2:11 PM

I'm a 25 yo engineer answering the 24 yo engineer who posted earlier. Honestly, where I work I don't worry about being the girl (though people know who's on the phone faster), but I do feel conspicuous in my youth in some groups of 60+ yo scientists. In the few years I've been at my job I haven't run into any discrimination. Their manhood seems unaffected by my presence.

I do remember in college though some of my engineering buddies saying that they wouldn't date/marry another engineer. Apparently we were just too much "one of the guys". It annoyed me and made me think less of them and their girlfriends. I don't understand how manhood is affected by a man's significant other or his female co-workers.

I'm sorry, Granny, that sounds awful. I'd have spent my time wanting to punch someone.

Posted by: Running | October 30, 2006 2:12 PM

Neighbor, Star11 and MP, cmac:

Funny, I've always gotten along very well with men, too, though I also have great relationships with women. However, most of the female friendships I've formed are with women older than me who've already had kids/careers and are way past the insecurity fraught 20's and early 30's and much more mellow and secure. I do love talking about clothes, decorating, babies, etc., but I also like talking about other stuff, too (as you may have guessed from my voluminous posts, I like talking-- period). I wish that relationships with women my own age (30) weren't so much about what people are wearing, whom they're dating, etc.-- but I also suspect this will change as my age group matures, too (I hope at least). One thing that is true is that I can be more direct with my guy friends-- I can come right out and say, "Dude, what are you thinking? You KNOW that's a bad idea." and whether they laugh it off or take it seriously, they don't feel mortally wounded that I directly disagreed with them; I can also be much more goofy/silly with guy friends. With my female friends I have to be more diplomatic and couch things carefully because they tend to be more insecure (myself included!); they also tend not to get my sense of humor as much. Thank god my husband and I are both goofballs.

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 2:12 PM

Thoughtful - Why are you cleaning up instead of schmoozing? Are you afraid of what the other women will say/think? Men? Go ahead and schmooze.

Posted by: CMAC | October 30, 2006 2:13 PM

"I personally have a problem with men choosing a career where they will be teaching both boys and girls for a reason that includes only the boys."

Please get off it. If I had a dime for every time I've heard or read a woman say "I want to be a good role model for all the young women who . . ." I would be richer than Bill Gates. Either give guys the right to aspire to being role models for young men, shut the heck up about wanting to be role models for young women, or give up any pretence of caring about fairness.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:14 PM

CMAC, I try to hang around and shmooze. I know it's important to my job. But haven't you ever been in a cocktail party situation where the circle doesn't open to include you, you don't get the joke and don't know the people the joke is about? That's what it often feels like.

Posted by: thoughtful | October 30, 2006 2:19 PM

"I do remember in college though some of my engineering buddies saying that they wouldn't date/marry another engineer. Apparently we were just too much "one of the guys". It annoyed me and made me think less of them and their girlfriends. I don't understand how manhood is affected by a man's significant other or his female co-workers."

Well, part of what's going on is that whole yin/yang, opposites attract, "yuck, that's like kissing your sister" thing. For most men, romance typically involves a relationship with someone who is not "just like me." It's great if your wife or girlfriend is enough "one of the guys" to genuinely enjoy many of the same things you enjoy, but someone who really seems like "just another guy" isn't going to set any sparks going. (And really, would you be interested in a guy who seemed like "just another girl?" Or do you want some the difference to go further than genitalia?)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:20 PM

These comments interest me. I graduated near the top of my large public HS is 1978 and got a BS and MS in engineering. I have honestly never really felt that I have been treated differently as a woman, except by my own mother. She feels that a career is a good thing to have "in case something happens to your husband," and that my husband is humoring me to let me work (so understanding when dinner isn't ready)! My dad always said to go as far as brains would take me. Our 16 year old daughters seem to experience little bias in their large, racially diverse HS, except for sports. Maybe this will change for their daughters?

Posted by: Kirsten | October 30, 2006 2:22 PM

I've always had a lot of guy friends but I can also get along with my girl friends too. I don't get that people are more insecure in their 20s or 30s though. I didn't have a problem in my 20s and I seem to be doing okay now. Perhaps it's just the women you are hanging around with JKR.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 2:23 PM

"People telling me how suprised they are that I am so articulate. (WTF is that supposed to MEAN anyway???)"

I'm sorry you got such a backhanded compliment-- people who say stuff like that truly think they are being nice! Unbelievable! My husband and his family are minorities (Turks) in Germany and got the same treatment. (Actually, they live in the US now and since they are white/Euro featured and DC is fairly cosmopolitan regarding (upper-middle class) foreigners, they don't get much flak anymore.) When my German grandparents met his parents they said with surprise and delight after they left, "Well, they are very nice people!" Of course, they meant to show how open minded they are, but it was just a reminder that his parents had a hole to dig out of in the first place. (They were shocked to find my in-laws were well educated and secular, not high school dropout, working class fundamentalist Muslims, which is the German stereotype of Turks.) Or another good one my hubby heard a lot was, "For me, you are a German". This "compliment" was meant to laud his ability to assimilate into German culture. (It's not a perfect parallel but imagine someone saying to you "For me you're an American" when you've lived your whole life here or "Personally, I regard you as white." when all you want is to be accepted for exactly who you are.) Unbelievable what people say sometimes without even realizing how racist it is!

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 2:37 PM

Sorry for the long post here...

Well...I think we can also differentiate between individuals and culture in this debate a little bit. Do I think that men as a group are out there trying to screw women? No. But I do think that we have a culture that tends to recognize male accomplishment, and so we think from inside this system in ways that are not always obvious. Entrenched power structures tend to be self perpetuating, and the patriarchy is self perpetuating (for example, the law firm I work at has the big client dinner at a golf course that doesn't allow women in the clubhouse) and as old as time, but this doesn't mean that men are enemies of feminism. It's just easier for me to see that I'm outside the clubhouse then it is for a man who's inside. Same way with other cliques -- easy to feel excluded when you're outside of them, hard to see that you're being exclusive when you're inside.

Does this make the people in cliques bad people? No.

WEB Dubois had this idea of "double consciousness". Because upper middle class, white heterosexual males are the most "normative", as constructed by our culture, and non-white, non-rich, non-males have to live in this culture as "other", these individuals develop a public identity in which they have to subsume some of their "otherness." For example, some black women choose to straighten their hair because it looks european. So, "othered" individuals have two consciousnesses -- a secret self identity, and an identity they put on to live in the "normative" world.

And to 12:26, I suspect that you haven't taken the time to look into the feminist movement -- your ideas seem to me to be rooted in the feminazi stereotype. Check out this list of feminists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_feminists. Feminism is more than man-hating. There are maternal standpoint feminists, eco-feminists, feminists who believe that women are essentially different from men, feminists who believe that women are essentially the same. The feminist movement is not some monolithic organization with an agenda -- it's a multifaceted, fractilized movement that is an extension of humanism.

And as far as feminist choices go...I'm going to be controversial and say that the most feminist thing a woman can do is to try and buck all the stereotypes, get a highpaying job in some traditionally male industry or to buck those stereotypes in another way. But this kind of behavior has a reletively small impact on the feminist movement -- one more woman heading up a corporation, for example, is not going to change the world. So, the benefit to feminism is marginal. But the personal cost can be enormous to do so, especially because we have been raised with certain ideas about what a woman should or shouldn't do -- I think there can be a powerful self-hate among successful women, who feel that they're less "womanly" because they're not living up to whatever ideal of feminity they subscribe to. This is why I think a lot of women don't try to go into top management -- the personal cost is high compared to the low marginal benefit for feminism. I don't think this makes women who make other choices "bad feminists" -- that's a label you can only apply to yourself. I guess what I'm saying is that change is slow and incremental, and we can't expect everyone to sacrafice themselves on the altar of feminism (god knows I'm not doing that). So do whatever it is that you want to do, but remain vigilant, and when you find inequality, say something about it.

Posted by: Rita | October 30, 2006 2:40 PM

Good point, Scarry -- I think that women have just as varied interests as men (wasn't there a report recently that said there is more difference among the individual sexes than there is between them?). So if you don't find a group whose interests mesh with yours, keep looking.

Personally, I once tried to join a women's club, because I liked their mission and wanted to spend some time trying to do some good in the world. About 6 months in, we started discussing the annual fundraiser -- and after spending about 15 minutes talking about what/where/when, etc., they spent the next HOUR discussing the details of the party favors and table gifts and stuff. Bored me sh*tless.

But point is not that they were "stupid" or needed to grow up or anything. For them, the meetings were social hour, where they could sit and chitchat endlessly with their friends -- they were mostly teachers, spent all day with kids, so they wanted to extend their kid-free time as long as possible. I, on the other hand, wanted to be more efficient -- get in, do the work, and move on (plus I was pregnant with my daughter, so my stamina was really, really limited). Once I realized that we had different interests and goals, I just quit and found other groups of people who were more like me to hang out with.

Posted by: Laura | October 30, 2006 2:40 PM

Re: "For me, you are __________"

Don't automatically take such statements wrong. What it often means is "I think of you as being just like me." They're trying to tell you that they no longer think of you as being different, strange or foreign. And after all, isn't that what we want? For people to see us simply as just another human being, and not as a member of some other group?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:42 PM

For those women who are bored with "female conversation," what you need to do is not give up on women but pick a better class of female friends. I have both men and women friends (I am female) and I pick them because they are INTERESTING. Find women who share your interests, rather than writing off a whole gender. I don't chat about Cosmopolitan or shoes either.

And, on another topic - in the midst of all this discussion on women in the workplace, where is the discussion on how to teach our BOYS to be kind, nurturing, and compassionate? We need to value those qualities in men as well as women.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:43 PM

Re: "For me, you are __________"

Don't automatically take such statements wrong. What it often means is "I think of you as being just like me." They're trying to tell you that they no longer think of you as being different, strange or foreign. And after all, isn't that what we want? For people to see us simply as just another human being, and not as a member of some other group?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:43 PM

I dated several women engineer students while I was in college. Married one too. I never felt threatened by them being in the same career field I was in; it was (still is) nice to be able to talk to someone about my field of work without watching their eyes glaze over, in fact.

To Scarry: why did you attempt to read more into what your boss said than what he probably meant? Your life certainly wasn't the same after you had your child; that was probably all he implied with his comment. Many women I know tend to do that; analyze every statement, every comment, to see if there is some hidden, deeper meaning to it, when most of the time the simplest explanation is the right one. He was probably just voicing the obvious to you.

Posted by: John | October 30, 2006 2:45 PM

"The problem with women and especially on forums is this constant whining and victimhood. Perhaps that is what many of these women are portraying to bosses, spouses and others. Then they get on these forums and other women commiserate rate than offer action."

Very nice generalizing about all women. And it's sexist to call it "whining" and "victimhood". If men complain do you characterize it as such? And men do tell their stories as well.

With regard to my situation--I worked in a place for several years under a (male) boss who was fair and supportive. I felt appreciated and treated as an equal to the males in my office. When a known sexual harrasser succeeded him, the problems began. Calling what I am describing as "whining" and "victimhood" is playing the blame game. No doubt I suppose I could have left when he took over so that I could have prevented his actions (obviously I'm being facetious).

You are devaluing women's experiences by calling us names and accusing us of not taking the blame for what happens to us. My situation was blatant--but you cannot discount the subtle forms of discrimination against women by accusing us of "whining". As others have pointed out--the power is in the hands of the white male. The president, most of congress, most of the high courts and if you are evidence of the attitude about these issues, then we can extrapolate that other males in these positions of power can easily dismiss these issues as well.

So if you do not like these discussions (the title of today's blog IS "Sex and Success....") then you are free to occupy your time elsewhere. It is useful for the rest of us to discuss these things so others can learn from our experiences.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 2:49 PM

John,

I think you have me confused with thoughtful. Everyone told me my life would be different and I took no offense to it. It is different in a good way!

My boss is wonderful!

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 2:51 PM

I agree with JKR - most women I know in their 20's and 30's are insecure, everything in conversation has to be put "delicately." I am very direct and some women don't find that very comfortable, but men like it. JKR is right - you can be very direct with men and even if they don't agree with you they won't hold it against you your whole life.

I tend to hold back when I am with other women, except for a book club I joined. It is made up of 10 women, I am probably one of the youngest. The older women have already "been there, done that" and I don't have to pussyfoot around with them - it is very liberating. We have disagreements about many things and come back the next meeting and everyone is on a level playing field.

Thoughtful - I know what you mean about the cocktail situation and I am not in that many power circles anymore. I used to hand out and catch someone individually then graduate to the "circle" with that person to get included. I just never automatically reverted to clean up role and I know that bothered a lot of the other women. It is all such a stupid game, isn't it?

Posted by: CMAC | October 30, 2006 2:53 PM

"And to 12:26, I suspect that you haven't taken the time to look into the feminist movement -- your ideas seem to me to be rooted in the feminazi stereotype. Check out this list of feminists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_feminists. Feminism is more than man-hating. There are maternal standpoint feminists, eco-feminists, feminists who believe that women are essentially different from men, feminists who believe that women are essentially the same. The feminist movement is not some monolithic organization with an agenda -- it's a multifaceted, fractilized movement that is an extension of humanism."

That's absolutely correct - but almost completely irrelevant as far as the image of feminism among men goes. Most conservative Christians do not blow up abortion centers, believe God sent the hurrican to punish New Orleans, or want to create any sort of theocracy - but that hardly matters, it's the picture of the "Christan right" that many people see. Most Muslims don't want to strap on explosives and blow up innocent people - but enough do that it is coloring our view of Islam. Most Republicans don't molest underage Congressional pages - but they are sure being tarred with that brush.

There are enough hard-edged feminists (and there is enough hard-edged jargon used by other feminists seemingly out of habit) that - whether you see it or not - many men do in fact believe that feminists are out to "screw men over."

I would ask that you step back, think about the language used to advance and defend feminism, and place yourself in the shoes of a man who has never heard it before and does not know the motivations behind it. Some may be very balanced and reasonable. I strongly suspect that you'd find some would strike you - as a man - as strident and threatening. That's the image of feminism that I've inherited (and I DO NOT like it).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:55 PM

We talk so much about women feeling or being made to feel second class. Recently my husband got a taste of the reverse. He is a 2nd year nursing student, completing his OB rotation just a few weeks ago. Every day he would come home complaining about how unfair it was that male nursing students couldn't have the same hands-on experience as the female nursing students. Male students were only allowed to observe physical exams of women, while the female students had hands-on. He felt cheated out of the full learning experience because of his gender, yet he was paying full tuition and not offered any alternative tract. He understood the human aspect of why he was limited as such, especially after having been an integral part of my delivery experience. But it still irked him to no end.

Posted by: M | October 30, 2006 2:55 PM

Thoughtful, that is "hang out" not "hand out" - that sounded really bad.......

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 2:55 PM

I've witnessed a lot of parents that deny sexism when raising their sons and daughters. In other words, they don't have a problem giving their daughter a toy tool set for a birthday present, but never have I seen that same parent give their son a Barbie Doll as a gift.

This is what happens when you give a 6 year old boy a Barbie Doll: He looks up her skirt, takes off her clothes, then twists off her leg to examine how the flexible hinges work.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 30, 2006 2:57 PM

"He understood the human aspect of why he was limited as such, especially after having been an integral part of my delivery experience. But it still irked him to no end."

Ha, I'll bet it did! Guess he will just have to get his jollies somewhere else.

Posted by: chin | October 30, 2006 3:01 PM

M,

What is the reason for that policy? That is silly because he won't have as much experience as the other nurses and what if he has an emergency situation and isn't sure what to do? That's stupid. If I was him, I would organize the other male nurses and file a compliant or even file a lawsuit. Who cares whether he is man or not if he can get the job done.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 3:02 PM

"Perhaps it's just the women you are hanging around with JKR."

Fair enough-- I also live in New York, which is like competitive-catty-woman central (although there are TONS of smart, thoughtful, articulate, non-catty women here, too, and I'm lucky enough to know a few). I just feel that for myself and my group of friends our 20's were very fraught with 'what the hell am I doing with my life'? In my case, it's been all career angst-- in many of my girl friends' case it's been man/marriage angst. It seems women I know in their 40's and 50's, some of whom I have a mentor relationship with, some of whom are just friends, seem to be much more chilled having long gotten over the anxiety about measuring up (which may not be a young woman's thing-- maybe it's just a young *person's* thing, or type-A person anyway :-). They all give me the same advice: I went through the same worries, it's ok, you're right where you need to be, in ten years this will seem like a blip on the radar, you're doing fine. All my 20's/early 30's friends worry constantly that they're not pretty/smart enough to please men/their parents/themselves-- and these are all women who *ARE* all pretty/smart/funny/interesting. I agree we need to collectively get over it (sometimes it really is just so much navel gazing) and I also think about the time we spend worrying about this sh*t when we could be doing something productive or having fun. I also notice my male friends, even the fairly angsty ones, don't seem to waste nearly as much time fretting.

Posted by: JKR | October 30, 2006 3:02 PM

"In high school, I must have had a hundred guys say to me "You're too smart for your own good." What is that supposed to mean? And why did I never hear that phrase directed toward a guy?"

It means that you were being a jackass. And as for it not being directed to guys, you must not have been paying attention - if my dad told me that once, he must have told me a thousand times (and he wasn't the only one, and yes, I am a guy.)

Sometimes we can get too smart with our mouths for our own good

;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:04 PM

F04 - that is so true about Barbie. My son gets ahold of a barbie (we have 2 - my daughter never played with them) - he examines her, usually shoves her shoes on her hands - sticks her in the sink to swim or hangs her from the ceiling fan.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 3:04 PM

Unfortunately or fortunately, female patients are entitled to refuse care from a male nurse/male doctor when it comes to GYN issues. If it was the program (school or hospital) that told a male nurse he could not treat female patients, that is another story. Obviously they cannot do that. It's not clear who is not allowing the male student to examine patients---the program or the patients. If it's the patients, he's out of luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:06 PM

JKR I didn't mean it as an insult. Besides Megan and my friends at work and back home, I have no other female friends. Not to mention that they are all email friends because I moved to the Midwest and now work from home. Almost all the women in my sub division stay at home and I really don't have the time to interact with them between work and school, also online.

Although I do have to say that I really don't want to now becuase one of them had a halloween party and didn't invite my kid. wow, I just vented a lot.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 3:08 PM

JKR

Those are all legitimate worries: where is my life going, am I building a life that's meaningful and worthwhile, am I building the relationships I want and need? Take them seriously, but don't agonize over them.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:08 PM

Actually, I was the one who took my dolls apart to see how they worked. I wasn't known as a little girl who kept her dolls and other possessions dressed up, pretty and intact. In short, I "tore things up." My daughter, 3, has inherited this to some degree.

If you handed my son, nearly six, a doll, I think he'd refuse to take it. However, I think he likes my daughter's My Little Pony but keeps it on the down-low!

But we WOULD have to be different, wouldn't we?:>

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 30, 2006 3:09 PM

Since we are talking about toys has anyone noticed what they did to Strawberry Shortcake? I usually don't buy into the whole Barbie as a horrible thing for little girls to play with idea, but I am a bit depressed that Strawberry and her pals look more like Barbie than they used to. They were my favorite thing to play with when I was little. I had them all!

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 3:13 PM

***For those women who are bored with "female conversation," what you need to do is not give up on women but pick a better class of female friends***

Wow - how rude. Maybe you meant a "different" class of female friends? or "female friends with similar interests" to your own?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:17 PM

Scarry, don't know the Strawberry Shortcake, but what about the Bratz? Good Lord, there's a whole essay in and of itself. I can see the conversation with my daughter when she asks for one: "no, dear, mommy doesn't allow little baby hookers in the house."

And here I was worried about Barbie. . . .

Posted by: Laura | October 30, 2006 3:20 PM

Scarry, I'm dating myself, but my nieces played with Strawberry Shortcake. When I was a little girl, I had Skipper, and when I finally got my Ken doll, it was "Mod Ken." I also had a Chrissy doll too. Guess when I grew up, folks!!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 30, 2006 3:21 PM

Neighbor, JKR and MP, cmac:

'Funny, I've always gotten along very well with men, too, though I also have great relationships with women. However, most of the female friendships I've formed are with women older than me who've already had kids/careers and are way past the insecurity fraught 20's and early 30's'

Me, too - I have two weekly things I go to and the groups are made up of all older women (I am 37) - I have a really good time and the women are wonderful. My husband and I moved here four years ago - I still don't have a lot of girl friends and it really bothers me - I don't really know why - I try but I always end up meeting and getting to know women who are older than I am.

We don't have kids and are a little uncertain about it - not necessarily because I don't want kids, but I just can't imagine standing around and talking about that stuff for the rest of my life - it seems very banal to me. I would much rather talk politics, sports,
anything. . .Part of the reason I am nervous about having kids is that I think I just wouldn't fit in with the moms and that I would feel isolated.

I do not spend a lot of time talking on the phone - I guess I did my fair share in high school but after that - wow - I really didn't see the point.

Laura - your post about joining the women's club was interesting - I think I would feel much the same way about the experience if it was me. You are right - what they were interested in wasn't dumb or stupid- it just wouldn't be what I would want to talk about. . .

I have always felt that there was something about me that women didn't like and that was why I didn't have many women friends - it's not that it is easier to 'hang out with the guys' but I guess they just tend to talk about the things I am interested in and that matter to me.

I know that some part of the reason that I am more comfortable with men is that they do tend to give more positive feedback to me - one of you said something about men getting your sense of humor more than women do - I feel that way, as well. It is good to hear that there are other women with similar feelings and experiences - it makes me feel a lot less weird!
I do think it would be a stitch to see how we all interacted!

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 3:23 PM

"Wow - how rude. Maybe you meant a "different" class of female friends? or "female friends with similar interests" to your own?"

Heavens to betsy - we couldn't possible make a value judgement, could we? (Unless, of course, we're talking about smoking, eating meat, homophobia or actually thinking that religion means something - that would be o.k.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:23 PM

Yes, they are the worst things I have ever seen Laura. Strawberry is not that bad, but they do look differnt.

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 3:23 PM

Wow, I just caught the end of this today. Seems like lots of rock-throwing, but maybe it's because I haven't read the whole string.

FWIW, I saw the show that Leslie is referring to, and I was RIVETED. It was really compelling TV. What I took from it was not only do you need to (1) Empower your kids as confident and self assured people, you also need to (2) Teach your kids so that there is knowledge/capability within them.

I came away with a better feel for why Confidence without Capability is foolishness, and Capability without Confidence breeds underachievers.

Posted by: Proud Papa | October 30, 2006 3:26 PM

"Wow - how rude. Maybe you meant a "different" class of female friends? or "female friends with similar interests" to your own?"

Heavens to betsy - we couldn't possible make a value judgement, could we? (Unless, of course, we're talking about smoking, eating meat, homophobia or actually thinking that religion means something - that would be o.k.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:26 PM

So, someone who enjoys shopping is automatically a lesser class of female? I have a variety of interests, of which shopping is one. I am also interested in many other things which are generally considered intellectual. Does that automatically make me a better class of female? Or does the shopping make me a lesser class?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:32 PM

"I am also interested in many other things which are generally considered intellectual. Does that automatically make me a better class of female? Or does the shopping make me a lesser class?"

You are fine - as long as you shop for books and PBS documentaries ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:35 PM

Scarry - the whole "not getting invited" things really brings out the mother bear instincts, doesn't it? We have been through it a couple times on both sides, my daughter has not been invited to a couple things and handled it pretty good. However, I limited her to 8 girls for a sleepover then 2 or 3 got upset that they weren't invited - and she was so upset. She was so worried the girls that didn't get invited wouldn't like her anymore. It was 8 year old drama.

Also, we used to have a huge neighborhood halloween party at our house - but as we met more people through school, etc - it became unmanageable. When we had to leave people out I stopped holding it - I didn't want to hurt anyones feelings.

We have these same problems as adults too - having "people over" or "going out to dinner" usually means 5 or 6 couples. It never ends.

Posted by: CMAC | October 30, 2006 3:35 PM

When I was a child, my Mom, with my Dad's help, sewed together a teddy bear for a birthday present for me. It was almost a month late, but I didn't mind. It had buttons for eyes that were cut from an old coat and a red, felt tongue beneath his nose. Sometimes he would fall out of bed at night and when I found him laying on the floor, I felt sorry for him and snatched him right up back into bed.

After a while, the seams came apart around his neck and a small trail of stuffing followed us around the house. when my grandmother came to visit, it was her job to sew his neck back up.

to this very day, I need a stuffed animal to hug in order to get a good night's rest. My favorite is a black bear, named Yuppie, almost 18 years old that my sister gave me on Christmas. He is missing the same eye that I am.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 30, 2006 3:40 PM

I know she is to young to realize that she wasn't invited, so I am not to worried about it yet. HOwever, there were kids her age there with older siblings, so I think it might be a reflection of how they feel about me. I geuss I need to get out more. If I could just find the time, I geuss I am to busy hanging out with my husband and very few girls in the pub watching football on Sunday!

Posted by: scarry | October 30, 2006 3:42 PM

Oops, I meant to add that if you want your little boy to get in touch with his nurturing side, I suggest you get him a stuffed animal. It worked for me.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 30, 2006 3:44 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only one with questions about Strawberry Shortcake's and now Holly Hobbie's appearances.

My issues with Bratz ... I agree with the hooker statement, but I sat down and watched a couple of episodes with my daughter and the message (overall) isn't something I'll keep her from. That said, when she wanted a Bratz doll, I only got her a "Campfire" doll. To me, the message of what the girls say is more than about clothes - its about the ups and downs of friendship, the right and wrong way to treat someone, sure, they may be more scantily dressed than I like - but what is more important, substance or appearance? She knows what I'll let her wear.

I try to give her assurance that she can, as a girl, like the color blue (she knows its my favorite color). I can only assume she gets things like "girls like pink and boys like blue" from other kids in her class. And as with behavior issues, how do I shield her from these "truisms" her peers insist are facts?

I was never going to buy her a Barbie ... until her aunt got her one, was never going to allow Bratz ... until her dad's girlfriend got her one (and I'd be accused of being mean spirited keeping the doll from her rather than trying to explain how I didn't think it portrayed the appropriate image) ... my examples of behavior will hopefully be ones she remembers more than from a doll.

Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 3:45 PM

Father of 4.

there is a reason my daughters don't have barbie dolls. (I'd torture them myself, what the freak kind of body image.....)

My oldest daughter has been a princess for Halloween for a few years, and wanted to be Princess Leia this year.

Her last birthday party, her choice, was Star Wars themed and partially due to her friend (2 years older) across the street she thinks Darth Vader is cool.

We've got kitchens, and Darth Taters, footballs, soccer balls and Dora the explorer figurines. And of course little people.

Hold on I forgot my daughter received a vet Barbie for her birthday, and she hardly plays with it. Maybe I should make her come down with Mad cow disease. Then she'd have to be put down.

cmac, nice to know I'm not the only slacker academically. I still find grades to be non-indicative of real learning but it's the system we've got. There is way too much emphasis put on tests these days and at the risk of stifling creativity IMO. Teach to the test, no child left behind also means, NO CHILD GETS AHEAD.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | October 30, 2006 3:45 PM

WORKING MOTHER, yes I would call it whining if men said the same thing to me. So jump off your "sexist' highhorse. Complaining without an action plan is whining regardless of sex. While most men know this and are taught to refrain from it because of ridicule, women seem to revel in it. I also suspect that a large portion of women secretly are sick to death of it too from their women friends, yet endure it because it is part of female culture to empathize regardless of your true feelings.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 3:48 PM

3:32 -

Absolutely not - I guess I remember the post that said something about getting a different group/class of friends or whatever but I don't think it was phrased the way it should have been. Please do not think that I think less of the women who always talk about shopping/decorating/clothes/kids etc. - I just don't know what to say to them - in my own way, I am intimidated by them.

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 3:50 PM

LBG,

I feel the same way you do. I will buy my daughter barbies, I am not so sure about the Bratz yet because they just look so bad. Oh well, I do agree that you daughter and mine shoud get her values from us and not from a doll. :)

Posted by: Scarry | October 30, 2006 3:51 PM

To the anonymous poster:

So, someone who enjoys shopping is automatically a lesser class of female? I have a variety of interests, of which shopping is one. I am also interested in many other things which are generally considered intellectual. Does that automatically make me a better class of female? Or does the shopping make me a lesser class?

Posted by: | October 30, 2006 03:32 PM

I never said women who like shopping are inferior, I just can't sit and talk about fashion, decorating, babies sleep habits, playgroups, hair colors, - for any length of time. I can talk about most things for a short time, but not hours. Why would anyone get offended about someone's conversation habits? You may not like what I talk about, thus we would not talk long. No offense taken.

Also, why do you post anonymously? Just wondering.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 3:52 PM

To the anon. poster at 8:31 am
Yeah, I'm taking some time off to take care of my kid. Doesn't mean that I shouldn't have pursued a career in the first place, or that I shouldn't go back in a few years. And it certainly doesn't mean that women as a gender should be discriminated against. Being a SAHM is just one phase of my life, and it won't (and shouldn't) preclude me from having other phases in my life.

Posted by: NewSAHM | October 30, 2006 3:52 PM

If men complain do you characterize it as such? And men do tell their stories as well.

Yes I say, "Stop acting like a girl!"

couldnt resist.

aaaragh. Men!


Posted by: A nonny mouse, | October 30, 2006 3:54 PM

"Teach to the test, no child left behind also means, NO CHILD GETS AHEAD."

Creativity is great - and if we were all impressed by the obvious quality of education given to our kids, I suspect there'd be no call for testing. Unfortunately, far too many of us are aghast at the apparant lack of education amoung some high-school (and even college) graduates.

So guess what - we want to know that kids are learning what they need to know. That means that somehow, we have to check. The simplest way to do that is say, "well, at a minimum, we have to make sure that kids learn to X, Y and Z" and then test them to see if they do actually know those things. Does that preclude creativity? No (unless we're so bad at teaching the basics that we run out of time for anything else). Is it inconsistent with how we handle other, critical educational issues? Again, no (think of the bar exams and driving tests - shoot, think about someone taking their black belt test in a martial art).

Many of us won't buy a car looking at the Consumer Reports scores on it - is the education of our children any less important? And why are we willing to take a school system's word for how well they're teaching our kids, when we want someone to verify that Honda is making a good car?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:55 PM

"Yeah, I'm taking some time off to take care of my kid. Doesn't mean that I shouldn't have pursued a career in the first place, or that I shouldn't go back in a few years. And it certainly doesn't mean that women as a gender should be discriminated against. Being a SAHM is just one phase of my life, and it won't (and shouldn't) preclude me from having other phases in my life."

Absolutely right. Just remember that a man who takes time off to be a stay-at-home dad will take a career hit too.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 3:57 PM

I agree with Fo4. I had a stuffed white cat that I carried around as a small child, until it had an eye missing, the tail partially ripped off, and there were holes in it where the stuffing came out. I recall at one point my mom sewed it all back together again, and it stayed in my room until I moved out for college. I can still visualize that cat...

Posted by: John | October 30, 2006 3:58 PM

OK< jumping in late in the game. If you want a good doll as a role model for your daughter get American Girl doll. I swear it is the only marketable doll that is a positive image for girls. The rest stink.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 30, 2006 3:59 PM

To Chin - Since it is so late in the day I will choose to take your comment about my husband and his jollies as punchy afternoon humor. If it was not intended that way, then I'll say to you what I tell my toddler - You are NOT NICE and need a TIME-OUT. If you are a woman then I'll venture to guess you don't use male obgyns...which is your prerogative. That doesn't mean that male obgyns shouldn't have the same training as female obgyns.

Any person, male or female, has the right to refuse any medical professional at any time and for any reason. His exclusion was a program policy, not an individual case by case basis with patients.

Posted by: M | October 30, 2006 4:00 PM

star11 - My fear before I had kids was "how in the hell and I going to be one of those "mommies?" - well, guess what? I am one and there is room for everyone in this vast club. You don't have to be a cookie-cutter mom. Good mothers come in all shapes, sizes and have lots of different interests. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 4:00 PM

cmac - my comments were directed to the 2:43 poster who did use the term "better class".

anonymous because I'm at work (since you asked)

Posted by: to cmac | October 30, 2006 4:02 PM

"I also suspect that a large portion of women secretly are sick to death of it too from their women friends, yet endure it because it is part of female culture to empathize regardless of your true feelings."

I'll be the first to say I'm one of the women who is sick of it.


Posted by: whine, whine, whine!!! | October 30, 2006 4:04 PM

American girl dolls are VLI's. You can find a generic doll for under $100.

Posted by: lurker | October 30, 2006 4:05 PM

Slightly off topic but I thought I'd share:

http://www.brainchildmag.com/

It's a literary magazine devoted to parenting. Thought it might appeal to some of the contributors on this board.

Other side note - Leslie nice to see you interject a few times today.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 30, 2006 4:05 PM

The point was not whether either New SAHM or a guy would take a career hit, the point was that, in higher education, there are more than a few men who look at a female student at or near the top of her class and express that hers is a spot "wasted" that otherwise would be occupied by some deserving male, and sole, breadwinner. I graduated from law school in 2000. This isn't some phenomenon from the long-distant past. Several times, male law students expressed either that they had deserving male friends who were denied admission, while X, Y, or Z female was accepted, and wouldn't make full use of her education (based on no characteristics or indicators specific to X, Y, or Z woman) and/or that such students' class rank would be higher accept for the females cluttering up the higher reaches of the rankings. These bitter guys exemplified "whining without a plan".

Posted by: NC Lawyer | October 30, 2006 4:08 PM

Boy does this bring back old memories I thought I had let go of long ago.

Back during my freshman year in high school, I had remarked to my class guidance counselor that I would like to become a physician. To this day, I clearly remember him looking at me with pity and telling me what a noble dream that was, but that I should face reality. He was relatively certain that I would get pregnant and never graduate from high school. He told me to be practical and take home economics type classes because clearly that was what would serve me best in life.

Thank goodness my parents had drilled into my head from day one that I was going to go to college, period.

I'm in my 40s, no spring chicken, but certainly not old! I'm so hopeful that we have all progressed beyond this and that our children receive much better, and fairer, guidance.

BTW, I ended up being an oceanographer (so much more fun), and I didn't manage to get pregnant until last year.

Posted by: MAY | October 30, 2006 4:08 PM

cmac -

thanks for input/encouragment on the mommy issue - we are thinking about adopting but it does worry me that my kids wouldn't have any friends because I sometimes find it hard to interact with women. . .really, thanks! You have no idea how big of an issue it is for me!

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 4:09 PM

"So jump off your "sexist' highhorse. Complaining without an action plan is whining regardless of sex."

I don't believe you when you say if a man told you that he was being harrassed at work you would say he is whining. You are the type of person who is part of the problem. You seem to have a lot of hostility toward women. I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: working mother | October 30, 2006 4:12 PM

Scarry,

I hope I didn't sound snarky - it was more from frustration about me feeling like I can only do so much against the tide of princesses, pink, and dolls. I was more of a tomboy, I've tried to take her hiking and camping ... she doesn't like it much. She can be very timid about trying things the first time and I get so often its like a broke record "but I can't DO it"

Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 4:12 PM

I hate people who think that a spot is wasted because later that person may get married or pregnant. This is the land of the free, you are free to do with your life what you want, if you want a law degree and can get it then decide to stay at home that is no one else's damn business. The PC stalinists of this world irritate the crap out of me.!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 4:13 PM

whine, whine, whine: Empathizing and comiserating are tiresome when they are overused on the nonsense. In college we used to spend hours trying to decipher what a guy meant when he said "I'll call you." I can't have that conversation anymore - I grew up.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 4:14 PM

"If it was not intended that way, then I'll say to you what I tell my toddler - You are NOT NICE and need a TIME-OUT."

Thanks Mom!

Posted by: are you for real? | October 30, 2006 4:14 PM

hey pATRICK!

Are you a starfish?

Solid writing today fwiw.

Posted by: Fo3 | October 30, 2006 4:17 PM

To Are You For Real - Anyone who thinks it is cool to insinuate that my spouse is getting his jollies by feeling up women in labor deserves to be treated like a toddler. Get a life.

Posted by: M | October 30, 2006 4:20 PM

cmac: I can only guess as to what the hell you're talking about, but I assume you mean I shouldn't empathize with someone with your opposing viewpoint because it is "nonsense?"

Posted by: whine whine whine!!! | October 30, 2006 4:25 PM

as a black woman, i think this resonates with me because i, as a child, saw depictions in commercials and programming and everyday life that not only degraded women generally, but completely excluded people who looked like me in any productive role. this is not only disheartening, it is emotionally and psychologically debilitating; not to mention socially disruptive. it is very difficult (though not impossible) to surmount such obstacles and continue as a self-assure and productive member of society after having been either completely ignored or told that you are inferior to every other segment of society. black women are never told that they are superior by the greater machine. we've got to do that for one another. very interesting topic. thank you.

Posted by: arb | October 30, 2006 4:26 PM

LBG,

No I didn't think it was snarky at all.

Posted by: Scarry | October 30, 2006 4:27 PM

star11- Another things comes to mind that I struggled with too (before kids) and that is that I am a true introvert. Not sure if that is your nature or not. I have learned to be an extrovert over the past 10-15 years out of necessity. I never thought I'd be able to have kids and be around people to socialize them because I didn't really want to be around other people - but I have done fine. My kids are more like their extroverted father and he is really great with them, and it has opened me up quite a bit.

There are times I would much rather crawl in bed and read a book but my kids keep me going and doing things I never thought I'd do. Granted - I have a great husband that takes the heat off me and gives me a lot of space when I need it - so being married to the right guy makes a huge difference.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 4:29 PM

"we used to spend hours trying to decipher what a guy meant when he said "I'll call you."

He meant, "I won't call you."

Posted by: Babelfish | October 30, 2006 4:31 PM

black women are never told that they are superior by the greater machine. we've got to do that for one another. very interesting topic. thank you.

I'm sorry but this just sounds racist. Why do you think you are superior?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 4:31 PM

to whine: I thought I was agreeing with you - but maybe I am wrong? What does this mean:

"I shouldn't empathize with someone with your opposing viewpoint because it is "nonsense?"

I was speaking to outgrowing the need to constantly empathize and overdramatize nonsense. Example: "I broke up with my boyfriend for the 5th time, he doesn't want to get married, but I think I should get back together with him." I have a friend that told me this a couple months ago - I could not keep having the same conversation with her about how she should leave him.

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 4:35 PM

you're misreading my comments. i was quoting leslie's reference to Jane Elliott: "'When you are told you're superior, you act up to that.' And vice-versa."

Posted by: arb | October 30, 2006 4:36 PM

bablefish:

"we used to spend hours trying to decipher what a guy meant when he said "I'll call you."

He meant, "I won't call you."

Believe it or not - some women still debate this stuff!

Posted by: cmac | October 30, 2006 4:37 PM

cmac:

Funny - in high school, I ws very much an introvert. Freshmen year of undergrad I got a roommate who was absolutely stunningly beautiful. . .within the first week she had been asked out on 15 dates - at that point, I decided that it was a lot more fun to be an extrovert (I didn't realize for a very long time after that that guys thought I was pretty, too - sad, but it really helped by self-esteem). . . and although I have really changed in that way, there are days where it is just fine if I don't talk to anyone except my husband - who, is the RIGHT guy (didn't meet until I was 29 and we didn't get married until I was 34) but he tends toward the introvert side as well. I think we would be alright with kids - it just takes a big leap. . .

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 4:47 PM

Laura, I agree with you about Bratz dolls. I have two daughters and our house has a permanent Bratz ban. For me, it's not just that the dolls are dressed like hookers. It's also that they have cynical, pouty expressions that remind me of Paris Hilton. If any dolls could convey Hilton's sense of misplaced entitlement, it would be the Bratz dolls. At least some of the Barbie dolls seem to hold steady jobs. Do Bratz teach little girls that they only need to act sexy to get anything they want, that being female is all about being pretty?

Posted by: Tonio | October 30, 2006 4:50 PM

Working Mother, I have a hostility to victimhood and whining and i assure you if a man came to me whining without action he would find little sympathy.I am raising my daughter to find strength in herself to overcome the inevitable obstacles that will come her way, not whine and plead for sympathy on a forum.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 4:52 PM

Not taking sides here, but isn't it possible that what you're hearing isn't really whining, but an attempt to share a problem, seek out alternative interpretations and perhaps even guidance on a course of action

Posted by: Pacifist | October 30, 2006 4:57 PM

No PACIFIST, it is not because what you are proposing is not whining but a request for info and guidance. Whining is "I never get a promotion because of the institutional sexism of corporate america"
etc.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 30, 2006 5:10 PM

Tonio,

I am by no means a sociologist, psychologist, or anthropologist, with that being said, I'll answer your question to the best of my ability.

"Do Bratz teach little girls that they only need to act sexy to get anything they want, that being female is all about being pretty?"

This is where I have a hard time. Their appearance to me, is rather off putting, but once I took the time to watch the show, I feel that the over all message isn't that bad.

Small episodic vignettes:
1) The girls together put out a fashion magazine - ok, its a fashion magazine, but the fact that its girls who are doing it as friends is somewhat empowering.
2) One of the girls puts together a volunteer day (and the girls do everything from help teach someone how to drive, volunteer on an advice call in show, to give a girl a makeover - mixed messages, indeed)
3) There are two girls the "Tweevils" who are more about appearance than substance and are the Bratz nemesis (or is that nemesi?)

The problem comes in with where your lines are drawn. Is it okay for your girls to have the dolls as long as they see the accompanying message of the show? Is the shows message acceptable to you? Are you hatin' on the girls just 'cause they're "pretty"? Are you teaching your children to discredit someone just because they're pretty?
I don't think my influence on my daughter is going to be won or lost on the Bratz front.


Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 5:12 PM

Sorry Tonio, my first name is Laura ... forgot you were talking to the person whose actual Postname is Laura.

Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 5:14 PM

Two comments.
First, a spot is not wasted by a person who may ultimately get married, pregnant, stay home, etc. just as it is not wasted by a person who prematurely dies from an accident, disease, etc. And what about the man who decides to be a SAHD? Maybe there was a woman who could have done more with that spot.
Second, I don't think that it is only little boys who defile poor Barbie. As a girl,I had fourteen Barbie dolls and one Ken. Let's just say, Ken was a lucky man. It's not just boys who are interested in seeing Barbie being naughty.

Posted by: Dazed and Amused | October 30, 2006 5:15 PM

I don't have a daughter (yet?), but I have always said that if I did, she would be allowed one Barbie - and that is it. If she wanted other dolls, she could have more 'realistic' ones (if there are such things). My husband's niece gets almost every one that there is, and has a lot of Bratz stuff, too. Meanwhile, she is having a hard time reading (already held back once) and her mother is not getting her the help she needs. She is in cheerleading (another thing my girl would not do unless she asked) - which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not balanced out with anything academic - plus cheerleading is all that the girls in his family live for (they are in FL - which I have figured out revolves around cheerleading and football). Anyway - I am very worried about this little girl. She is almost 9 and most likely could not get through a Dr. Suess book - my 8 yr old niece is reading 'Where the Red Fern Grows' books like that - it will certianly be interesting to see where these girls end up ten years from now.

I don't have anything against cheerleading per se, just when there is not anything else offered to 'balance' it out and to let the girl know that she can be smart, too.

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 5:17 PM

[So "Patrick and Fo4" are you part of the problem or do you want to continue to tell us we have "an attitude problem" and call us "feminazis"? I think we
know the answer.]

Working Mother, even though you try to speak for all feminist, it is *YOU* with the attitude problem. any group that advocates "screwing" anybody, I simply will not go along with. Case closed! And if you catagorize yourself as a true feminist, in actuality, you are hurting the group of women that I'm trying to empower.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 30, 2006 5:23 PM

As a member of the "next generation" of feminists (I'm 25), I often wonder why the debate doesn't focus more on equal options for boys as well as girls, and for men as well as women. To the poster whose boss felt she wouldn't want to work 80 hours a week because she would rather have been home with the kids, why didn't the boss understand that male employees don't like working 80 hours a week either? To the woman whose employer was surprised she would want to get back to work so quickly after having a baby, I understand that sentiment, but wouldn't a father rather stay home with his new child than go to work at that point as well?

So many of the battles feminists face around the workplace revolve around their perceived status as the primary caregiver in their family. The perception seems to be that in order to get ahead women must either give up that role to the babysitter, opt not to have children at all, or work themselves frazzled trying to balance everything. But isn't that what men have done? The man who works 80 hours a week instead of staying home with his kids is certainly sacrificing his personal life to his job, and shouldn't be expected to do it any more than a woman should. But workplace laws on family leave, for example, don't really allow the choice. Options such as telecommuting and non-traditional work hours are supposed to make balancing these lives easier; we should be encouraging men to choose them as well, and men should be taking advantage of them and then crying bloody murder if they are discriminated against because they are trying to live balanced, healthy lives instead of working 80 hours a week and leaving their spouse to "take care of the kids." (For the record, my dad had non-traditional work hours (he's a college professor), and I grew up in a "two-parent" family where both worked AND both were responsible for the kids).

There was a discussion some months back on stay-at-home-dads, and the unintended prejudices they face. Comparing the two post-lists, I am left wondering why all of us (including men) don't agitate for equality of options, and then take advantage of them.

Posted by: Carla | October 30, 2006 5:23 PM

Hmmm...seems rather estrogen-laden around here today. Perhaps with the topic Leslie selected, that is what she intended. I was somewhat motivated to pass today, but a few comments seemed worthy of at least trying to offer a slighty different viewpoint.

**Warning: longer post than was intended**

North vs. South
-------------------------------
First, the Northern bent of some posters is showing in today's posts. Those who think there are few Engineering schools in the South haven't spent too much time in the South. As with military minds, the South has turned out some the best Engineering and high tech grads. They aren't reserved for MIT and CalTech alone. But since this stereotype was brought up, I thought to offer a little sauce for the goose. I have found in my personal experience that some our supposedly enlightened Northern brethren to hold some of the most virulent (if cleverly disgused) sexist attitudes that you will ever see. They just hide them from obvious sight when famles are around. Such Northern guy attitudes I saw on display included essentially saying that if women want to be equal, then presume no further courtship rituals needed. Open your own doors, pay for your own dates, and prepare to be treated overall like guys in a locker room (including hook-ups sure we're you want to treat sex like we would like it treated.) If that is what most women truly want, then okay, I and many Southern men will be pleased to be the throwback caveman. I like to think the South still retains some chivalry and gallantry among our men in our attitudes with women. Sadly, that seems to be changing somewhat in all younger men regardless of region, but I sure intend that my son at least will be taught how to be a gentlemen and treat ladies with respect. Maybe it's a Texas thing...

The same holds true in race--I guess since they were on the right side of the civil war on race, Northerners think they have the issue covered for all time. So they look down their noses at all poor (especially minority poor), while patting themselves on the back for their superiority.

Again, these are personal experiences, and I'm drawing generalities from them, but they've been reinforced enough to show some validity. Maybe I've been blessed to know too many (or too few?) Yankees.

Glass ceiling thoughts
-----------------------------------
Since this is ever repeated and I'm not likely to break the mutually reinforcing gestalt thinking on this topic, I offer these items up, since they don't often seem to be considered the mix.

First, why do people presume a conspiracy to hold one group down? It sort of reminds me of the topic of dearth of women in science/math. Must we necessarily presume some evil force holding down what is presumably otherwise totally even numbers in every profession? Is it so impossible that genders might just have a natural preponderance or desire to participate in professions at different numbers? Must there NECESSARILY be an evil patriarchy at work keeping everything from being exactly 50/50?

Top industry people and CEOs in every field are the UNUSUAL among us, men or women. Let that sink in. Most men don't get there either, or enjoy the fruits of it. In fact, many of the discussions here range about how far any of us will or evne want to get, men or women, because we want to balance our family life with professional pursuits. Most of us in here have advocated finding flexibility for all so the range of options is as large as we can make it. But that genereally means we won't make it to the mahogany offices, because we don't care to spend 80 hour weeks there, at the expense of our families.

In most cases of the glass ceiling argument, they speak of averages, which can often be misleading. So I'll continue using them for a minute, to make a point.
I did admittedly learn something for the lawyer post that gave a timeframe for partnership decisions (7 years), placing a time scale when parity should normally occur. So maybe law is a specific problem profession area (though I remember someone a few weeks ago saying law was one of the better areas for women.) But for Fortune 500 CEOs, I ask you this: How long are such people normally (meaning on AVERAGE) in their fields before they become CEOs? 30-40 years maybe? How long have women (on AVERAGE) been in marketplace in true management track roles that lead to CEO possibilities in Fortune 500s? Hmm...seems like some of the explanation for the AVERAGE differences can be made up for right there. Just a thought...

Then, on the to other traits of powerful/successful people. They are by and large risk takers. There have been endless tomes that point out the difference in risk taking habits of men and women, in everything from financial to life choice matters. That means ON AVERAGE women might get ahead at a slower pace. That also means women on AVERAGE may face fewer failures, or spectacular blunders, or top CEO spectacular successes.

There is nothing wrong with this, or inherently less admirable. But if this is true and for some reason just absolutely needs changing, instead of bashing men and assuming the worst on a grand conspiracy to keep women down, why not counsel bright young women to take more risks in their ways up the ladder?

Because in the end the success stories that make it to the top of the charts are often the ones who risked greater potenital failure, and then won their bets against the odds. How many women are in their proverbial garages right now working out the next huge selling (hopefully not so cr@ppy) operating system that will replace Bill Gates on the Forbes wealthy list?

I hope my point about considering averages and glass ceilings allows people to see that there may be other factors than just men/society. That we should truly consider the need to search/assume prejudice because of AVERAGE results, or presume the role of tragic victims.

None of this is meant to say that stupidity, unfairness, or mendacity doesn't exist in the world. But each time someone casts away that crutch of presuming prejudice, they are forced to look harder in the mirror at their true shortcomings. That after then addressing shortcomings comes out the next time stronger and better able to succeed. Maybe the true lingering advantage of white men in society is that we don't have a crutch to blame failure on...

Just another thought exercise from the boorish Texas guy...hope it offers some balance to today's postings.

Fire away as necessary...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 30, 2006 5:37 PM

Not fair. Carla posting just before my long diatribe seemed to say many of the things I did. And she did it better! :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 30, 2006 5:47 PM

Hey Texas,
That happens to me all the time :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 30, 2006 5:50 PM

star11,

I agree with the need for "balance" in the childrearing arena as well.

Some of what I struggle with is how much is me trying to make her be something she isn't. Who am I to say she's not allowed to like Bratz dolls? How can I tell her, yes, I know your favorite color is pink, but we're not going to paint your room that color.

It smacks of trying to force her into a mold. If she wants to go to college - cool. If she wants to stay and work on the family farm - cool. All I can do is expose her to what is out there and she will make her choices.

We read every night, she does some chores, we do her homework together, the TV doesn't come on during the week, and I tell her yes, its okay for boys to wear skirts if they want to, and no, you can't have a toy every time we go to the store.

In the end, people find their way. Be it boy, girl, man, woman ... find your niche and if you're not happy with it - change it.

To a poster who was unwilling to go the legal route, I'm there with you. I was asked "Why didn't you tell us you were pregnant when we hired you?" When I got away from his task, but was later asked to rejoin - no thank you. I think if I was forced to go back there, I'd look for another job, almost anything would be preferable to working for that troglodyte again (maybe I'm slamming troglodytes, I don't know.) Another beautiful phrase "I always told women in my unit, just to get out, because their was no way they'd get back in shape again." Is it wrong of me to want to prance my skinnier than I was when I got pregnant butt in his face and show him just how wrong he is about women? I'd just be feeding some other stereotype he holds, I'm sure. I did go to HR about the pregnant comment and he was read the riot act ... but he's still here and still making comments that have no place in the work place.

To me, its not all men, its not a conspiracy. Its a few well placed men who will eventually, generationally hopefully be replaced. You/we can't force them to see a problem where they don't see one.

Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 5:58 PM

I blame it on the accident, instead of "just to get out, because their was no way they'd get back in shape", I meant "just to get out, because there was no way they'd get back in shape"

Posted by: LGB | October 30, 2006 6:02 PM

Now going back and reading the posts I missed, Rita said tings better too...guess I didn't need a contrarian after all.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 30, 2006 6:03 PM

Hey, Tx Dad of Two. I thought your post was very thoughtful. The plain fact is that there are a lot of different factors at play here -- I don't want to be managing partner at my firm, because I see how hard our current managing partner works (he's right next door to me), and I don't want that lifestyle. So I agree that averages can be misleading. I also don't see some giant male conspiracy. To subvert an old saying, "some of my best friends are men" (witness my earlier post re: women's clubs). I have been truly fortunate to have had very smart and encouraging male professors who encouraged me to push myself, and I have two tremendous male mentors at my current firm without whom I would never have made partner (including telling me straight-up some really hard things that I needed to hear). Not to mention a dad and stepdad who always believed I could be anything I wanted, and (top of the list) a husband who doesn't "help" with house and kids but who sees it as his equal responsibility.

BUT (you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you? :-) ). I also think there are still biases at play, and those biases do help discourage smart, competent women who would like to and who could succeed in the sciences, in business, whatever. A large number of posters here today have given incidents and anecdotes. Seriously, in what world is a school system telling girls to stop taking math after algebra not sexist and damaging? Or having a professor say he wouldn't have given you the fellowship if he had known you were married? I have personally posted before about a college chemistry professor who was instrumental in my decision to become an English major -- I was completely stunned and taken aback by his attitude, because I had honestly never faced that before. I've even heard my own husband, who most definitely sees me as an equal, make disparaging remarks about the women in his EE program as being there only because the college needed the numbers -- without having the slightest clue what their grades or abilities were.

I'm not saying these things small things will necessarily ruin someone's life; you face it, you deal with it one way or another, and you move on. Personally, I became a lawyer instead of a scientist, and am happy with where I ended up. But when you put barries in front of women in certain professions (business school, engineering) that men in those fields don't have to face, that IS discrimination, and it does still play SOME role in those numbers.

So I agree with you that we shouldn't look to or demand 50/50 parity to demonstrate that we have achieved equality. Personally, I define equality as when every child has an equal chance to be whatever he/she wants to be, and that success or failure is determined based on merit (yeah, utopian ideal, I know -- but it does seem a better starting point than an arbitrary number). And if that's 80% of CEOs are men, so be it. But we sure aren't even close to there yet when little girls keep hearing messages like we've heard today on this board -- and when men are similarly kept from stereotypically "female" jobs, like the story about the OB nursing student.

Posted by: Laura | October 30, 2006 6:11 PM

Fair enough, Laura...true prejudice does still exists, and it helps us all to call it out. And to save the call outs for when the prejudice is obviously real, so people will listen to them.

Babelfish, is your name a tribute to Douglas Adams?? I loved that guy. There are almost no other authors in that genre, at least that metter. It was totally unfair of that guy to go off and die young like that.

BTW, an I the only person that gets to compose posts only a little over several hours as work allows, and ends up posting things that seem so stale that you wish you could remove them after you read the intervening posts?

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 30, 2006 6:38 PM

Arrgggh!! Need a spell checker on this site!

metter = matter (above)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 30, 2006 6:40 PM

LGB -

'who am I to say. . .'

I wasn't trying to say that I would 'tell' my daughter what to like or not like but I what I was trying to say, and I realize that I didn't explicitly, is that I would like to see my husband's niece get more books and get more educational presents rather than 3 and 4 and 5 Barbies and associated gear at a time. When we are there for Christmas, she does not get one single book among her gifts - and let me tell you, it is a HUGE pile (another issue Aaron and I think there is a problem with) of clothes, dolls and assorted doll
things. . .meanwhile, she is struggling in school. If we gave her a book, she would not pick it up. We do not give her the things she already gets - this year she will be getting tap dance lessons from us.

There just isn't any balance - it is very hard for my husband and I to see her and know that there is very little that we can do and we know how hard it is if one can't even read. . .

I still stand by my one Barbie and a few other dolls and many many other
toys. . .and even though right now we take the cars to the Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed, you can be sure that will change if we have kids - and any daughter of mine will know how to change the oil! (I would have to learn, too, I guess. . .)

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 6:42 PM

"Hmmm...seems rather estrogen-laden around here today."

Well, the topic is about women and FOR women. Why shouldn't it be?

Glad you're around to set us hens straight, Tex.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 7:48 PM

I'm amazed at how many people change their own oil. At age 50, I am proud to say that I have never changed the oil myself, nor do I know how. I have no interest in anything mechanical and am glad that I am in a position to pay for car maintenance. It has nothing to do with my gender and everything to do with spending my time as I wish.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 8:37 PM

8:37:

Its not about the money or the time - its about the lesson it shows and the empowerment it gives.

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 9:01 PM

LGB, you mean there's a Bratz TV show? I've never heard of it. I have only seen the dolls in the stores.

I would never teach my kids to discredit someone just because they're pretty, but I also would never teach them to discredit someone just because they're NOT pretty. To me, the dolls project an image of shallow materialism, the idea that looks are more important than personality. I base that on not just their clothes but also on their facial expressions, which seem to have a combination of a pout and a sneer. I can easily imagine Bratz looking down on girls who aren't pretty or rich.

Posted by: Tonio | October 30, 2006 11:03 PM

"Not taking sides here, but isn't it possible that what you're hearing isn't really whining, but an attempt to share a problem, seek out alternative interpretations and perhaps even guidance on a course of action"

You are of course right, Pacifist. I was only sharing my experience as a lesson to others. It's a shame that Fo4 and Patrick hate women so much that they cannot listen to us. I feel sorry for their wives and daughters actually. Fo4 says he wants to "empower" his daughter and yet hurls epithets at women who are empowered (I am a women in a leadership position in a very well regarded profession who has won awards. I've never been called a feminazi or anything else so it's clear these people know nothing about me). It is illustritive to others coming up to know what the challenges are in the workplace and in society for women. It's a shame there are still people who don't see this and would prefer calling people names (feminazi, whiners, etc). I believe we can learn from other women, but I see some men cannot be part of the discussion. I am fortunate to have many male friends (male mentors too) who understand the challenges for smart successful women and I take my counsel from these people--not from people with hostility toward me and who are part of the problem for us.


Posted by: working mother | October 31, 2006 8:04 AM

You are not making yourself look very good on this board, working Mother. You seem angry. No substance.

Posted by: Feminist, not hostile | October 31, 2006 9:07 AM

The one full of hate is WORKING MOTHER. I bet she has a lot of grievances against men that cloud much of what she perceives. I suspect a bad divorce in there somewhere too. The idea that we can disagree with modern feminist ideology and still dearly love our wives and daughters is lost on these types of people.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 31, 2006 10:16 AM

It's never good to say that you feel sorry for someone else's child or spouse. I am a woman and I don't agree with everything you say.

Posted by: to working mother | October 31, 2006 11:20 AM

Well it's a good thing that I don't care what you all think. Just continue to make nasty comments about people who are expressing their opinion and everyone else will come to the same conclusion--that you are not highly intelligent people. Just read what you write and if you have any sense, you will see how hostile you really are. Peace.

Posted by: working mother | October 31, 2006 12:56 PM

WORKING MOTHER, based on what you just wrote, I rest my case. Peace out or whatever other "hip" thing that comes to mind.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 31, 2006 1:31 PM

I've even heard one person say that someone got an opportunity because they were tennis buddies!!! Dispicable

This happens with women too. So you do sound a little irrational. I have a friend who got her job back because she was my friend. Women do it, men do it, other ethnicities do it, etc. It's part of life and like ain't fair.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 4:11 PM

I was on the staff of my high school yearbook. At the end of each year, the teacher would decide who from the writing staff would become editors the next year. I contributed a significant chunk of the yearbook's sports articles, and they weren't about fluffy subjects like team cameraderie - one was about the strength of the football team's offensive line. My articles were well regarded by everyone who read them, including the teacher, but when it came time to choose the yearbook editorial staff, I didn't get the position as Sports Editor. Why? Quoth the teacher: "Girls can't write sports copy." Similarly, I feel that, whenever I talk sports with my brother and my dad, my opinion is seen as that of an eight year-old - uninformed, a little silly, and not worth hearing. (These men support me in every other way in life, but for some reason, there's still a huge gender divide when it comes to athletics.) I've followed sports all my life, and I can still quote batting averages from the 1991 World Series. But I haven't written a word of sports copy since, and I quit journalism altogether until becoming an art critic last year.

Posted by: Becky | November 1, 2006 8:39 AM

i remember back in 1982, i was applying to be a representative from my high school for girls' state, a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary for high school students between their junior and senior years. i went to my interview, which was conducted by representatives from the American Legion. i was there with several of my classmates. only two of us were jewish.

during my interview, a legionnaire asked me a question i would never forget: "if america and israel went to war, which side would you be on?" later, i found out he had asked this same question to the other jewish candidate. he never asked any of my other friends which side they would be on, ireland/italy/france/england/etc.

i ended up actually earning a spot as a representative for my high school. but i never forgot that question, and it bothers me to this day. how DARE this representative of the american legion question my allegiance? my father served in korea, and my eldest brother served in the air force.

but apparently, i was still not american enough, all because of my cultural heritage being different from his.

Posted by: sher | November 1, 2006 12:44 PM

Microsoft and Peter Jackson postpone the making of a film based on the Halo video game after backers pull out...

Posted by: Demarcus Polk | November 12, 2006 6:12 AM

Microsoft and Peter Jackson postpone the making of a film based on the Halo video game after backers pull out...

Posted by: Demarcus Polk | November 12, 2006 6:13 AM

I have definitely experienced sexual discrimination, both for and against me as a woman. I try to minimize both because I'd rather be seen for who I am inside and what I can contribute rather than my genitalia. I'm not one to bat my eyelashes to take advantage of people's prejudices and I stand up and speak out when I see areas that need fairness. Neither sides works for me.

For me, the discussion would center around allowing everyone to express their unique attributes. Yes, gender does color that but there are definitely women who like sports and science and there are definitely men who like cooking and being a nurturing parent. It sounds hokey maybe, but both the feminine and the masculine traits are present in each of us to varying degrees and it's time we really saw that and acknowledged it, I think.

What bugs me the most about the gender issue (and this applies to race also) is that somehow the modern idea of "non-discrimination" is not honoring, celebrating, or even noticing our actual differences. I'm ok with the idea that women might think and function differently than men. It's not an insult. As an example, for all these years the medical community has done male-only heart disease studies and are just now finding that the female heart seems to actual act/react differently rather than just being a smaller version of a man's heart. I'm talking physically here, not emotionally, although there are differences there too. Are we really better off pretending differences don't exist or is it maybe a better way to recognize and cherish and respect our diversity?

I say let's set aside our politically correct and overreaching regard for labels and conformity and explore the rich landscape that is the human being. And, in the same way you don't ask a cobbler to perform brain surgery, we can all offer our highest skills and talents where they are most appreciated.

Posted by: Vicki Flaugher | November 15, 2006 2:21 PM

Doctor Who takes three prizes at the National Television Awards in a repeat of its success last year...

Posted by: Tariq Lund | November 17, 2006 5:19 AM

Doctor Who takes three prizes at the National Television Awards in a repeat of its success last year...

Posted by: Tariq Lund | November 17, 2006 5:20 AM

Pop trio Atomic Kitten will reform to play a concert in support of jailed Liverpool football fan Michael Shields...

Posted by: Antwan Guillory | November 22, 2006 11:45 PM

Pop trio Atomic Kitten will reform to play a concert in support of jailed Liverpool football fan Michael Shields...

Posted by: Addison Osorio | November 23, 2006 6:34 AM

The first stage of a £150m investment in regional museums is praised for boosting visitor numbers...

Posted by: Tariq Toscano | November 23, 2006 1:11 PM

The Rolling Stones postpone a show in the US to allow singer Sir Mick Jagger time to rest his voice...

Posted by: Dennis Stiltner | November 24, 2006 8:07 AM

A musical about the witches from The Wizard of Oz breaks West End box office records, its producers say...

Posted by: Jasper Heinz | November 25, 2006 3:36 PM

Madonna says she may adopt another child from abroad following her proposed adoption of a Malawian boy...

Posted by: Terrance Foster | November 26, 2006 8:51 AM

Pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films, dies aged 84...

Posted by: Tanner Rosenberg | November 29, 2006 9:45 AM

Pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films, dies aged 84...

Posted by: Tanner Rosenberg | November 29, 2006 9:50 AM

Pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films, dies aged 84...

Posted by: Gavin Escamilla | November 29, 2006 5:17 PM

Pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films, dies aged 84...

Posted by: Gavin Escamilla | November 29, 2006 5:24 PM

Pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films, dies aged 84...

Posted by: Tyshawn Singer | November 30, 2006 12:04 PM

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Posted by: Joshua Mock | December 1, 2006 7:52 AM

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Posted by: Javon Douglas | December 4, 2006 3:11 AM

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are leading the way at this years MTV Europe music awards with four nominations...

Posted by: Andre Vargas | December 4, 2006 6:24 AM

London-born rapper Sway is to be honoured at the BET Hip-Hop awards in the US...

Posted by: Tyrone Romo | December 4, 2006 6:42 PM

London-born rapper Sway is to be honoured at the BET Hip-Hop awards in the US...

Posted by: Tyrone Romo | December 4, 2006 6:43 PM

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