There is a neat documentary out that studies the phenomenon of girl-on-girl bullying. A movement developed around the documentary called The Kind Campaign, furthering the shocking concept that maybe girls (and women) could be kind rather than horrible to each other. Unfortunately, when you hear about girls fighting each other or girls bullying each other, society often takes it to the gutter and well…I need not say more. Suffice to say, it’s not taken very seriously sometimes.
All of this goes through my mind as I read posts and articles detailing how there aren’t as many female CEOs or female “social media mavens” because women just plain aren’t mean enough to win the game (whatever that game might be). I’ve read posts that explain, in a seemingly knowledgeable way, that women aren’t as good at self-promoting because they aren’t as self-centered as men are (once again insulting men and women at the same time, it seems to me). Women aren’t shallow enough to care about something as trivial as success. Women are too nice and loving to worry about those cold worky type things.
Are you getting a little throw-up into your mouth there? Regardless of your gender? Yeah. I sympathize.
Let’s take these point-by-point, shall we? Oh, get some Tums first if you need it. OK, good.
Women aren’t mean enough to win the game
First of all, what does it say about our society that we accept, without argument, that the meanest people are the ones who come out on top? Is that really REALLY true? Is it only possible to land on the top of the pecking order if you stomp everyone else down? Surely there have to be at least a few powerful people out there who won their success by, say, earning it. Maybe there are even people out there who became successful because they *helped* people.
Also, I’m not really sure that it’s fair to men or women to say that women aren’t mean enough. I’m all for equality, but let’s be honest hear. There are PLENTY of cut-throat women out there. Like woah. There are women who will cut down anyone in their way just to get more power or publicity. There are women who are more than happy to sell their soul to the devil to get to the top. And there are plenty of men who aren’t mean who I’m sure would like to enjoy a modicum of success. In short, this argument appears to be pretty stupid to me.
Women aren’t as self-centered as men and thus don’t like to promote themselves
I know plenty of men who are actually so much the opposite of self-centered that I wish, truly, that they would think more about themselves, for their own sakes. I also know plenty of women who start the majority of their sentences with I, me, or my. On chats like Blogchat in Twitter world, just as many women as men use the hashtag to promote their own (sometimes completely unrelated) blog posts. On Facebook, I’ve seen status updates from both men and women that begin with something like, “Look how awesome I am!” And they aren’t even joking when they say it.
I would also posit that promoting oneself is not the same thing as being self-centered. One can promote him or herself while maintaining a good grasp on the fact that the earth, not the individual, is the center of the universe (some light historical humor for those who have gotten this far). Women can promote themselves, as men can, and can also refrain from becoming obnoxious. I’ve witnessed it. It’s possible.
So, again, I find this argument about why there aren’t more female leaders to be radically dumb.
Women aren’t shallow enough to care about success
This argument always confuses me. Since when was finding success in life and work shallow? Since when was hoping to benefit from hard work trivial? I don’t think men or women who strive for success should be categorized as shallow. Now, there’s a caveat here. If “success” is all you care about, you might have some problems. If success to you is just the collection of fancy material goods that you don’t really need, you might run into some problems. However, these afflictions I think are experienced equally by both men and women.
Women are too loving to care about cold worky-type things
The image of the soft, warm, loving wife and mother who is only interested in making the home as comfortable as possible is 100% fine. I think a lot of women (like me) have lost a lot of the art that goes into those skills, and I think that’s sad. That being said, “worky-type things” are not beyond the reach of most women. Women, by nature, are not little cubes of sugar that will melt in the heat of a professional environment.
Also, I know plenty of women who use the feminine qualities (as defined by society) of being kind and affection to further their work. I think of women like Lisa Petrilli and Molly Cantrell-Kraig who use their big hearts to infuse their businesses and their work with a great energy. I know men who do the same thing, by the way.
So what’s the problem, then?
We’re still left with one last question. If none of these commonly cited arguments for why there aren’t more women leaders have been consigned to the abyss, why AREN’T there more women in CEO roles? Why aren’t there more women classified on the social media a-list?
Well that’s the rub, isn’t it?
However, ending the issue with a simple, “They just aren’t mean enough” doesn’t fit the bill for me. Does it work for you?
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/6080628851 via Creative Commons