Exerpts and comments by Woman Attitude
Woman Attitude is proud to present to you this famous book because it contains strong truths on sexism and how difficult it can be for a woman to assert herself as a leader. It also contains very controversial assertions and contradictions: Woman Attitude has highlighted them for you and offers you its perspective.
Internalizing the Revolution
Worldwide, about 4.4 million women and girls are trapped in the sex trade. […] The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are led by women; Women hold just 20% of seats in parliaments globally. […] A meager 21% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. p.5
WA’s comment: Those inequalities are unjust and inacceptable.
A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe that this would be a better world. P.7
WA’s comment: OK, but we should not make this our goal. Freedom of choice to work or stay home is worth defending.
A 2011 Mc Kinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on accomplishments. […] We compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet. p.8
WA’s comment: It is a good idea to make room for a potential partner and family. That is what WA encourages via the Choice of State of Life (Edith Stein). Plus, how do you expect bachelors to meet anyone if they focus solely on work? Plus, single people can feel extremely discriminated when their needs to spend time outside the office is not justified by a family to cater for.
The leadership ambition gap
A 2012 Pew study found for the first time that among young people ages 18 to 34 more young women 66% than young men 59% rated “success in a high-paying career or profession” as important to their lives. P16
Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. […]When a woman tries to lead she is often labeled bossy. P.17
About 41% of mothers are primary breadwinners and earn the majority of their family’s earnings. Another 23% of mothers are co-breadwinners contributing at least 25% of the family’s earning. […] The proportion of families headed by a single mother grew from 10% to 20%. p.23
WA’s comment: In total Conformity with what Woman Attitude claims: poverty and solitude for more and more women, especially at the bottom end of the ladder due partially to family decomposition (divorce rates and governments undermining parents’ authority
Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being bad mother/wife/daughter. P.24
Sit at the table
We consistently underestimate ourselves. Multiple studies in multiple industries show that women often judge their own performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance as better that it actually is. P.29
I would not suggest that anyone move beyond feeling confident into arrogance or boastfulness. P.34
Success and Likeability
Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful he is liked by both men and women. When a women is successful, people of both genders like her less. P.40
If a woman pushes to get the job done, if she’s highly competent, if she focuses on results rather than on pleasing others, she’s acting like a man. P.41
A study that looked at the starting salaries of students graduating with a Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University found that 57% of the male students, and only 7% of the female students tried to negotiate for a higher offer. P.45
I have advised many women to preface negotiations by explaining that they know that women often get paid less than men so they are going to negotiate rather than accept the original offer. P.47
WA’s comment: Good piece of advice!
It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder
The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking a time off. […] On a ladder, most climbers are stuck staring at the butt of the person above. […] It is especially comforting in a tough market where job seekers often have to accept what is available and hope that it points in a desirable direction. P.53
Then he [Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google] explained that only one criterion mattered when picking a job – fast growth. P.61
WA’s comment: This means little sleep and exceptional nerve and physical resilience… Not all of us can achieve this. Sheryl Sandberg definitely has it!
Women are also more likely to accommodate a partner’s career that the other way around. A job change that includes moving to another city may be a nonstarter for a woman in a relationship. The result is the unfortunate tautology that the tendency to stay put leads to staying put. […]An internal report at Hewlett Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100% of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60% of the requirements. P. 62
WA’s comment: Very proven among the expatriate female community
Taking risks, choosing growth, challenging ourselves and asking for promotions (with smiles on our face, of course) are all important elements of managing a career. P63
Are you my mentor?
If women try to get to the top without a sponsor’s help, their careers will often stall. We cannot assume that interactions between men and women have a sexual component. And everyone involved has to make sure to behave professionally so women – and men – feel safe in all settings. P.72
Anything that evens out the opportunities for men and women is the right practice. Some will get there by adopting a no-dinner policy [Woman Attitude adds: sexual harassment being the threat]; others will adopt a dinner-with-anyone policy. P.73.
Seek and speak the truth
When psychologists study power dynamics, they find that people in low-power positions are more hesitant to share their views and often hedge their statements when they do. P. 78
True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. They believe leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection. This shift is good news for women who often feel obliged to suppress their emotions in the workplace in an attempt to come across as more stereotypically male. And it’s also good news for men, who may be doing the exact same thing. […] And maybe the compassion and sensitivity that have historically held some women back will make them more natural leaders in the future. P. 91
Don’t leave before you leave
By the time they are in college, women are already thinking about the trade-offs they will make between professional and personal goals. P. 92
WA’s comment: And they are right to do so! Only way to stay focus on your priorities.
For some women, pregnancy does not slow them down at all, but rather to focus them and provides a firm deadline to work toward. […] Despite modern methods that can minimize the impact of biological imperatives, women still do the vast majority of child care. As a result, becoming a parent decreases workforce participation for women but not men. 44% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or ‘off-ramping’, for a period of time. P. 98
WA’s comment: Woman Attitude finds it very wise if truly chosen and supported by the partner. Off course, balancing family and work with two children is easier than with three or four…
Mothers married to the lowest-earning men struggle to find jobs that pay enough to cover child care costs which are increasingly unaffordable. […] When husbands work more than 50 hours a week wives with children are 44% more likely to quit their jobs than wives with children whose husbands work less. Of Yale alumni who had reached their forties by 2000, only 56% of the women remained in the workforce, compared with 90% of the men. P99
WA’s comment: And who will stay with the children? No point making children if it is to leave them 12h at the daycare… How about reducing one’s standard of living for a time…
If society truly valued the work of caring for children, companies and institutions would find ways to reduce these steep penalties and help parents combine career and family responsibilities. P.102
WA’s comment: Being home with off-spring is not a penalty. Plus there is a huge room for improvement in the family policies in the US.
Just as women feel that they bear the primary responsibility of caring for their children, many men feel that they bear the primary responsibility of supporting their families financially. Their self-worth is tied mainly to their professional success, and they frequently believe that they have no choice but to finish that marathon. P. 103
WA’s comment: Wait for the artificial uterus and robots to bear and raise our kids : it will solve part of your problem… Sorry for the irony but Woman Attitude supports and endorses the above statement.
Make your partner a real partner
Dave had to get up when the baby cried, bring him to me to be fed, change him, and then get him back to sleep.p.105
WA’s comment: We have witnessed many mothers getting past exhaustion with a new born. Make sure your partner gets involved, especially at night!
As women must be more empowered at work, men must be more empowered at home. I have seen so many women inadvertedly discourage their husbands from doing their share by being too controlling and critical. Social scientist call this the “maternal gatekeeping”. P. 108
WA’s comment: We truly agree! Things can be done differently than the mother’s way. A great benefit is to strengthen the bond between the father and his children and assert his authority over the family. Similarly, grandparents and godparents should have a role to play in the children’s lives, the way they want it, in a framework set by the parents in terms of discipline type and priorities- unless totally inappropriate, off course.
Like all marriages ours is a work in progress. […] We are partners not just in what we do but in who is in charge. P.111
WA’s comment: Marriage is about partnering not adding two individuals together. Moreover, to make a couple’s life work, it takes more than sharing the tasks: an Excel spreadsheet or an Outlook calendar to know who is doing what will do the job. In fact, it takes a lot of compassion, of understanding of both partners’ needs, and valuing the gift-of-self.
When fathers provide even just routine child care, children have higher levels of educational and economic achievement and lower delinquency rates. P. 113
WA’s comment: We believe it has to do with involvement and also with building a framework for the family: this is what WA calls the restoration of the father’s authority.
Raising children is at least as stressful and demanding as a paying job. Is it unfair that mothers are frequently expected to work long into the night while fathers who work outside the home get a chance to relax form their day jobs. P.118
WA’s comment: Woman Attitude calls for Stay-Home Mother Recognition.
The myth of doing it all
Quotation by Tina Fey : “The rudest question to ask a woman is ‘How do you juggle it all?’ People constantly ask me, with an accusatory loo in their eyes. ‘You’re fucking it all up, aren’t you? Their eyes say.” P. 122
We all face limits of time and patience. P124
Larry Karanek, head of the Washington DC office at Mc Kinsey, gave Mrs Sandberg, this advice: “Exert more control over you careers. McKinsey will never stop making demands on your time, so it is up to you to decide what you are willing to do.”P.126
WA’s comment: And this is so true. Setting the boundaries for yourselves!
I deeply understand the fear of appearing to be putting our families above our careers. Mothers don’t want to be perceived as less dedicated to their jobs that men or women without family responsibilities P. 129
Employees who make use of flexible work policies are often penalized and seen as less committed than their peers. [..]This all needs to change especially since new evidence suggests working from home might actually be more productive in certain cases. P.130.
A 2012 survey of employed adults showed that 80% of the respondents continued to work after leaving the office, 38% checked e-mails at the dinner table and 69% can’t go to bed without checking their inbox. P.131
WA’s comment: It is very difficult to all of us to find the right balance with cellphone and laptop usage. And we try and teach our children screen time control… Bottom line: where should I put the cursor after work? What is helpful to my work and efficient? What behavior is detrimental to my family time?
Today a “good mother” is always around and always devoted to the needs of her children. Sociologists call this “intensive mothering” and it has culturally elevated the importance of women spending large amounts of time with their children. P.135
WA’s comment: WA strongly recommends not to fall into the intensive mothering trap, even to stay-home mothers. Raising children is about teaching how to make good choices: children need space for this to happen! Let them live their lives! We need to teach mothers to get rid of their separation anxiety.
As Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project, has noted: “Show me a woman without guilt and I’ll show you a man!”P.138
Let’s start talking about IT
“I don’t see myself as a women: I see myself as a novelist/athlete/professional…” p.140
WA’s comment: Woman Attitude disagrees with this statement: women are women first, then they have a profession. Old debate about Being or Doing. (l’être et l’agir). And we are human beings, not human doings.
At Facebook I teach managers to encourage women to talk about their plans to have children and help them continue to reach for opportunities. P149
In 2012, a series of studies comparend men in more “modern” marriages (whose wives worked outside the home full-time) to men in more ‘traditional’ marriages (whose wives worked at home). The researchers wanted to determine if a man’s home arrangement affected this professional behavior. It did. Compared to men in modern marriages, men in more traditional marriages viewed the presence of women in the workforce less favorably. P. 153
WA’s comment: A shame! Even if Woman Attitude does not recommend quotas, they could help diminish this gender-bias.
Don’t be afraid to ask [ie make your work preferences and needs known to your manager – comment added by WA] P.157
WA’s comment:Woman Attitude recommends not to work and send mails after a certain hour, especially over the week ends. Working from home can be extremely efficient and dangerous. Keep your boundaries in mind! Self-control!
Working together toward Equality
For decades, we focused on giving women the choice to work outside the home. We have celebrated the fact that women have the right to make decision, and rightly so. But we have to ask ourselves if we have become so focused on supporting personal choices that we’re failing to encourage women to aspire to leadership. P159
The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. [..] in this group, women brainstormed about business. After lunches, they would all go back to their offices and tout one another’s achievements. They couldn’t brag about themselves, but they could easily do this for their colleagues. P.164
WA’s comment: Good idea!
I am fully aware that most women are not focused on changing social norms for the next generation but simply trying to get through each day. 40% of employed mothers lack sick days and vacation leave, and about 50% of employed mothers are unable to take time off to care for a sick child. p.169
WA’s comment: Same in Europe, even though much more acute a problem in the US.