Another day, another lecture on “leaning in.” This time the alpha pair that are women-shaming are Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. They are over here from the US to tell us women to stop “running around in circles with negative thoughts.” It is holding us back in the workplace, you see. We are simply not confident enough to push ourselves forward, or lean in or whatever the latest parlance is. So ladies stop worrying, stop the self-criticism and push on into those all import executive level positions.
Their new book The Confidence Code (at £18.99 – something tells me these ladies are not that short of confidence) examines why women might lack confidence and what we can do to tackle this shameful, shameful position. This is important because although “women outnumber men when it comes to higher education, they make up half the workforce and they are closing the gap in middle management”, “men are still promoted faster and they earn more. Women remain woefully under-represented at executive level.” Crucially, “according to Kay and Shipman, the reason for a lot of this is women’s lack of self-confidence.”
We will ignore for now the fact that you could reverse an articulated truck through that phrase ‘a lot’; it lacks precision to say the least. But given that the entire book is premised on the basis that the reason why women are under-represented at executive level positions has ‘a lot’ to do with women’s lack of self-confidence, one would expect this huge assumption to come under some scrutiny – not so.
Now, I am willing to accept that some women lack confidence to such an extent that it may hold them back in the workforce. But the key reason I believe women are not filling executive level positions is because – now you might want to sit down – they choose a different path in life. A path that involves doing something other than work. Many women value time with family, friends and community and are not willing to put in the hours it takes to ‘get to the top’ of the their professions. The professions, people, employment, not life. Because women view life as encompassing more than just work. Why is this constantly ignored by the great and the good?
Quick sidestep. It is interesting how the entire mainstream media like to focus on how women are ‘under-represented at executive level positions.’ Do you know where else women are under-represented – in the prison population and as victims of crime. And in the suicide statistics, and the homelessness statistics, and early death statistics. But you will be waiting a long time, a long time, my friends, before you see the feminists campaigning for more equal representation among those groups.
Anyway, back to our leaner-iners. They look at some of the biological reasons why women may ‘lack confidence; and instead think things through a little more. One is the hormonal driver oestrogen.” This evil hormone supports “part of the brain involved in social skills and observations, oestrogen seems to encourage bonding and connection while discouraging conflict and risk-taking — tendencies that might well hinder confidence in some contexts.”
It is true. We simply cannot have women focussing more on bonding and connecting. That would be awful. What with all that nurturing and loving, some women might want some balance in their lives and opt not for that promotion that will keep them in the office twelve hours a day, but instead go part-time so they can spend some more time with their children. No, we cannot have that. If only someone invented a pill we could all take that would suppress this evil hormone that as well as promoting bonding also supports pregnancies, labour and breastfeeding newborn infants. Oh no, hang on…
But there is a deeper conflict here for the alpha women. On the one hand we are told risk taking and being over confident like a man is what we want more women to be. In other words – they want to shame us for our feminine traits of bonding and nurturing. But on the other hand we are told that we need more women in executive positions because the feminine traits of being more cautious and taking less risks will improve business and banking etc. The great financial crash would not have happened if all that testosterone was not awash on the trading floor pumping ever-greater amounts of money into complex derivative thingys. Today, it seems, we want more risk taking only this time from women (with or without their oestrogen. I don’t know I am getting confused). Feminist friends – you cannot have it both ways!
So there we have it ladies. Shame on you for your worry, your bonding and connecting. Sever those ties and start taking more risks. Your position in the boardroom depends on it.