What Holds Women Back? Other Women

It’s truly unfortunate when any woman who identifies herself as a feminist tries to validate negative stereotypes about women.   Self-professed feminist (I don’t believe she understands what the word means) Clarissa (her last name is not listed on her blog) posted a scathing blog by a guest blogger who appears to be unnamed, denouncing women from any future employment at her company. The title of her post? “I Don’t Want To Hire Women.” It’s obvious that she has not read the slue of reports citing that companies with multiple women in their top leadership positions outperform companies with no women in every single criterion…. but let’s just humor her for a quick second.

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In the blog post she says,  “Over the years, I have hired outstanding women — educated, intelligent and highly articulate. Yet, I am exhausted. I have become profoundly tired of being a therapist and a babysitter, of being drawn into passive-aggressive mental games and into constantly questioning my own worth as a manager. I have had several women who quit to stay home to “figure out what to do next”. No, not to stay home and care for children, but to mooch of a husband or a boyfriend while soul searching (aka: taking a language class or learning a new inapplicable skill that could be acquired after work). Incidentally, I have not had a single male employee quit with no plan in mind.”

Reading this paragraph, I don’t know where to begin, the blatant sexism, lack of emotional intelligence or obvious misogyny. The author makes an extremely weak and unintelligible case for suggesting that women are essentially unemployable due to the fact that they may get emotional, passive-aggressive and occasionally gossip.   Hmmm…really?   You mean men never get passive-aggressive? Have gossiped or gotten emotional. What planet does this woman live on? The author seems to value masculine characteristics and is judging the women in her company by those characteristics. Now, if women were emotionally distant and unapologetically egotistical (2 qualities we assign to men) she may appreciate them better. She is wrong to assume emotional distance equals professionalism.

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The sexism in this article is incredible. I truly could not have summed up the problems in this article better than playwright Lauren Gunderson who said,   “We excuse men for being overtly sexual with women, with being aggressive to a fault, with acting only for value and not for community, with abandoning their families for work. But we don't excuse women for having emotions, having babies, being harmonizers instead of bullies, being pretty, being not pretty, having sexuality.”

Now if you were to replace the word women in her blog with blacks, gays, men, transgendered, brown folk, I don’t know frogs? It would sound just as stupid. I implore you to try it. It makes little sense when any person uses a blanket statement to judge an entire group or assume that one characteristic in one person applies to all. I believe history has taught us not to judge others based on our prejudice and lack of understanding about how to deal with them. I’m sure I don’t even have to name people who might have persecuted others based on how they judged them; you can easily bring them to mind.

 

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The second comment that really made no sense to me was, “I have developed a different approach for offering constructive criticism to male and female employees. When I have something to say to one of the men, I just say it! I don’t think it through — I simply spit it out, we have a brief discussion and we move on. They even frequently thank me for the feedback! Not so fast with my female staff. I plan, I prepare, I think, I run it through my business partner and then I think again.”

Giving constructive criticism to anyone should be a unique approach, every single person is different and making this a gender specific issue again speaks to lack of leadership skills.   In essence, this blog does more to highlights Clarissa’s poor hiring ability and management skills than it does to make the case for not hiring women. Bad employees are bad employees; this is not a gender specific. A true leader takes ultimate responsibly of what happens in her company. Allowing a space for constant personal dialogue is a positive thing because it says you are human, that you care about people. The old days of fear-based leadership are done. No one wants to run or work for a company that muffles them. How much personal dialogue you allow, is a leadership issue. If you cannot control the ratio of work to personal talk you really don’t know what you’re doing.   Also, it was never mentioned what kind of hiring or company Carissa has, are we talking small business like a yogurt shop where you’re hiring teenagers who want to talk about their boyfriends all day or women in corporate culture? If the need for your business is to hire teenagers, we are not having the same conversation. Are we?

 

 

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The big point Clarissa seems to be missing is that she failed as a leader. Her finger pointing seems like she needed a scapegoat for her shortcomings. If she had truly wanted a successful company she would have understood that women drive 85% of purchasing in the household, the data supports that women are an incredible ROI in business and the most obvious, they are over half the world’s population. She sounds more like a misogynist than a feminist and its people like her that stall the progress of all women.

This is Carissa's Blog in it's entirety.

"Yes, I said it. You cringed when you read it and I cringed when I wrote it, and even more so when the thought first occurred to me. I am a woman, a feminist, a mother, and a passionate entrepreneur. I don’t just stand for equality — I have crashed the glass ceiling in every aspect of my life. I get extremely  angry when I come across articles that insist there are  gender differences that extend beyond physiology. I am fortunate to have had female role models who taught me through their own examples that I can accomplish absolutely anything I desire.

Over the years, I have hired outstanding women — educated, intelligent and highly articulate. Yet, I am exhausted. I have become profoundly tired of being a therapist and a babysitter, of being drawn into passive-aggressive mental games and into constantly questioning my own worth as a manager. I have had several women who quit to stay home to “figure out what to do next”. No, not to stay home and care for children, but to mooch of a husband or a boyfriend while soul searching (aka: taking a language class or learning a new inapplicable skill that could be acquired after work). Incidentally, I have not had a single male employee quit with no plan in mind.

I have had women cry in team meetings, come to my office to ask me if I still like them and create melodrama over the side of the office their desk was being placed. I am simply incapable of verbalizing enough appreciation to female employees to satiate their need for it for at least a week’s worth of work. Here is one example to explain. My receptionist was resigning and, while in tears, she told me that although she was passionate about our brand and loved the job, she could not overcome the fact that I did not thank her for her work. It really made me stop in my tracks and so I asked for an example. “Remember when I bought the pictures with butterflies to hang in the front? And you just came and said ‘thank you’? That is a perfect example!” — “Wait”, I said, “So, I did thank you then?” — “Yes! But you did not elaborate on what exactly you liked about them! Why didn’t you?” She had bought them with the company credit card and I actually did not like them at all, but I digress.

I have developed a different approach for offering constructive criticism to male and female employees. When I have something to say to one of the men, I just say it! I don’t think it through — I simply spit it out, we have a brief discussion and we move on. They even frequently thank me for the feedback! Not so fast with my female staff. I plan, I prepare, I think, I run it through my business partner and then I think again. I start with a lot of positive feedback before I feel that I have cushioned my one small negative comment sufficiently, yet it is rarely enough. We talk forever, dissect every little piece of it, and then come back to the topic time and time again in the future. And I also have to confirm that I still like them — again and again, and again.

I am also yet to have a single male employee come to my office to give me dirt on a co-worker or share an awkward gossip-like story. My female employees though? Every. single. one.

When I opened my company, I was excited for many reasons. One of them was wanting to make it an amazing place for women to build their careers. After all, we were two women, both mothers with very small children, opening a company in a very competitive industry. I was going to celebrate the achievements of my female hires, encourage them to find their voices, celebrate their pregnancies and year-long maternity leaves, be understanding and accommodating when they would have to juggle work/daycare/school schedules. Yet, I had no idea that the problems women faced in their workplace were often far removed from the typical inequalities feminism continues to address. It is not men who sabotage women and stump their career growth — it is women themselves!

What is at the root of the problem? Lack of confidence? Wrong upbringing? What am I not seeing? Is there something else I should be doing as a manager? I welcome your comments, as I secretly continue placing the resumes of female applicants into the “call later” folder.

The post was written by a guest blogger but the veracity of every aspect of the story has been verified by Blogger Clarissa."