Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"That's what she said" a book worth reading.

First learned about Joanne and her new book from her appearance with Fareed Zakaria.

The title comes from remarks overheard at a business meeting.  A male was given credit for something that had first been brought up by a female.  This all too common scenario is one of the events that inspired Joanne to write the book.

Joanne very early on explains this book is not about man shaming.  She recognizes gender equality will never be truly reached without the involvement of men. Fortunately many men are helping.  Women are also a part of the problem as they have too many unconscious notions of women's role.

Many women think the way to succeed in a man's world is to adopt male interests such as sports, dirty jokes, etc.  Sometimes it works, but other times they are thought of as unfeminine.  Asserting authority, even when they have it has a higher price than suffered by males.

Boys are raised to be competitive while girls are taught to be co-operative and deferential.

One critical, but contested fact is that diversity boosts productivity.  Our country has been run by white men and even now it is hard to break the mould.  Companies in different fields have found their profits increased as women more involved in decisions.

An early example was Tupperware.  It was invented by Earl Tupper, but he didn't really appreciate that his principle audience found it difficult to understand.  Brownie Wise had her efforts to achieve management level after being the top sales person were rejected.  She convinced Tupper to go the house party route and it turned the product around.

Diversity training has become more common, but Joanne found that it is relatively ineffective and often counter-productive.  Unconscious bias awareness seems to be more effective.  Google was an early pioneer as they were concerned that they were not hiring or retaining women to levels they thought would be beneficial.  Everyone is at least a bit sexist and a bit racist among other inapropriate thoughts.  Another blog that discusses the critical role of the subconscious is:

Deutch Bank became concerned that they were losing too many women to their competition.  They learned that the women were reluctant to ask for promotions and raises and assumed they were in a dead end situation.  After this was discovered more women were offered promotions.

Respect is a key concept.  Women are more interrupted than men, even at the Supreme Court level.  One example is that male doctors receive more respect than females and conversely male nurses are not as respected.  Transgender studies have demonstrated that transgender males gain respect than they received as females.  Transgender females lose respect after their transition.  

Speaking up is key.  Some companies encourage their staff (male and female) to point out bias even to the boss.

In the 2016 American presidential election Donald Trump expressed his anger loudly and gained respect, but Hilary Clinton was criticized for "shrillness."  Although there were a myriad of factors undoubtedly for many voters a female candidate didn't command enough respect.  During his administration Obama tried in many ways to close the gender gap, but Trump has rolled back many of the efforts.

Blind auditions for musicians gave women more orchestra and band positions  It has been extended to fields where talent could be evaluated without identifying a person.

Maternity and paternity policies are common in much of the world, except very limited in the United States.  Some companies are realizing to retain women long term they have to develop policies that acknowledge women will be concerned about child rearing.  One suggestion was to give them projects that would keep them in the loop.  Eventually their children grow up and they are free to  apply their talents.

Mentoring has always been an effective way to nurture and develop new employees, but early efforts to bring senior males with junior females had lots of problems.  One solution at the social level has been to include spouses and even children. 

She concludes her book by admitting that women are still living in a man's world, but that each day more men reach across the gender divide.  There were thousands of men in the Women's March, the day after the 2017 inauguration.  Men and women evolved to survive in a dangerous world, but as conditions change we need to develop new understandings and new habits to cope with new dangers and new opportunities.  Lots of suggestions are provided.

A bit more about Joanne:

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