I once worked with a woman who brought up what I felt was a valid complaint, in that she felt that she was at an unfair disadvantage in sales, because she felt that a man I equally knew had an unfair advantage in entertaining clientele at strip clubs, and apparently writing it off as a business expense. I don’t recall how that was resolved, presumably strip clubs were no longer an acceptable form of sales expense, would be my guess. I likewise thought the practise was dubious in tackiness and tastelessness, but I didn’t work in sales. If that’s how sales were done, than I didn’t really have anything business wise to say about it one way or another.
I could write about a whole host of angles just from that first paragraph. One, the age old adage that sex sells seemed to hold true, if that form of client entertainment was really working. In this regard, it puts men at a disadvantage, as they aren’t already in possession of the type of sex that sells, whereas among the many other powers that women possess, they alone possess the type of sex that has been proven to sell, and sell quite well, I gather. It’s a silly analogy, but I don’t think it’s an invalid one. There is probably a reason that attractive people tend to also be good at sales. I am unaware of any social justice campaign to increase the diversity of unattractive people in sales, but in a truly egalitarian society, it would seem one is needed. I notice that most of the landscapers in this area are Hispanic immigrants. I also am unaware of any social justice campaign to increase the diversity in the landscaping business. There is so much social justice to be done, if we are going to see this diversity thing all the way through.
Another angle could be what a woman in tech relayed to me recently, that during her undergraduate studies, she had never been invited along when her male contemporaries got together, and she felt left out because of her gender. There’s no way I can really address that, I don’t want to make light of the rejection that sounds like it caused her to feel.
I haven’t really sorted out what sound like some dimwitted comments a professor made at a conference hosted by a group of women scientists he was invited to speak at. There is one thing I thought I heard or read, but haven’t found it yet, so can’t highlight it here yet, but it sounded to me like he either had been specifically asked to make some comments on women in science, or at least he was invited to speak at the conference by the group of women scientists. There is a big difference if he was literally asked to speak on that specific topic or not, but either way. I’m not defending what he said, but I do think there is an uncomfortable lesson in the backlash he received, especially if it turns out he was asked to speak specifically to that topic.
Unwittingly, the social media mob has reinforced the notion that you have to watch what you say around women. When I hear the hurt in that lady’s words at being excluded from participating with her male counterparts informal get-togethers, it doesn’t cause me any great joy to look at this example, and say, well, there you go. Maybe there is a reason men don’t feel comfortable talking off the cuff around women. It’s harsh, but it’s something I’ve noticed at family get togethers many times. After the initial sit down and eat part of the gatheriing, usually the men and women retire to different rooms to talk separately. I don’t offer an explanation here, I’m just stating an observation I’ve seen several times.
Now, I don’t talk publicly often about my work. One of those reasons is I’d like to be free to speak my mind without having a social media mob hunt me down and destroy my career because of some opinion, or off the cuff remark I made online. I’ve made a lot of them, and many of them I now regret, whereas others I stand by, in spite of how completely against the grain they are. But i will say this, and those who know me through more private media sites will probably know this about me. I work in an industry that seems to be primarily made up of women. That might be that I just have a small window, but the business I work for is primarily women. Anybody who has read what I have written online about them knows that I hold them in high regard, both professionally and personally. The reason I keep those kinds of posts private, is because I do occasionally make remarks that might not be well received in public, specifically by women. The one thing I have commented on before, numerous times, is that while I find the women to be pretty stoic overall, on a few occasions I have seen them cry. It’s not something I hold against them, or anything like that. I think that they care very deeply about their work, and, well, I won’t speculate on that, other than to say it does affect me with sympathy when I see these hard working ladies fighting back tears. It’s only happened on a small number of occasions, but it does happen, and since I’d never worked around an (almost) all women staff before, it was unusual to me. None of this is to be taken as defense of this professor’s comments, but it does, on its own, sort of lend credence to the point he was trying to make, however boorishly.
Let me summarize that last sentence more succinctly: I’ve seen some of the women I work for cry before, and it did not diminish my respect for them.
As for working in separate labs, and whatever other comments this guy might’ve made, well, I don’t really think that’s necessary, myself. But I have seen cases where a man would present a distraction in a room full of professional women.
Human behaviour can be modified to some extent, but I don’t think that human nature can be, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln.