Cheryl offers: I consider myself a pretty savvy business woman. I’ve read a lot of books, have an EMBA from SMU, had a great career at IBM, on and on. I have lots of reasons to tell myself so. And yet, with all the information I’ve read and know about women in the workplace, I find myself committing some of the very behaviors I advocate women release to make themselves more powerful. Take yesterday for example. I am in downtown Dallas at a busy street corner during lunch. As I approach the corner and start to cross the street, a young man approaches from a different direction and wants to cross to a different corner than I do. We do the imaginary “dance” of positioning to sort out our intentions without really speaking. As we “dance” he says “Excuse me” and I respond with “I’m sorry,” Whoa! I realize a few seconds later I’ve just committed one of those behaviors Gail Evans warns all women about in her book Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. Evans claims women’s apologizing with “I’m sorry” is a “female addiction”; that sorry is a sorry word for us to use. Women need to drop all the apologies because in a business environment, a man hearing them infers a mistake has been made and it’s the woman’s because she apologized. This is one of those subtle ways we undermine our power and future opportunities. I’m beginning to think she’s right and I’m working on retraining my brain and tongue. Oh, I’m sorry, did I offend anyone?
Tomorrow, the Creative Communication Network is sponsoring an event with two of our blogging partners, Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith (CandS Knowledge Company). We are calling it: Take Your Brain to Lunch. I will present synopses of two books that are both important and useful for women in business: Women Don’t Ask and Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know about Success that Women Need to Learn. (I presented both of these in earlier years of the First Friday Book Synopsis). Sara and Cheryl, and a team of women, will lead facilitated discussions at the tables after each of the two presentations.
The timing could not be better. The latest figures show that the number of women currently working is nearly exactly even with the number of men. The gap has been shrinking for years, and now, in this “mancession,” it is just about erased entirely.
Earlier this year, we learned that among college graduates, women now outnumber the men in undergraduate and graduate and professional degrees awarded. In other words, in every major educational category, more women than men are earning degrees. (Check out this article for some of the details).
I first read about the “mancession” on the Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan’s blog), which linked to this enlightening post by Catherine Rampell. Here’s an excerpt:
We’ve pointed out before that the recession has disproportionately hurt men, who are more likely to work in cyclically sensitive industries like manufacturing and construction. Women, on the other hand, are overrepresented in more downturn-resistant sectors like education and health care.
Casey B. Mulligan noted, for example, that for the first time in American history women are coming close to representing the majority of the national work force. It would of course be a bittersweet milestone, given that it comes primarily as a result of men’s layoffs.
The article has additional graphs which illustrate the toll the recession is taking on male workers.
Even without the recession, the number of women receiving college and graduate degrees, and then rising up the ladder in the work force, is increasing every year. So, it is certainly time to pay attention to the insight, the wisdom, the literature focused on women and business issues.
I’m glad to participate in a group giving attention to the ever increasing reality of women in business.