Boys club

September 15, 2009 § 3 Comments

Whenever people, either in the real world or on TV, talked about the “boys club” I never really knew what they were talking about.  My mom raised me and my sister to be “strong, independent women” so I never let the fact that I am female be a hindrance to my ambitions.  When I was in Korea, my brother made the argument that men are just physically superior to women and therefore do better in the workplace out of pure endurance.  He said that no matter how much smarter a woman is, she is statistically more likely to take more sick/personal days due to her menstrual system, family, etc. and could not keep up with the top man.  I was pretty miffed at first but when you think about it, men are physically stronger than women.  The fastest man is faster than the fastest woman.  The strongest man is stronger than the strongest woman.  It seems unfair but I also think that women are far better at many things than men.  Unfortunately, those qualities are not often considered to be essential in the workplace.  Empathy and compassion are nice but in a cutthroat business environment, they also pose as potential hindrances.   

A couple days ago I read an article on “the third sex.”  It talked about how professional women are often put into a category that is neither man or woman.  In other words, physically a woman but like a man.  The woman the article picked as an example was Hilary Clinton.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  On one hand, this new category forces people to look past gender and look at one’s specific qualifications.  On the other hand, it is a bit insulting as a woman. 

I started writing about this because of my experiences in the “real world.”  At the non-profit I work at, the two other staff members are white, male lawyers who graduated from the same alma mater, albeit about twenty years apart.  Because of their similarities I am often left out of the discussion.  I don’t let instances like that affect my work but I am aware of it from a personal standpoint.  Also, most of the human rights law “experts” that we strive to work with are white males.  And I’m pretty sure ALL of the invitees to our conference are white male lawyers, academics, or government officials. 

I guess this shouldn’t be that surprising considering the makeup of our world, but it is.  Growing up in California I was always exposed to such a wide array of cultures and experiences.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a “boys club.”  Not that I’m going to let that hinder me… but I think it is prudent to realize the pre-existing structures around me.  I’m not so much of an idealist to think that one day everyone will be equally valued and accepted in all societies.  However, I do know that new and amazing, bright people are breaking barriers every day.  I can only hope that I will one day join their ranks and in doing so, create a club of my own that is devoid of barriers due to color and sex.

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§ 3 Responses to Boys club

  • Caroline says:

    Well.. That was quite interesting.. I for one will sound like an opposite of a feminist, but.. here goes my rambling thoughts.. Women are different. It’s a men’s world out there and we’re just living in it. Done. I guess it’s all subjective. I’m not out there to compete, I’m just out to have a simple, enjoyable life. Wait, did anything I said make sense? I didn’t think so.sfkdaj.e.

  • A says:

    If you search for discrimination, you’ll find it in spades. In addition to gender — there’s race, there’s appearance (fat/hot/not), there’s age, there’s height, alma-mater, and more. Given so many possibilities to slice and dice, I believe it is rather difficult for those that discriminate to keep their book-keeping straight.

    The part about men having inherent advantages is rather questionable. Testosteronic strength is rather unnecessary, and quite often negatively correlated with intelligence (think jocks/construction-workers attempting math). Women are actually biologically stronger and have longer lives than men. Women get emotionally mature way faster than men. Women don’t spend a huge proportion of their time and energy chasing opportunities for sex. Those are all pretty significant inherent advantages on the other side.

    In a highly specialized-skills-based economic system, what matters more is that which unifies us as human beings — our intelligence, work ethic, manners, tact, perseverance, and many other qualities that no race/gender/age/height/etc. has a monopoly on.

    This sort of segues into issues of identity. If you believe that being a woman is tied to “empathy and compassion” (I question that but that’s besides the point), *and* if you identify yourself as a woman above any other way, then you are likely to magnify those qualities in yourself likely at the expense of other qualities that you attribute to the counter-identity. That can form a vicious cycle that could lead to discrimination “you have too much of characteristic X” “of course, i do, i am an identity Y”.

    That leads us back to discrimination. Often once the perception of discrimination sets in, one gets desensitized to constructive or other environmental feedback.

    I personally found it very useful to abandon all narrow options I had for identity — esp. nationality and gender — and instead think of myself as a human being capable of reason, thought and deliberate action.

    Anyways, I am not really disagreeing with your specific situation, but more voicing thoughts I have developed in a broader context. For your specific situation, I feel you need to get out of the non-profit and find a better situation. Senseless discrimination puts companies at a disadvantage, and in a competitive for-profit environment, such companies go out of business quickly, leaving a much healthier environment.

    As a side note, part of the reason I love Miyazaki movies is because of his portrayal of strong, independent women.

  • L says:

    Hey your mom raised you and your sister to be strong independent women? What world were you living in?

    I think you got that from me, not your mom. LOL If your mother had her way we would both be very feminine, passive young women married to rich successful men and working in philanthropy because we choose to, not because we have to.

    Anyway, get used to discrimination in the workplace. Men are preferred and white men are like the cream of the crop (in white America) but don’t let it bother you. You’re just going to have to take the stereotypes in your way and use them to your advantage.

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