Gini Dietrich

Achieving Workplace Equality

By: Gini Dietrich | August 15, 2011 | 
223

Last week Sean McGinnis sent Margie Clayman and me an old blog post (old meaning 18 months old) that Clay Shirky wrote.

Without even clicking on the link, I knew “A Rant About Women” was going to make me mad.

I read half of the post before I got really angry. Then, in disgust, I closed it and didn’t go back to it.

But it kept nagging at me. So I gave it a second shot. And then a third and fourth. And then I read some of the 511 comments.

And, in typical Gini fashion, I won’t be able to let it go until I write about it. 

A Rant About Women

The premise of Shirky’s blog post is that women are not self-promotional, which holds us back. He quotes a magazine editor who tells a friend of his that men promote themselves all the time, but women wait for people to take notice.

I suppose that’s true. I know I’m guilty of it…having been raised to believe that if you work hard, eventually people will notice.

He goes on to say that, in order for us to be treated equally, we must be forceful and self-confident. He says:

It’s tempting to imagine that women could be forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky, but that’s a false hope, because it’s other people who get to decide when they think you’re a jerk, and trying to stay under that threshold means giving those people veto power over your actions.

And therein lies the problem. When we act like men, we’re seen as as the word that begins with a B…you know, another name for a female dog.

The Glass Ceiling

But even if we acted like men, had the self-confidence to be called mean names, and were forceful and self-promotional, there still is a glass ceiling.

I’ve written about how I had to create a fake personality for Charles Arment, my “business partner,” who doesn’t exist, in oder to do business in the early stages of Arment Dietrich.

Charles was a great partner. He gave me negotiation power. Prospects took me seriously. And he didn’t exist.

I’ve always figured if you can’t fight the battle, join them…and then have the last laugh. I beat the glass ceiling with my own Remington Steele.

Why Can’t We Just Be Women?

One of the commenters, Laurence, said:

I just say that the male assertiveness/self-belief that Clay espouses has been running the planet for the last five (or so) milllenia, and look what a f* up job we have done. And we want women to learn how to behave like us? Pleeeease.

I don’t know that I necessarily agree that men have screwed everything up, but I don’t think we need to learn how to behave like men, anymore than men need to learn how to behave like us.

Each gender has strengths and each has weaknesses. Why not let us just be women, without trying to be men, and let each gender enhance the others’ strengths? I’m willing to admit men are better at some things…just like we’re better at others.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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223 Comments on "Achieving Workplace Equality"

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KnealeMann
4 years 11 months ago

What a shame we are still talking about this in 2010. I have a close friend who was railing on me last week for the wrong doings of the male portion of the human race. I had to explain that it wasn’t my fault for million of years of (d)evolution. Men who are forceful are deemed ambitious while women who are same are – insert insult here? We men should ashamed of ourselves. However, self-promoters who do it endlessly are annoying no matter their gender.

SoloBizCoach
SoloBizCoach
4 years 11 months ago

Great article Gini. I think that women need to be confident, but I think they have to act like men. The best women bosses that I have had have been confident, but relied on their natural strengths, not fake assertiveness.

One woman comes to mind in particular. She was an absolute people person. She made me feel important and needed. She certainly was assertive, but she was a great leader.

KenMueller
4 years 11 months ago

This is an issue that burns me up. I even wrote a response post to Shirky as as guest post on a friend’s blog. (http://www.onewomanmarketing.com/devil-woman ) it irked me so much. Just be yourself and work hard, regardless of your gender.

KenMueller
4 years 11 months ago

and I’ll add, that the best boss I’ve ever had was a woman. On the other hand, the worst boss I ever had was also a woman, and I would have to say that a part of why she sucked is that she was “the bitch”, the self-promotional control freak. Over the years I’ve worked for more women than men, and they ran the gamut from great to lousy, regardless.

Ameena Falchetto
Ameena Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

Why should women act like men? Confidence, ability and competence are not exclusively masculine traits. A successful woman doesn’t have to be an androgynous person who relinquishes her femininity in order to be taken seriously and succeed. I personally feel that asserting your femininity and demanding to be respected and taken seriously will take you a lot further a lot of men. If need be, slap some extra mascara on, batt those eyelashes and watch the, ahem, “stronger” sex become distracted. End of.

Ameena Falchetto
Ameena Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

@SoloBizCoach How can a woman act like a man? Why should they? Should a man, in a typically female profession act like a woman? Wouldn’t that be creepy? What’s wrong with being true to yourself?

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago

Not only “why can’t we just be women,” but “why can’t we just be the women we ARE,” instead of trying to be other women. My $0.02. FWIW.

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago

Not only “why can’t we just be women,” but “why can’t we just be the women we ARE,” instead of trying to be other women. My $0.02. FWIW.

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago

Not only “why can’t we just be women,” but “why can’t we just be the women we ARE,” instead of trying to be other women. My $0.02. FWIW.

John Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

Why are we dividing personalities by gender? or race? or religion?

Imagine for one minute if someone wrote a post titled A rant about Africa-Americans, or a rant about Jews? Seriously.

John Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

@Shonali For Wine I Will. These are copyrighted to Davina 🙂

John Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

@Shonali For Wine I Will. These are copyrighted to Davina 🙂

NoobieGrewUp__
NoobieGrewUp__
4 years 11 months ago

@JessicaNorthey @ginidietrich

1doctrno
1doctrno
4 years 11 months ago

@JessicaNorthey @ginidietrich Get me some coffee,,cream,,& lets talk about it..

1doctrno
1doctrno
4 years 11 months ago

@JessicaNorthey @ginidietrich Have A Little Bitty Dance should Be a Hot Hit!! http://t.co/BDpYRPj Make A New discovery

fitzternet
4 years 11 months ago

“When we act like men, we’re seen as as the word that begins with a B…you know, another name for a female dog.”

Uh… Shirky admits to lying to get what he wants and he calls men arrogant “self-aggrandizing jerks,” “self-promoting narcissists,” anti-social obsessives, and “pompous blowhards.”

There’s a word for that. Starts with a “D,” ends with a “bag.” I’m sorry, but Shirky is assuming all guys are snake oil salesman and women need to be too. Fail.

fitzternet
4 years 11 months ago

@SoloBizCoach I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that women are not confident by nature and if they display confidence and assertiveness they are acting like men. Some women are more confident than others, same goes for men.

Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt – four very different people, all very successful. Is Trump the manliest because he’s a blowhard? Is Cuban sort of a man because he played rugby in college and can be loud and aggressive?

I guess what I’m saying is, where do the generalizations end?

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago

@John Falchetto Ha!

NancyD68
4 years 11 months ago
Oh boy – here I go….I have worked with some men who prefer me to just be pretty and not say anything. “We want your feedback” has come to mean “we want your feedback only if it is positive” I realize that it is not an issue of me being a woman, but rather of me being the wrong woman to work with these particular men. I have been asked my opinion on issues and answer in a confident manner to find out that not only do they not want my opinion, they only ask as a courtesy. I find… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago
Clay is wrong. It is chauvinist men. It is the baby thing. I have heard men with less game that women discussing in private whether or not to hire a woman who might leave to have a child. Whether to promote them. Give them raises. This is from my years working for Industrial Parts Businesses. Their reasoning sadly is based on partial fact. Older men who have been around for years will say very simply – ‘They all say they are coming back after they have the kid. Most do not’ To me this is a load of crap if… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@NancyD68 men can really suck.If you could prove harrassment Nancy you can make bank!

BTW what is Mad Men?

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@John Falchetto you have a point, The post is about gender equality. And it is a serious work place issue in the US. But the title misrepresented because it did not include all the other forms of inequality.

NancyD68
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM Mad Men is a TV show about ad men who like to play “grabby hands” with the female staff. They all think they are cool. Bunch of arrogant jerks is what they are.

lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung
4 years 11 months ago
Whoopi Goldberg did the “Arment” thang with her movie “The Associate”. And there are a few examples of women that are making good money in the world. I think another side of this issue may be that women don’t “WANT” as much as guys do, so we don’t push as hard. I have many clients who have no desire to make seven figures – they just want a comfortable lifestyle. And my Mom used to say that the more zeroes there are at the end of a figure, the more responsibility and stress accompany it. I used to think that… Read more »
lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung
4 years 11 months ago
Whoopi Goldberg did the “Arment” thang with her movie “The Associate”. And there are a few examples of women that are making good money in the world. I think another side of this issue may be that women don’t “WANT” as much as guys do, so we don’t push as hard. I have many clients who have no desire to make seven figures – they just want a comfortable lifestyle. And my Mom used to say that the more zeroes there are at the end of a figure, the more responsibility and stress accompany it. I used to think that… Read more »
lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung
4 years 11 months ago
Whoopi Goldberg did the “Arment” thang with her movie “The Associate”. And there are a few examples of women that are making good money in the world. I think another side of this issue may be that women don’t “WANT” as much as guys do, so we don’t push as hard. I have many clients who have no desire to make seven figures – they just want a comfortable lifestyle. And my Mom used to say that the more zeroes there are at the end of a figure, the more responsibility and stress accompany it. I used to think that… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@Ameena Falchetto @SoloBizCoach wait you forget some men and women in the LGBT community do act like the opposite sex and it is natural to them. See sexuality is way to confusing.

The real question is how can people with the same skills get paid equally in the work place without gender, racial, or religious stereotypes or oppression skew the pay in favor of one group or another.

If a Drag Queen is better at direct sales than me they should be paid more. Oh and allowed to dress in Drag at work 8)

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@Ameena Falchetto @SoloBizCoach wait you forget some men and women in the LGBT community do act like the opposite sex and it is natural to them. See sexuality is way to confusing.

The real question is how can people with the same skills get paid equally in the work place without gender, racial, or religious stereotypes or oppression skew the pay in favor of one group or another.

If a Drag Queen is better at direct sales than me they should be paid more. Oh and allowed to dress in Drag at work 8)

DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX
4 years 11 months ago
We should let everyone’s track record speak for itself. Regardless of sex, the ability to be productive, effective, and efficient in the workplace is most important. I know women in the casting business who do an exceptional job. Sheila Jaffe, Carolyn Pickman, Angela Peri, Christine Wyse, Maura Tighe & Anne Mulhall are just a few in a long list. They have the ability to be feminine and produce results. Each of them is self confident without being the B word. Though I understand how certain men would feel threatened by a confident, intelligent female. Our upbringing and culture has conditioned… Read more »
DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM HowieSPM, very good points. Females do have to work very hard, especially in certain sectors, to get ahead.

Hajra
4 years 11 months ago
I read this after I fight with 5 men at work! Yes, call me the b**** but working solely with men has had this effect. I am working with a marine company helping them with the personnel management with a project and the other 15 people (all men) on the team feel that I am underage, unqualified, have problems with me not being an engineer and basically..”what’s girl doing here?” I wouldn’t disagree with people saying that women wait to get that attention but then because we have just been raised in a society that emphasizes female beauty and brain… Read more »
DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX
4 years 11 months ago

@fitzternet True, not all men are that way and let’s hope not all women follow that assumption.

John Falchetto
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM You are right, workplace equality is a huge topic. Look at equality for disabled people also. Imagine writing A rant about people in wheelchairs.

why do we even discuss posts written by such people?

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@NancyD68 now I know why I never watch TV except for South Park, Daily Show and Robot Chicken.

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM Wouldn’t you rather have a year or two of wonderful than a lifetime of mediocrity? Invest in the woman; no one knows what she will do after that baby arrives. Why not go for the gold and enjoy her talents and skills while she IS there, instead of lamenting about the time that she MAY not be there on her return?

Sad, but true assessment Howie!

trackback

[…] example this morning that caught my eye that perhaps illustrates the right side of the line … Gini Dietrich references her making up a fictitious male partner for her company (this was several years ago, apparently). Looking through the comments on the original post, it […]

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
Bleh! Why can’t we all just get along? 🙂 Seriously, why does this continue to happen? Why do I get a different score card than my male counterparts? The answer: because we are different and we all have different motivators in life that drive us or “interrupt” us. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to just say we should treat each other the same, regardless of our gender. We aren’t wired that way. We discriminate based on our preconceived notions. You know my thoughts on the mompreneur concept so I won’t belabor them here. I will say that the only way… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

please forgive the type-os! hurried typing never wins!!!

NancyD68
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM I never watched it either. I think we are of like mind on what TV shows to watch!

AmyMccTobin
4 years 11 months ago
I read one by Penny Strunk a couple of weeks ago that also caused me to blow a gasket. Read it only if you want to get MORE angry: http://www.bnet.com/blog/startup-tips/are-startups-better-as-single-gender-affairs/168?promo=COMBINED&tag=nl.rCOMBINED#57842_294631 I did not know the Arment story, but I completely get it, and the ‘glass ceiling’ is why I work for myself. In my last job as a VP of Sales (after I’d shattered all company records for Sales as a rep.) a new boss told me that I was ‘too emotional.’ This from a man who had landed in HR more than once for firing someone in anger. My… Read more »
AmyMccTobin
4 years 11 months ago

PS: The BITCH title is now a badge of honor in my book.

Sean McGinnis
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison@HowieSPM “Wouldn’t you rather have a year or two of wonderful than a lifetime of mediocrity?”

Wow…how I love that.

Sean McGinnis
4 years 11 months ago

Hahah. I knew you wouldn’t be able to leave that one alone….

I do love my Gini Dietrants! Off to find some more feeder material to plan under your skin @ginidietrich Ciao!

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
4 years 11 months ago

@Sean McGinnis@EricaAllison or 50 minutes with Gumby?

Erin F.
4 years 11 months ago

@fitzternet I’m not sure where the generalizations end, except person by person. Each person is different. Like you said, some are more confident than others. Some have to work harder to be assertive. There’s nothing wrong with that. Every single one of us has stronger and weaker traits, and we have to work to strengthen the weaker ones, and, sometimes, we have to choose not to use our stronger traits. Besides, are weaknesses really weaknesses? Couldn’t they be viewed as opportunities to grow and to meet and work with people who are stronger in those areas?

Sean McGinnis
4 years 11 months ago

@HowieSPM@EricaAllison ‘Cuz Gumby is one efficient bendable toy!

aspinchick
4 years 11 months ago

Love this @ginidietrich! Women are not as good at self-promoting. That is my biggest weakness. I can promote others much better than I can promote myself. You’ve inspired me to try harder (though that’s not what the post was about).

Erin F.
4 years 11 months ago
I encountered some of this mentality on LinkedIn a week or so ago. I happened to answer some question about entrepreneurship, and the woman who asked it replied to me saying that I was the only female to answer it. She then went on to say how women struggle to self-promote. That may be true for some women, but it’s silly to think that all women are that way. Those of us who do struggle to self-promote (ahem, me) have to work harder at it, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t remember who said this statement to me,… Read more »
Erin F.
4 years 11 months ago
I encountered some of this mentality on LinkedIn a week or so ago. I happened to answer some question about entrepreneurship, and the woman who asked it replied to me saying that I was the only female to answer it. She then went on to say how women struggle to self-promote. That may be true for some women, but it’s silly to think that all women are that way. Those of us who do struggle to self-promote (ahem, me) have to work harder at it, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t remember who said this statement to me,… Read more »
Erin F.
4 years 11 months ago

…and I totally had my own little rant there. Oops! 🙂

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