Have we learned nothing from the guys?


Imageby Karolyn Hart

I spent the majority of my career working in largely male-dominated industries. Back in the 90’s when I started my career “girls” just weren’t interested in technology and they REALLY weren’t interested in doing technology for the financial services industry.  As a result, I was trained by guys, coached by men, and mentored by gentlemen. They really taught me “What Every Professional Women Should Know” and I am greatly appreciative.

Recently, I’ve been following a number of authors from Forbes and Inc. who are discussing women in leadership.  Interestingly, one of the authors (a man if you’re interested) declared that one of the 2013 trends is the “rise of women” and that now everyone accepts that women are just “better” Apparently, we are better at leadership, and communications, and pretty much everything else.

Really? Oh brother.

The sentiment is being echoed all over the internet. Do a google search and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Here’s the thing…have we learned nothing?  While I appreciate the fact that women are being recognized for their abilities we cannot do it at the detriment of men.  Extremes produce extremes and I would hope that we’re more enlightened than these statements.

The fact is that men and women are different.  It’s not about “better”.  We’ve spent generations fighting for women to be seen as equal, but forcing men into the “weaker sex” makes us no better than those arrogant beasts in the 1950’s that wouldn’t let married women work.  Thank you IBM for leading the way!

Now this is not going to be poltically correct, and I also realize I’m biased because I spent most of my career working with men, but if I had to choose I would work with men.  There is something to be said for being focused. In fact, research shows that only about 5% of people multi-task effectively, so it’s complete hogwash to claim that we women do this more effectively in the workplace. I also appreciate how men are direct, usually have less emotional drama, and are results oriented.  It makes the work place much easier to navigate when you don’t have to worry about “who likes who” etc. What happens without that drama? Well, it gets filled with work – and I like that. I like it alot.

Now that the research is showing the world just how great we women are, how about we not repeat the same mistake of making gender-biased assumptions? How about we realize that there is beauty in the complexity of our differences?   Imagine a world in the future where we take the lessons from the past instead of arrogantly demanding our turn at the wheel. Why not simply move forward in confidence into a future where we have learned that a person’s ability is not predetermined by their race, sex, or the religion they practice.

It’s black history month and Rev. King’s “I have a dream” speech may be resonating with me right now as a result, but there’s something to be said that our future is better united together then repeating the mistakes of the past.

At the end of the day, I may prefer to work with men if given the choice, but I also want the voice of the opposite sex at the table during those conversations because I know it will make whatever is being worked on stronger – and that was always the point. Equality brings strength so let’s be sure to not lose it in our future.

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