Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Likeable vs. Successful

I don't know how I've been finding them recently, but there has been article after article about how professional women are dealing with a variety of different aspects. The article I read today (http://spinsucks.com/entrepreneur/likable-vs-successful-the-issue-women-leaders-face/) was thought provoking and has some serious flaws.
I agree with the first paragraph. I love men too, for a variety of different reasons of course, but for one, I relate really well to them. I do have a brother, but he's younger, so it wasn't so much that I "learned" from men, it is just that I was brought up to be more straightforward, to stick up for myself and taught how to ask for what I want. My dad always told me I could do whatever I wanted, be whomever I wanted to be. It wasn't so much learning from a man those things, it was learning from my parents, teachers, friends and colleagues those things. Some of which are definitely men, but most of which just wanted me to be confident and self-reliant as a woman.
Do women have a significant place in this world? Obviously. For a variety of different reasons, some traditional, some more contemporary. All the statistics menitoned in the article, if actually true, probably aren't true because women are acting like men, otherwise those statistics would be similar to men, right? There is something different about women. Whether it is our ability to mix the "men" characteristics with the traditional "women" characteristics, or that it is the different way companies perceive women in "power" roles, there is still something different than just women taking on the "man" roles and traits.
As for the last paragraph in the article, I just flat disagree. The tone of that paragraph makes me wonder if the author has really ever hung out with men. The absolutely audaciously broad statement that men don't care what others think is just ridiculous and completely lacks insight. Sure, is that the "traditional" position of men? Maybe. But having hung out with men and had serious, in-depth conversations about their fears, concerns and aspirations in life, there is absolutely a very real sentiment of caring. In fact, the caring sometimes inhibits commitment due to intimidation. We're all human, we all have insecurities, even if some are masked by bravado.
Furthermore, that women adjust their behavior to be likeable? Once again a severe generalization. I, for one, have never been willing to compromise my stance just to be liked. It has caused some conflict, but I'm not confrontation averse. I can handle the dislike, which really I'm not sure would be classified that way. I stand up for what I believe in. In most eyes that makes me a strong woman, not necessarily "manly".
Interestingly, as I was reading this article I was also watching the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It".  A movie about a professional woman putting her family life in jeopardy to follow her career. Of course at some point she realizes that life has to change to accommodate the needs of her family. I say "of course" not as if that is always the case, but more so that, as humans, especially women, we're pulled different directions due to the traditional roles we've historically been characterized into. All of us have to determine what aspects of our life are more important and what facets are deemed appropriate for requesting compromise and consideration. Some women may do that better than some men, but don't discount the men that are doing it as well. What it comes down to is that we (men and women) operate differently in life, especially in professional roles. We frame our careers and families in different ways and it varies from person to person, not from gender to gender. The recognition comes though in that we can't look at it as a "man" or a "woman", we look at it as each individual human. It's much harder to write about, but a more honest approach. When it comes down to it, a line from the movie, "Trying to be a man, is a waste of a woman," really should be approached as "Trying to be anyone other than who we are, is a waste of who we are."

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