The other day I read this article from WIRED: This is What Tech's Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like. Big title, heart trenching stories, fully following the recent trend, the so called third wave of feminist movement, somewhat provoked by Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In last year. Good cause, and I'm fully up for it - but recently something seems to go a bit off track. It seems that the layman world starts to take this subject at its face value.
First it was Pantene's #ShineStrong commercial Label Against Women - Ok, a Sexy And The City version of exactly the same things Sheryl Sandberg described in her book, which is fine. Girls who didn't bother to read books can watch shampoo commercials and get educated.
Then it was Verizon's Inspire Her Mind commercial - Very cute. I ended up wondering, my parents must be a couple of weirdos. My mom never dressed me in bright colors because she didn't bother to do my laundry too often. And my dad always left his garage toolkit wide open for me to cut a finger or two.
And this one, #ShineStrong second commercial Not Sorry, really made me "Errrrr".
Not that the commercials got it wrong, but those are not the real point.
The biggest problem is that women take everything way too personal.
Reading the first story from that WIRED article:
... when she (Kathryn Tucker, founder of RedRover) finished her pitch, the investor said he didn’t invest in women.
When she asked why, he told her. “I don’t like the way women think,” he said. “They haven’t mastered linear thinking.” To prove his point, he explained that his wife could never prioritize her to-do lists properly. And then, as if he was trying to compliment her, he told Tucker she was different. “You’re more male,” he said.
Tucker didn’t need to hear any more. “I said, ‘Thanks very much,’ walked out, and never spoke to him again,” ...
I was already shaking my head. Throughout that article, the stories those female founders told seem all center around "We're discriminated, insulted, belittled."
Woman, don't do this to yourself. Taking every rejection as an insult, that's exactly what women tend to do while men learned not to do way before they were a grown man. How can you get what you want if you take every "no" for "no"? - To Kathryn Tucker's credit, the investor actually said "yes" but she insisted to turn it into "no" and decided that she was offended.
I shake my head because I made the same mistake many times, many times, until I read Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. It's a terrific book. It was recommended by Sheryl Sandberg at the end of Lean In, and I think it deserves much more attention. Every woman who has time whining about gender gap in business should read this book. Compare this story with the Kathryn Tucker story above:
... (The son of Gail's friend) was considerably shorter than his (high school) classmates, he arranged a basket shooting display for his coach to show that his skill compensated for his size. He had practiced on the garage hoop several hours a day for the better part of two years. The strategy worked. He landed a spot as a guard.
When he announced the good news to his family at the dinner table that night, his father was delighted. But his sister, looking at him with the disdain that only a younger sister can muster, said, “I’d never want to join any team that didn’t already want me.”
Carry this kind of experience over to the job interview. The typical guy, who knows what it’s like to sit on the bench waiting to play, arrives prepared to sell himself. His every movement says, “Come on, coach, let me in the game.”
Most women, on the other hand, spend a lifetime hoping to get noticed. We’re taught that it’s more polite to wait to be asked—to go out on a date, to get called on in class...
- Excerpt From: Gail Evans. “Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman.”
Does Kathryn Tucker's reaction to the investor's remark sound any different from the younger sister? "I don't want your investment if you didn't already want me."
Men trash talk to each other since they were little boys. They're not easily offended.
If the coach or the team captain says "no" to him, and says some other mean things to trash him down, the boy is not going to be insulted. It's no use feeling hurt. He's just going to try harder, and try again. Until he finally gets it.
I'm sure a mean investor will say mean things to anyone, man or woman. It's up to you how you take it. Taking it as an insult is definitely not helping.
If I heard someone telling me women "haven’t mastered linear thinking”, I probably would have laughed, agreeably. It's kind of true! "Linear thinking" is not natural to me. I had to train myself to learn it. I'm always impressed by men who can only think one thing at a time!
"But hey," If I were Tucker I would add, "Today's business world is not linear. Did you realized that? The business has never been linear. Maybe it's time for you to try something new, get a new perspective. While I'm flattered that you think I'm more 'male', maybe I can also have the honor to open the door for you to see a different way of thinking that actually works."
Women, stop complaining. (Ok, we do need to rant a bit every now and then, so the unconscious ones can hear us.) But for the sake of sanity, read books.
Here's a good starter kit:
- Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman by Gail Evans
- I'd Rather Be In Charge by Charlotte Beers
- Lipstick Jungle (fiction) by Candace Bushnell (author of Sex And The City)
The book is way deeper than the TV adaption. Read the book.
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
Not only we need women in tech, we also need woman in comedy!! This book is not as instructional / inspirational as the previous 3, in terms of being a woman trying to get ahead; but it does show that not all girls grew up like how the Verizon commercial depicts. It's a message to parents: "Girl nerds are hot nowadays!"... wishful thinking : )
Tina Fey has an entire chapter devoted to puberty and her first time menstruation. It's so hilarious that I laughed out loud uncontrollably on an airplane. That chapter is worth all the 10 bucks I paid for the book. While this blog post is to talk about problems adult women have in the business world, there's no woman who weren't a girl before. How we came through the strange phase of puberty totally defines how we behave as an adult. So puberty education is darn important.
I saw a commercial "Like A Girl" addressing this topic recently. The first few seconds threw me off a little and I didn't finish watching first time I saw it. But for the sake of this blog post, I dig a little deeper, and was delightfully touched. I did remember when I was a teenager, I was judged by some adults surrounding me, saying that I was not as graceful as a girl. It hurt in the beginning, but I couldn't change myself into the way they defined as a graceful girl, and I grew up the way it is. Maybe that explains why I'm such an awesome woman today. Here's the full campaign by feminine product brand Always. Hats off to Always for taking the initiative.