Friday, April 18, 2008

Why It Matters

There are two things I appreciate about Brad's post on disgusting sexism. One is the focus on what's in it for business and for men - not just what's in it for women. That's just a smart approach for a whole lot of reasons.

Along those lines, I submit the following supporting arguments, one oriented toward competitiveness in business and one toward what's in it for the guys so they understand where there might be some benefit amidst the perceived threats:

  1. During my flight training, I was in the top five of my class. In fact, half of the top ten were women and we only had ten women out of 100 in the class. When debating the subject (way back when it was almost pure fiction) of women pilots in the military, I always contended that if similar statistics were to apply across the board (and because of the type of program I was in, there was no reason to think they wouldn't), why in the world would you put ten guys into ten very expensive planes if it meant passing over five women who were better?

    In other words, if you had a top-notch female pilot and a mediocre male pilot, why would you put him in the plane and have her fly the desk? I'm sure it doesn't take above-average critical thinking skills to apply this argument to IT.

  2. As more men strive for some kind of work/life balance of their own, more involvement with kids or aging parents, want more money, more flexible time, etc to start businesses and venture capital funds and that sort of thing, how do you suppose that happens? One good way for it to happen in the context of couples and families is for improved gender pay equity.

    If there are two adults in a household, one male and one female, and she's able to make as much money as he can, then they BOTH have more choices about who does what, for how much of the day, and for how long. As long as he makes significantly more money than she does, the financial equation will almost always push him out the door. And if there are more than two children, that same equation will lock the door with her inside and him stuck on the outside. Personally, I prefer that everyone have more choices.
The second thing that I appreciate is pointing out just how backward societal thinking still is sometimes. It is beyond me how people of both genders still see women (as a group) as different, a threat, or in any way unfit for the wide variety of work that we do. Comments like those made by Brad's email guy make it clear why it's still important to pay attention to the matter and not assume that it's already solved.

Notice I don't say enacting any special laws or providing any special privileges.

What I don't appreciate is whining. I find it interesting that even while this guy accuses an entire gender of complaining, his post is effectively one big 'poor me' and I'm not even clear why he cares that much or feels the way he does!

Go ahead - comment. It's a big subject and I can handle the truth, whatever kind you have to offer.

What's important enough to make you want to speak up?