In response to Marika’s post:
Hmm… ok my opinion might not be the most popular but since you asked.
Women are women. Men are men. They are built differently, so why shouldn’t they act, interact and work differently? I’m not endorsing sexist division of any form here. I firmly believe that every individual should be treated with respect and dignity. Note, EVERY individual, no exceptions, no compromises.
What many feminist ask women to do is to throw away their feminine attributes and embrace masculinity. Then what do you have, a man living inside a women’s body? If that sounds wrong, then it should. Cause it is. There is nothing wrong with the feminine/motherly attributes of caring and nurturing. Men really suck at this. We are better aggressive pursuits, endurance, etc. And that is good too. As a race, we need a balance of attributes to make sure we survive in the face of changing conditions.
As for your question for women in business… If you ever read Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, he devotes a note specialled aimed at men wanted to start their own business. He writes, that if you are a guy and you come up with a business plan you should discuss with a women. You see society in general frowns on men’s urge to kill stuff. Except in terms of business. Tell a guy, this new business will kill Google or Ford or Motorola or <insert name of successful business here>, and he’ll say it is a good idea. But that is not the point of business. The point of business is to provide a product or service that someone values enough to they want to give up a portion of their earnings to get said product or service. So bringing your idea to a woman will get that insight, whether your idea is a sane business plan.
A woman’s contributions thanks to her feminine attributes doesn’t end there. Want someone to manage the day to day and juggle tasks effectively? Sorry, but not a gent’s strong point. Want someone to nurture good relationships with a client as a person and not as the next “kill”? Thats right, ladies you are better at that. Want someone to point out that your product is going to be used by a person? You get the idea. Women do bring a lot to the table in business. An enlightened businessman (whether the person is a man or a woman is irrevlant, I just hate using politically correct wording) will recognize this, and engage with working with men and women according to their individual skills, talents and attributes.
Now I understand the concern, that higher up men usually dominate. But it is also a very competitive and aggressive environment up there in the CXO world. Most women would not want to engage in overtly aggressive activities. But CXOs have to get out there and compete hard with others. Those are simply the attributes of the job. And hence the illusion of a glass ceiling for women in business forms in people’s heads. The uncomfortable truth is that most guys don’t mind if a women does work in CXO positions. In fact, they look up to those ladies who can tolerate the aggressive driving nature of upper level business. The other uncomfortable truth is most women dislike or operate worse in these kinds of environments. Not to say that no woman should be a CXO. Some thrive in this environment and good for them! Every individual needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. But in general, there are fewer women in CXO positions. Also there are many stories about women getting to the upper levels, and then realizing that kind of work didn’t suit them.
So it is not that women can not be successful in business. It is justsuccess must be measured not only in terms of salary and paid benefits. Success comes when a person feels like they are fulfilled in life. When a person feels whole and everything is in balance, that is success. Repressing your nature just for a higher position is not a sign of success. It is a rather an admission of failure to accepting oneself. That is why I think that your coworker’s thoughts are downright derogatory and demeaning. It does the opposite of its intent. It looks down at feminine nature as weaker than masculine. And is a blantant lie. Feminine nature is different than masculine nature. Different not worse or better.