Archive for September, 2008

Playing Like A Girl

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

In this radio interview about Sarah Palin the other day, James Muller, professor of political science at the U. of Alaska, was asked if Joe Biden should plan to take it easy on Sarah during their debates.  He answered (in essence–not a direct quote), “Biden shouldn’t hold back, Sarah likes to get in there and fight with the boys.”

So.  No worries for Sarah.  But maybe you’re not crazy about wading knee-deep through testoserone in the workplace?  

You may not have a choice. 

Women who reach the tops of their fields very often find themselves the only woman in the room.  Plus plenty of professions are still heavily male-centric at all levels.  Either way, at work you as a woman need to find a way to deal with men, or you are chopped moose.

How?  Let’s see, what has Sarah done?  Well, her hobbies are hunting caribou and shooting wolves from planes and helicopters.  Does this tell you anything?

What it tells Working Girl is that one effective way for a woman to succeed in a man’s world is to be, in some sense, like a man. 

No, she’s not recommending you make the slaughter of small, or large, animals your new hobby.  What she’s saying is that in a man’s world it can be enormously useful to know which buttons to push and when.  Men have general rules for behavior.  As women we need to know and–when it suits our purposes–play by men’s rules.

For example:  Men respect facts over feelings.  Men are results-oriented (they don’t care how you get there, only that you get there).

Most of all, men don’t mind conflict.  If they make a suggestion and it’s ignored, they don’t complain no one is listening to them.  They make the suggestion again.  They fight.  They argue. 

Is this what Sarah does?  Maybe.  It is true she has achieved remarkable success in a very short period of time.  And that success has been in a man’s world.  She did it, in WG’s HO, by adopting male behavior.  (Or maybe it just came naturally to her–after all, she’s been “Sarah Barracuda” for a long time.) 

The question for the rest of us is what form our adaptation will take.  Working Girl does not believe women need to turn into men to succeed in a man’s world.  Play their game when you have to.  Play it your way.  But play to win. 

Do Women Make Good Leaders?

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

US World and News ReportsNow that we have a woman running for high office (if you don’t know who, then we’re all really worried about you), it’s time to consider leadership and women.

Are we good leaders?  Terrible?  The best?  The worst?  Are we, maybe, better than men? 

These thoughts considered over at WG’s weekly post at U.S. News & World Report.

A Woman's Right To Choose

Monday, September 8th, 2008

The blogosphere and MSM continue to fret about Sarah Palin’s (mother of five!  one of them a babe!) choice to run for V.P. of the U.S.

And who are the people most criticizing her?  You got it–it’s other women.  It’s her fellow females, the people you’d think would be saying “You go, girl,” who are questioning her judgment, her priorities, and her sanity.

The reason is pretty clear, in Working Girl’s HO.  Women feel that Sarah’s choice threatens, belittles, or otherwise throws into a bad light their choices.  Because, let’s face it.  Many women say “No thanks” to the corner office, the 12-hour days, and the fancy titles in favor of more flexibility and more time.  More LIFE. 

These dissenting women don’t question whether a woman is capable of such a big job.  They ask, “Why does she even want to try?”  Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of “Womenomics: The Workplace Revolution That Will Change Your Life”* said as much in the Wall St. Journal a few days ago.  Their premise is that more and more women are “fed up with 50- and 60-hour weeks” and are “looking for jobs that demand fewer and freer hours.”

They cite numbers:

  • In 1992 57% of women with college degrees wanted more responsibility at work; in 2002 only 35% wanted this.
  • Four out of five women consider “flexibility” to be a top priority at work.
  • Sixty percent of women want to work part time.

That makes Sarah Palin, with her outsize and “unfeminine” ambition, a threat.  Not to men.  But to women.

WG’s opinion?  Chill.  Allow Sarah Palin her right to choose.  If you want Sarah as a role model, have at it.  The rest of us?  We’re free to exercise our right to choose a different path.  

Assuming we have the luxury of doing so–more than 70% of women with children under the age of 18 have jobs (for women with children under the age of 3 the number is 57%). 

*Not out till next spring.

Should Sarah Palin Have A Career?

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

In other words, how dare a woman with five children, one who is an infant and only one of whom has left the nest, think for even five minutes of taking on a big job like Vice President of the United States?

There’s been a lot of talk already about this newest skirmish in the Mommy Wars.  Who’s going to take care of the children?  Doesn’t this make Sarah Palin a bad mother?  What about “family values“?  Will she be able to concentrate on her work?  And if she fails, wouldn’t this reflect poorly on all working mothers?

Working Girl, who has never had children and is probably not qualified to have an opinion, much less share it, weighs in.  (Everyone else is).   Here goes:  If Sarah Palin thinks she can do it, and her family is on board with it, then It’s Her Business.

Heck.  Wasn’t the feminist revolution all about equality of opportunity for women, in the workforce and beyond?

Don’t worry about Sarah.  Unlike most working mothers of five, she would have scads of help and resources.  A U.S. vice president earns $221,200 a year.  She’d be living at the fully staffed Number One Observatory Circle.  And isn’t Todd all set to do the Mr. Mom thing?

This is key: Someone other than Sarah would, to a large degree, raise those children.  And Sarah would, to whatever degree, be disengaged from them.  (Because WG sez, you can have it all—you just can’t have it all at the same time.)

Nothing new here.  The ruling class* has been rearing children this way since pretty much always.  Would the children suffer?  Maybe.  But maybe they’d suffer if she were a 100% fulltime stay-at-home mom, too.  No matter what your life situation, there’s a downside.

*You don’t think of hockey-mom Sarah in the same breath with the term “ruling class”?  Think again, duckie.  People who aim for high office are not like you and WG.  They may claim to be “jes’ folks,” they may manage to project a persona of someone you’d like to have a beer with (some voters seem to desire this quality in a leader), but a man or woman running for president, or vice president, is all about the power.  And is ready to accept whatever that entails.

P.S.  No, WG isn’t voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.  Nope.  But she does think that if Palin chooses to be a working mother, then let her.

This Can't Be Right

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  The perfect moment for a time-wasting personality quiz!  WG’s results seem a little hard to believe, though.

Oh well.  Happy Friday. 

(This link via the fabulous Florinda.)

You Have A Type B+ Personality

You’re a pro at going with the flowYou love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer

A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.While you’re totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.

Get into a project you love, and you won’t stop until it’s done

You’re passionate – just selective about your passions


How To Survive A Layoff

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Back in April, Working Girl did a little post on “What to Do If You Lose Your Job.”  All that info is still good.

But you know, WG has never actually been laid off.  (Pure luck.)  So if you want some real life advice from onewhohasbeenthere–a smart man named Ron Nutter–check out this article.  (Ron blogged about his job search.)

Favorite tips:

  1. Right after the “event,” take some time for yourself.  (It’ll help.)
  2. Cut food costs.  (Admit it–there’s room to economize.)
  3. Accept help from family.  (That’s what family’s for!)
  4. Keep good records (of everything you’ve done in your job hunt).
  5. Don’t wait for the phone to ring.  (Ha.  Good one!)
  6. And WG’s favorite: Get out of the house at least once a day.

(Thanks to Nick Corcodilos for the original link.)

Got The End Of Summer Blues?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

US World and News ReportsWorking Girl doesn’t know about your corner of the country, but here in Seattle summer has ended very suddenly.

That autumn nip is in the air.  Which is nice–fall is a lovely season!–but it does feel as if “real life” is back with a vengeance. 

Is your real life (i.e., work life) not that exciting?  Do you feel a little down, a little bored at work?  Well, sashay on over to WG’s post today at U.S. News and get the cure.  The cure to job boredom, that is.  

Name Your Salary

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Yes, you can name your salary.  Most especially when you’re freelance and a client asks, “What’s your fee?”

The big problem here, of course, is “How to decide how much?”  Working Girl’s method is a simple two-step process:

  1. ask yourself what is the absolute minimum you’d work for, and
  2. double it.*

Recently, loyal reader and fantastic friend X tried this system (sort of).  Here’s what happened:

The funniest thing. . . I was quoting for that job and, talking it through with my husband, I said, Well, it comes in at $X if I extrapolate from the hourly rate, but if I took Karen’s advice I’d now double the price.  I didn’t quite have the nerve to do it, but quoted her an extra 60% on top of my “real” price–and she accepted it, no quibbles!  I laughed out loud when I saw the acceptance email this morning!

Way to go, X!

Of course you can use other criteria for figuring out what kind of money to ask for.  Find out the going rate, for one thing. 

But remember that there’s always a lot of leeway in determining salary and/or fees.  Pay can depend on (1) your experience, (2) your education, (3) your age, (4) the area of the country you live in, (5) the economy, (6) the competition, (7) the size of the company, and (8) how desperate the employer is.  Heck, even on your height.

So arm yourself with as much information as you can.  And then give yourself some bargaining wiggle room.

*Sometimes she triples it.

Hey, It's Labor Day

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Hope you’re not laboring.  (WG is.)