Almost a year ago, a flurry of TechCrunch commenters repeatedly called me the “C word”, insisted that my brain somehow was incapable of quantitative tasks, and one even told me if I didn’t like my female body, I could euthanize myself legally in the state of Oregon. Awesome.
Today Katrina Tolentino put out a brave post about what it is like to network in the heavily male dominated industry that is tech. Basically, some men can be really crass and think they are clever, when actually they are just gross. I know Katrina. She is a good person and really shouldn’t have to put up with that crap.
The typical response to these situations is apologies. Men lament that other men could be so lame and hope that future generations will not have to face such absurdity. As someone who gets this stuff as much as anyone, I’m asking you, stop apologizing. Women are not the only victims here. We all are.
According to studies conducted by Columbia University, McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, and Pepperdine University, research documents a clear relationship between women in senior management and corporate financial success. Ernst & Young rounded up studies that show that women can make the difference between economic success and failure in the developing world, between good and bad decision-making in the industrialized world, and between profit and loss in the corporate world. Their conclusion: American companies would do well with more senior women. Economists at Davos even speculated that the presence of more women on Wall Street might have averted the downturn.
Why? Some speculate that women tend to be more risk averse and instead think of steady, attainable longterm goals. Women also think more along the lines of collaboration rather than competition. This balances out some of the “one-upsmanship” and competitive nature seen in their male counterparts.
I’m outspoken, intelligent, and have worked hard my entire life. When I express myself at work, I’m not challenging you to make you look bad and I’m not just scheming to get ahead. I’m challenging you because I have a perspective you might not have considered that can actually help you. When men see women as victims, they fail to see what invaluable assets different perspectives can bring to any group. THIS is the attitude that needs to stop.
Don’t believe me? Ask Michael Arrington what Heather Harde has brought to TechCrunch, or Larry Page what Marissa Mayer means to Google. Ask Mark Zuckerberg what Sheryl Sandberg brings to Facebook. It’s great to think you can be Super Man, but you aren’t. We just do our best to make sure you don’t fall of a ledge thinking you can suddenly fly.
And the next time you say something crude to a woman at a happy hour, remember that one day, someone could wise up and hire that woman in a senior management position. She won’t be a piece of meat then–she’ll be your boss.