Relevant Articles

On this page (which you may reach by clicking on the Commentary button you'll find on every page of this site), I collect & comment on articles relevant to the gender and work-life balance issues I explored in A Merger of Equals. The most recent additions to the collection are always at the top.

Gender stereotyping is so demeaning, and here's one that manages to insult men and, by implication, women too. It's not merely an example of politically incorrect short-sightedness on Clorox's part; advertising is rife with stereotyping. Note in particular the comment one guy makes about how this kind of thing wouldn't be tolerated re: any other demographic, which immediately made me think, "Oh really? This kind of crap is tolerated re: women pretty much daily!"

"Young men thought that if the equality ideal failed, their wives would be the ones to cut back on work. Young women agreed." What??!? It's ridiculous for women years away from the actuality of kid-related work-life balance conflicts already to be planning on sacrificing their career or motherhood goals. Why give up before you've even started, before you even know what the conflicts will feel like? In my opinion and in my experience, this kind of sacrifice on the part of career women who want/have children is unnecessary. Show some fortitude and determination (essential ingredients for a successful career no matter your gender!), and build the life you want. It's not easy all the time, but it is entirely possible and incredibly rewarding - for you, for your spouse and for your kids.

Casual, throwaway sexism reveals ingrained biases that operate, however unintentionally, to perpetuate traditional definitions and limit opportunity. Here's an appallingly perfect example: Florida's new business slogan.

I'm dismayed that this is news - in 2012! - but I love that it is happening, and the first woman to officiate an NFL game is making inspiring and intelligent comments. As if the return of football weren't delight enough! I'll be watching her and rooting for her.

This is a puff piece as articles go, but I bet the underlying study on changes in IQ over time and categorized by gender is quite interesting, and I find the statement "The full effect of modernity on women is only just emerging" to be incisive indeed.

Pay parity still eludes women - as clear a sign as anyone should need to know that activist feminism is not even close to unnecessary or out of style.  Quite the contrary, it is essential.  More on that here and here.

Sad, but very unfortunately true. Still. In 2012. "How Jessica Dorrell hurt all women trying to work in college football." The specific becomes the generic awfully quickly where women working in traditionally male environments are concerned, and Ms. Dorrell's poor judgment will inevitably ripple outward and harm other women's chances to enter and progress in college football - and elsewhere.

Good old Erica Jong.  Still determined, still both earnest and jaunty, still tilting at all the right windmills, and still a hell of an entertaining writer. Check out this essay on the current state of - and need for - feminism.

Positive, inspiring news on the women's rights front may be rare, but in this case at least, magnificence goes a long way toward making up for scarcity. Congratulations to these newest Nobel laureates.

To anyone who thinks we're past the era of sexist stereotypes that demean and undermine women: a T-shirt the very existence of which proves otherwise. Definitively.

"We are firing the women so they can stay at home and look after the children. In any case, what they bring in is a second income." Unfortunately, this is neither a joke nor a role play designed to showcase demeaning attitudes. An Italian engineering firm decided to fire only women in its most recent round of layoffs.

Doubt the continuing existence and impact of gender bias? Check out this story on companies with men-only boards of directors. Refusals to comment, "attitude barriers" and claims of tokenism, oh my.

Here is a super-inane article attempting, I presume, to pander to some cockeyed notion of motherhood and apple pie by characterizing stay-at-home motherhood (SAHM, for the uninitiated) as a job and assigning it a pay scale. Who exactly would pay this "salary?" And why? Should we all be paid like travel agents when we plan our vacations? Like CPAs when we pay our bills and do our taxes? Like sanitation workers when we take out the garbage? SAHM is a lifestyle choice, not a job. And parenting, whether SAHM or in any other guise, is not a financial transaction. It cannot be justified or validated as a job, nor need it be.

The state of American women remains oddly unchanging even as it undergoes enormous changes. All at once intriguing, hopeful and disappointing.

Sigh. In addition to the obvious idiocy of his remark, this CEO's comment about women in the boardroom reveals a tired, but very much alive, complete lack of understanding of the true value of diversity and an equally tired (and, evidently, equally ongoing) bone-deep sexism.

According to this article, sexism remains a problem for women in politics, including from "gender-specific vilification."  Really?  You think?  There's ample evidence inside and outside politics that the need for feminist activism remains pressing.  The availability of career opportunities for women throughout the spectrum of industries and arenas should not be mistaken for a level playing field.

Female political candidates are now being told they'll gain rather than lose votes by responding aggressively to sexist attacks by opponents.  Apparently, as recently as last year the idea was to suffer these attacks in silence on the theory that responding to them simply drew attention to or magnified them.  Nice to see political consultants catching up with the reality that standing by silently in the face of sexism, racism or any other bigotry is rarely, if ever, the right response.  Silence effectively constitutes consent and turns victims into unwilling, uneasy collaborators.  It also lends acceptability, even validity, to bigotry, and inures people to the harm.

Here's a thoughtful article on where motherhood fits and doesn't fit relative to career, this one in the context of women on the Supreme Court.  Of particular interest to me is the notion that older women, the ones who broke initial barriers and paved the way for those of us who followed, paradoxically had more freedom (gave themselves more freedom?) where their personal lives were concerned.  I wrote about this exact notion in Chapter 18 of A Merger of Equals.  But honestly? The fact that we still have these conversations makes me both sick and sad.

Except for comments from a few apparently terrific husbands, this article on "women who marry down" is classist and racist as well as sexist. Why, oh why couldn't it have been an article about education and employment gains among women or refreshing attitudes toward relationships, as opposed to a weirdly apologetic reinforcement of demeaning stereotypes relating to women, men and marriage?

This story about "moms compromising their own careers" to micromanage their teenaged kids' college prospects is sick on so many levels.  Anyone looking forward to hiring or managing these kids one day, given that their own mothers consider them too incompetent to handle the college application process or the "stress" of writing essays?  Anyone actually think all the prep crap described in the article means anything when it's done by the mother for the purpose of making the kid's application look good as opposed to by the kid out of genuine interest?  And what about the terrible example the mothers are setting in terms of their own dubious commitment to career - not to mention their lack of confidence in their kids' independent abilities?  Ick.

What a load of crap!  (Ungrammatically titled crap at that.)  "Helpful Dads Can Hurt Mom's Self-Esteem." Is there no end to the ways in which data can be - and are - interpreted to pigeonhole and demean women?  And, now that I think about it, men too?

Here's a touching story that in the end is sad because the recognition comes so late and because evidently these female WWII pilots had to fight long and hard for the veteran status they deserved.  I like the nobility of the sentiments expressed by Ms. Parrish, the pilot quoted in the article, but she and her colleagues should not have had to serve without expectation of thanks merely because they were women.

Despite the bulkiness of its title, a book called Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism's Work is Done sounds intriguing. And here's a point that strikes me as right on the money: Young women are not necessarily in on the message that it's OK to pretend men are slobs and women are bimbos because, of course, we all know that's "only a joke."

Apropos of a discussion Jane and her friends have in Chapter 19 of A Merger of Equals about how great it would be if every working person had a wife, here's a ruefully funny article from Sandra Tsing Loh entitled "My So-Called Wife." Among other things, Loh hilariously details the challenges of splitting domestic chores in our post-modern world; for more on that, here's a blog post called "Sex and Parenting."

Here's another well-written, fun-to-read Glossed Over post exposing the sexist idiocy too often contained in fashion magazines. As one of the commenters notes, the article dissected in the post might as easily be an Onion parody as an actual article. Would that it were only that!

The snarky tone of this NY Times article is depressingly familiar (really, must we denigrate women's achievements even as we report them?), but the substance is noteworthy. Evidently, from January 2000 through May 2009, hedge funds managed by women produced on average nearly double the annual returns compared to funds managed by men.

"Sex and the Married Man" is a fantastic essay by Caitlin Flanagan. About Helen Gurley Brown, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards and his mistress, and a whole lot more, the essay is gripping and a complete pleasure to read.  It fits its pieces together like a perfectly constructed puzzle and makes several unforgettable points on feminism, gender, modern culture (roots as well as current status), self-creation and self-definition. Superb.

Good, solid article entitled "The Mismeasure of Woman" by Joanne Lipman, with plenty of the recommended sense of humor, on the stalling of progress toward gender equality.  Some of the reasons offered to explain the stall intrigue, but don't quite fly (9/11? A bit New-York-City-centric, perhaps), but the analysis of the ugly misogyny that is commonplace on the internet (and, slightly cleaned up, in traditional media too) is a winner.  The article also offers some good how-to advice for women.

Excellent, fascinating, touching article by Penelope Trunk on why she tweeted about her miscarriage.

Here's an...um...unexpected story about women breaking through the glass ceiling. In Naples, Italy. In the Mob. Sexism rears its ugly head, oddly enough, in the prosecutorial ranks where male prosecutors have routinely underestimated the role of women in all manner of nefarious activities, including violence.  Female prosecutors evidently have a dimmer and, in this case, more true-to-life view.

This beautifully written New York Times review of Gail Collins' When Everything Changed is an eye-opening pleasure to read.  The book's subtitle is "The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present." I was struck by the following point, particularly the part about women under 30, whom I've often found to be noticeably cavalier about the ongoing need for feminism: "...women have run for president, 'fought for their country, argued before the Supreme Court, performed heart surgery' and done a hundred things that would have been truly unimaginable 50 years ago — a time that is equally unimaginable to any woman under 30."

Supportive take on being the husband of a phenomenally successful woman.  Paul Pelosi sounds like a true partner, as well as a whole person in his own right. Some of the questions he's asked in the article are ridiculous attempts to cast him in a stereotypical hen-pecked ninny role; he handles even those with aplomb and distinction.

Click Print to read this article by Ann Daly on hidden rules that can sabotage your career.  That way, you'll skip two annoyances: (1) having to reload five times to read the whole thing; and (2) having to read the somewhat boneheaded introduction before you get to the good stuff: the hidden rules.

In the "I weep for the future" category: This iPhone application for Pepsi's AMP energy drink called - adolescently - "before you score" evidently relegates men to predatory oafs, women to gullible sex objects, and heartfelt relationships to the rubbish heap. (Update: Here's the almost immediate response from Pepsi. Do people/companies no longer understand that it's not an apology if it's stated in this "if" terminology? Also, what are they, comatose? Can there be much doubt that the app is in bad taste?)

The kind of casual, gratuitous sexism that diminishes us all reared its ugly head on Sunday Night Football in the form of a blithe comment that cast wives as subordinates, children as beneath male notice, and men as both pigs and masters of the universe. I was so appalled that I paused the game and wrote a blog post entitled "Sunday Night Outrage."

Oh, dear. This piece on newborns as narcotics by Katie Roiphe, someone who should (and likely does) know better, is both gag-inducing and yet another distressing example of the one-size-fits-all thinking that is so commonly used to undermine women who feel differently. Many of us loved our newborns deeply, extravagantly even, but without losing our ambition, our ability to compose coherent sentences (which, despite her protestations to the contrary, Ms. Roiphe obviously remains able to do quite competently) or our desire to remain part of the quotidian world of business and commerce.

There's so much wrong with this article on reluctant stay-ay-home dads that it's hard to know where to start. Sexism in spades, class-ism, arrogance, and, woven throughout, the smug assumption that household duties are really not men's work (and, thus, that they must be women's). Ugh.

Good (and, in my experience, largely accurate) insights from Carol Smith, SVP & Chief Brand Officer for the Elle Group, on the ways women and men differ as managers, and the advantages that women managers offer.  I agree, too, that mixed-gender workplaces are the most effective and satisfying, a topic I commented on here.

Excellent post by Sarah Seltzer on sex, Harry Potter (books & movies, not Harry himself), gender expectations, and young adult fiction.

The fundamentals of studies like the one described in this article about tall people making more money are always a bit suspect, and the cause-effect link is not even close to manifest. Still, the conclusion doesn't surprise me nor would it surprise either of the protagonists in A Merger of Equals - the short one or the tall one.

Interesting take on what Sarah Palin's resignation says - or doesn't say - about the so-called opt-out revolution, a much-ballyhooed phenomenon that does not, in actual fact, exist.

Comedy: another bastion of sexism?

The meaning and importance of women on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Excellent post by The Mama Bee on how even women who support the cause of equality for women in the corporate world sometimes hedge their bets and thus dull the impact of their work.

Initially silly, but ultimately an intriguingly feminist take by Naomi Wolf on Angelina Jolie as an archetype of having it all: a woman who manages to be respected both for being sexual and for being a symbol of goodness and a "dream figure that allows women to access, through fantasies of their own, possibilities for their own heightened empowerment and liberation."

I have one word for these ads from The Illusionists' Dept. of Sexist Ads: Appalling!

Has woman-bashing become an American pastime? That's the headline and the topic of this article. In light of the article cited in the next paragraph and many, many others, I'm inclined to dispute only the use of the word "become" - there's nothing new about woman-bashing.

Sexism and one-size-fits-all thinking at its worst: an article that attempts to cloak motherhood in the usual reverent swaddling, the choice not to be a mother in shrouds of selfish oddity, and the choice of employers to discriminate against a group of women based on their personal lives in glittering robes of good sense. Disgusting and utterly wrong-headed, says this "VERY outspoken mother (and ex-boss)."

Dell evidently believes that marketing to women as if it's 1959 is a good idea. Apparently, this is not a joke. But Dell soon will be if it keeps offering up such condescending crap.

Not sure why this would surprise anyone, but evidently the new Star Trek movie, whatever its merits, is the same-ol', same-ol' with respect to its portrayal of women. Jennifer Weiner notes in this post that "every single lady on screen was either a mother, a ho, or an intergalactic hood ornament."

Witty post from the Aliiance of Women Film Journalists on the sad state of affairs for women in the motion picture biz.

Sexism rears its ugly head - and not in the way you might think - as we seek to fill Justice Souter's Supreme Court seat. Here is a thoughtful and well-written post on a truly outrageous new attempt to discredit powerful women. As Professor Campos writes, "For some men, the only thing more intolerable than the sight of a powerful woman is the sight of a powerful woman they don’t want to sleep with."

Rest in peace, Marilyn French. You made a huge and positive difference.

This article on filling the Supreme Court position left open by Justice Souter's retirement is obviously intended to be even-handed and complimentary regarding the positive impact of women on the Court. But something about it bugs me anyway. Maybe it's the assumption that all women would vote a certain way on certain issues, as if we don't have individual minds of our own. Maybe it's the fact that naming a woman to the Court is still a big deal, just like yesterday's announcement of the first female poet laureate in the 400-year history of that position. I wonder if we'll ever evolve to the point where difference is just different, as opposed to better or worse or frightening.

The results of this study give yet another layer of meaning to the term "fat cat." Evidently, overweight men are rewarded in the business world, while overweight women are penalized.

The casual, beside-the-point sexism that characterizes the media's depiction of women - and likely underpins the way all but the most staunchly independent of thinkers sees women - seems both omnipresent and never-ending. Here's a post from Womenkind on the impact of portraying First Ladies as "pretty preeners."

This kind of sexist hooey is ridiculous, self-limiting, deeply misogynistic, and entirely false.  It has never been necessary for women to choose all things personal over all things career in order to be happy. Nor has it ever been necessary to choose all things career over all things personal in order to be successful.  It's not a question of "societal support" either. We live in an "and world," not an "or world." It is absolutely possible to blend work, love and family into a satisfying, rewarding, productive life. Clear priorities and an honest, personal definition of success are all it now takes, and all it took 25 years ago (when I made my choices), to be fulfilled as a wife, a mother and a successful, respected career woman.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this article on "Hollywood's New Power Posse," a group of female screenwriters including Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning writer of Juno.  My daughter articulated it perfectly for me. As she said, "they seem a little...girly...but they are definitely loyal to each other and definitely breaking ground in their industry."  Exactly.  Good for them!  (This subsequent article articulates some of what set my teeth on edge about the Power Posse article.)

This is a well-written post on a simply disgusting Men's Health article.

I'm not sure this article tells us much of anything, but if it does, it's that the child-raising & caretaking aspects of work-life balance are becoming men's issues, too.

In case you needed any further evidence that the Vatican lacks even the most remote of clues where women's nature and rights are concerned, check this out.

Among the worst examples of misogynistic gender bias are advertisements, articles and other items that purport to honor or support women, but feature a strong and unmistakably demeaning undercurrent. Here from Womenkind is a post about a couple of truly appalling Tampax ads. In fewer than 60 seconds, the ads manage to portray women as giggly, possibly unbalanced morons and "Mother Nature" as a silly, hostile, badly dressed meddler. Ick! 

Well, here's an article I didn't expect from the headline "What Modern Men Want in Women." I was already cringing as I clicked. Note to self: stop judging articles by their headlines (and, in this case, their sexist first paragraph, too). 

Thought-provoking article about the impact on gender issues of a bad economy.  In recessions, apparently the percentage of families supported by women tends to rise, in part because fields like education and health care, which are staffed more by women, are not as affected by layoffs as predominantly male-staffed industries like manufacturing and construction.  The article theorizes that a "deep and prolonged recession, therefore, may change not only household budgets and habits; it may also challenge longstanding gender roles." That's fine by me, especially if one of the changes is, as the article suggests, a more equal approach to allocating responsibility for doing or outsourcing household tasks.

Not sure what to make of the phenomenon described in this post on "The Female-Male Higher Education 'Degree Gap.'"

Excellent Adweek article by Kristi Faulkner on the really rather incredible scorning of 40 million women by Super Bowl advertisers. Is sexism so deeply embedded in the brains of the people who develop, market, buy and broadcast these ads that even the $7 trillion women spend annually cuts no ice?

All I can add to this well written piece by Sarah Seltzer is a heartfelt Yikes! re: all the examples and an even more heartfelt Yes! to our having "voted out the old guard of sexist politicians."

Take that, PETA! One of my characters in A Merger of Equals gripes about how commercials seem to feel obligated to portray women as either maids, mommies or sex kittens. Women's rights blogger Jen Nedeau wrote this letter to PETA about the now-rejected Super Bowl Ad PETA submitted.  Best line: "Just like the animals you want to protect, we are more than just a piece of 'meat.'"

Is it disgusting that books like this - which evidently portray women as twits on an endless and singular mission to snare men, and men as shallow, manipulable putty - continue to get written and published?  Or is it just me?

Excellent, thought-provoking and sadly shocking article about the perceived need to put Michelle Obama in the unthreatening "mom box" so as to avoid the negative press that will come (and has come) from people who perceive "strong" to be a synonym for "angry."  Fascinating commentary, too, about the combination of gender and racial stereotypes she faces.

And in a shocking example of how desperately dumb some people apparently think women are (or should pretend to be), here's a revolting story.  It's written, I'm sorry to say, by a woman, and she evidently thinks she can hide her deeply misogynistic message by giving it a humorous "here's what NOT to do" spin.  This rubbish is offensive to men, to women, and to elderly aunts.  (Be sure to note with glee that it's written and edited so carelessly that Aunt Esther in the second paragraph becomes Aunt Sophie in the last.)

In a dazzling display of "let's do more of what doesn't work" and "which came first, the chicken or the egg," this story suggests that companies may respond to the economic downturn by making the glass celing thicker.  Research suggests women are better suited to lead modern organizations, but companies worried about succeeding in a recession might adopt a short-term view that reinforces the hierarchy of so-called "male traits."  Male traits are listed - annoyingly - as "extraversion, decisiveness, persuasiveness, leadership, strategic thinking, results-focus and autonomy."  Be sure to keep reading (or skimming) to the bottom for a short-sighted and controversial study conclusion.

I have a wide variety of reactions to this article about appearance being more important to a woman in the public eye than to a man, but I can't argue with the underlying truth of the assertion.  In any event, here is a better, and funnier take on the whole Palin wardrobe fiasco.   

Apparently, October 20-24 is National Business Women's Week.  And it has been for the last 70 years since President Herbert Hoover designated it.  Who knew? Here's a blurb about it, along with some facts and figures about women in the labor force, and here's the official National Business Women's Week website.

This is a marginally interesting, if self-congratulatory on the part of the columnist, look back at work-life balance and opt-out issues over the last nine years.  More nostalgic than penetrating, the article concludes that there are more questions than answers - a conclusion I find silly and off-the-mark, unless of course one defines "answers" to mean "one-size-fits-all silver bullets."

Here's a story I found very interesting, if outlandish.  I like the author's assertion that Obama and Palin are the compelling candidates because Americans are tired of "the white male monopoly on party tickets."  I hope that's true.  And I'm certain the author is correct when he writes that fear of change is what's causing some of the naysayers in both cases to resort to racism or sexism, respectively, to attack the candidates' characters.  Anyone who has striven to succeed in an environment where he or she is not the "norm" has experienced that sort of attack.   

It's hard to escape criticism on at least some front when you're an intelligent, strong woman - all the more so when you're about to become First Lady.  Here's a stimulating article about both why Michelle Obama might be a bit angry and why she might not.

Some interesting commentary on men's and women's differing work styles.  Apparently, there's a whole discipline called "gender science."

This article offers thoughtful commentary on how and why Hillary Clinton's bid for the nomination fell short, but nevertheless paved the way for future female presidential candidates.

Billed as "CNN correspondents discuss their experiences as working mothers," this piece is disappointing. I can't help but wonder how edited the comments are. For presumably intelligent journalists, these working mothers have very shallow things to say.

Well, here's a depressing bit of news. Evidently, women who practice in law firms for five or more years are still 13% less likely to make partner than men, even when their qualifications are equal and they don't have kids. The study group is small and I imagine 13% less likely is an improvement over the disparity in prior decades, but the likely reasons offered in the article are the same ol', same ol'.

You have to forgive the title, which manages to be both ungrammatical and sexist, but the article is interesting: Great Jobs That Profit Women: Five Flexible Careers with Man-Sized Paychecks.

This list of 75 skills every man should master may or may not be intended as a joke, but either way it's hilarious. And it offers a few tips men and women will find useful.

I doubt the phenomenon described in this article actually occurs often enough to be considered a trend, but the notion of forming executive-level SWAT teams out of "Smart Women with Available Time" - i.e., high-powered career women who left the workforce voluntarily to be stay-at-home moms - is a great idea. Can't quite understand, though, why these women would be under-charging so dramatically.

Why, I wonder, does Danica Patrick's first IndyCar win need to be "put in perspective" and given such grudging praise, as it is in this column? Even this gushier and more positive take on the win is still, sadly, pretty sexist.

I don't love the labels "Girlfriends' Getaways" or "All-Girl Getaways," but, call them what you will, apparently they're very in. According to this article, they're also evidence of a cultural shift.

Having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women, according to a University of Michigan study. Why is this such a popular topic for studies?? (See below for more.)

Here's a somewhat over-congratulatory article on changes over the past decades in how much men and women, respectively, do around the house. Here's the bottom line (which is nearly at the bottom of the article): "In the U.S., time-use diary studies show that since the '60s, men's contribution to housework doubled from about 15 percent to more than 30 percent of the total. Over the same period, the average working mother reduced her weekly housework load by two hours." Doubling a contribution is great, but when the starting point was 15%, there's still a ways to go.

This doesn't really have anything to do with gender issues, but I had to post it anyway so I could note how bizarre survey topics and survey results often are. Two questions begged by the study: if you make yourself buy more sneakers, will you develop leadership qualities; and what on earth do the polar opposite of sneakers - i.e., foot- and back-breaking stilettos - say about the women who wear them?

It's fashionable to complain about the supposed entitlement mentality, self-absorption and other perceived shortfalls of Gen Y-ers, but this article asserts that the members of this generation aren't that different from everyone else - and that blithely lumping them together is counterproductive from a management standpoint.

Here's some evidence that successful consulting businesses sometimes rely on selling the obvious. This article about work-life balance coaches suggests that the key to making balance work is "using exceptional credentials and skills as leverage to broker flexible work arrangements." You think?

Here's a fascinating article from the New York Times called "Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales." Click here for a blog post with my commentary on it.

Proving, I suppose, that gender discrimination is more acceptable in our culture than race discrimination, apparently pollsters are finding it difficult to measure the race between Clinton and Obama in part because, regardless of how voters might actually feel, "it appears easier for [them] to say they won't vote for a woman because of gender, than it is for them to say they won't vote for a man because of his race."

Here's an article from Cuba on the need to involve men in gender equality discussions and efforts. I'm intrigued by the circularity of stereotypes and social constructions noted in the article, and also, as one quoted person put it, by the way "50 years of socialism is nothing compared to 500 years of patriarchal Judeo-Christian acculturation."

A wonderful screenplay wins the Oscar for writing (click here to read my complaints about the last couple winners) and, of course, the media can't wait to slam its female writer. As noted just below, disparate standards indeed.

Here's an article on the disparate standards of media coverage for male and female "celebrities in distress." Amusingly and annoyingly, the article has more than its share of self-serving "it's about demographics, not sexism" justification.

I tripped over this story on my way to the crossword in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Normally, I'd skip right past something called "Cybercourting." Starting with the fake word and ending with the likely sappiness or sexism of its content, the story didn't seem like something for me. But it caught my attention from the first line and I kept reading. Maybe it's because The Sound and the Fury is also one of my favorite books, but the article touched me. It's a beaut - lovely, honest, nicely written, and not the slightest bit sexist.

Evidently, the Middle Ages are still alive and well in at least one spot in the U.S. Here's a story about a referee who was barred from officiating a basketball game because the school in question "does not allow women to hold positions of authority."

OK, this kind of thing drives me crazy. The whole notion that a subjective study of a mere 1,000 women could justify a headline like "Pregnancy Does Cause Memory Loss" is offensive, sexist, demeaning and stupid. Not to mention wrong.

Here's another article, this one by Gloria Steinem, on the different impacts of race and gender in the political context. She expands on the point made by Marie Wilson (linked two paragraphs below), and makes a number of additional points about the evidently more deep-seated nature of gender bias as compared to race bias in the American electorate. I'm also intrigued by the idea that women are the one group that gets more radical with age - says a lot about the cumulative impact of sexism over time, doesn't it?

Men, women, politics, tears and double standards. This article is a fascinating example of how people tend to see what they're looking for and what they expect. Do our predispositions make it impossible for us to perceive objective reality at all? Or is there no objective reality, but only our perceptions? Click here for a related blog post.

Marie Wilson is a passionate, intelligent and inspirational feminist. (I had the pleasure of hearing her speak once and she was great.) Her many accomplishments include the founding of The White House Project, the co-creation of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and the development and introduction (with Mattel) of President Barbie. Here's her reaction to what the Iowa Caucus results say about race, gender and class. I think she's right on the money when she notes that a woman with Barack Obama's youth and relative inexperience wouldn't have a shot in hell at the nomination.

Here's a take on gender issues that strikes me as largely wishful thinking. Gender discrimination is at heart about ingrained ideas and the use and abuse of power. While it's certainly true that some gender issues disappear with success, I bet Kiran would find no shortage of them were she to try to move into an arena where her particular power doesn't carry the sway it carries at the company she created. (Politics, perhaps? Follow the link in the above paragraph and read Marie Wilson's thoughts about the continued existence of gender discrimination especially at top levels.)

This news falls under the category of "D'uh!" but I guess it's good whenever the benefits of flexibility at work get more press - and not as only a women's issue.

I can't think of anything non-sarcastic to say in introduction of this Q&A with Suzy Welch (wife of Jack Welch) on the gender-neutrality of success skills, so I'll just post it without further comment.

Another intriguing article about reactions to Hillary Clinton's campaign in which women disapprove of playing the gender card, then offer a variety of personal experiences and commentary that make it crystal clear that gender is still a huge issue in most arenas.

This article describes the "minimal and uneven" progress in the advancement of women to top leadership positions at Chicago's 50 largest public companies, as measured by The Chicago Network's 2007 Census Report.

Interesting blog post by Ellen Bravo on what she calls the opt-out myth.

Fun article with some excellent suggestions for coping with people, including bosses, who want to encroach on your personal time. I like the idea that your personal time can and should be yours - an idea that too often falls by the wayside as people misunderstand the true nature of career success. But that doesn't mean that work and life can't or shouldn't be blended; as this article points out, blurring the boundaries and blending all the aspects of your life is a wonderful way to achieve balance.

There's a lot to be uncomfortable about in this article. I'm hoping it's just more media bashing (bad enough, but better than if what the article says is actually true). Can it possibly be that men and women still fall into such traditional, silly and limiting stereotypes where money, ambition and looks are concerned? Or is it not so much still and more anew? (I also have to note my disapproval of the article's insulting characterization of what Hillary Clinton "may" be hoping for in the way of queen bees and male slaves. That kind of misogynistic cheap shot is exactly what I decried here - despicable and utterly uncalled-for.)

Say it ain't so, Joe! Apparently, gender discrimination raises its ugly head in the context of coffee shop service, despite the economics of competition, which, as the article points out, should tend to erode discrimination.

Oh, boy! This article is a fascinating, disturbing addition to the study of how differently the media approaches portraying men and women. Where's the bashing here? Where's the "this couldn't possibly be good parenting?" baloney that would inevitably be included in any such article about a mother with six kids who also has a demanding career?

In country music, the more things change, the more they apparently remain the same. The parallels to corporate America, politics, sports, etc. are inescapable. The names may change (slightly), but the faces are, as usual, white and male.

This article talks about entrepreneurship among the younger set. The good news is the increase in women entrepreneurs in the last year, but the article also offers some in my opinion incorrect commentary about the reasons that nearly three times as many men as women start businesses. The suggestion that this is because women "aren't as aggressive" is, I think, merely sexist drivel. (Check out this blog post for more on that.) The far more likely explanation is the continuing domination in the business world of traditional male players, protocols and rules. Setting up your own business is a tough gig under any circumstances; it's got to be even more difficult, as well as more daunting, when you don't look like an entrepreneur from central casting and probably don't have access to big-time networks, financing and other resources. Also, don't I recall reading years ago that women-owned businesses employ more people than the Fortune 500 companies combined? So what kind of entrepreneurs are we lauding here? The ones who succeed in the ways the traditionally male business world finds impressive?

This is an article about writing, but in the particular context of the cultural framework that causes many women to be self- deprecating, even self-negating.

Here's an article on recent gender equality and work-life balance initiatives by the Japanese government in response to perceived needs to increase women's participation in the workforce and to curb traditionally long hours.

Very interesting New York Times article on a so-called “happiness gap” between women and men. According to time-use data, since the 1960s men have “cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They work less and relax more.” The same data shows that, while women aren’t working more than they were 30-40 years ago, they’re doing different kinds of work. We’ve replaced housework with paid work, but, unlike men, we haven’t reduced the time we spend on activities we don’t enjoy. Frankly, I think complexity characterizes women’s lives for both internal and external reasons – and not just because dusty houses bug us more than they bug men. (This complexity notion comes up several times in A Merger of Equals.)

Here's an interesting take on the relative value of an MBA in the context of smart young people making money fast (for various purposes, some noble, some merely greedy). The educational value of the MBA doesn't get much play (intriguingly), but even its value as a necessary badge gets called into question.

Here's a superb story on diversity, grit, being who you are and overcoming adversity - all in the context of college football. I recommend reading the whole article (it may be the only 11-page online story I've ever read start to finish), but here's one excerpt:

"I've got two choices," he says. "I can sit back and say everything's against me, I'm going in the tank. Or I can accept the hand that's been dealt me and move forward. I never think about why? or why me? I never second-guess it. I forget about what happened three seconds ago. People ask me what I did last night. I can't remember. They think I'm joking. Every second you think about the past is a second when you can't think about the future, about controlling what you can control. That gives other people an opportunity to control your life. You control your life. You have to control the world. You can never let it control you.


Women (including in A Merger of Equals) frequently say this, but here's a man - and a celebrity at that - verifying that the combination of children and work makes for greater efficiency:

Brad Pitt, 43, ... said that having a family has also helped his career.

"It makes me much more efficient," he says, "because that's the main focus. It makes me feel when I do have time to work, I really do have to focus because there is a really short window to get something done. I am quite pleased by it all." Quote is from PEOPLE magazine online, 9/3/07

Lest you think sexism isn't alive and well, here's a disgusting article purporting to tell women how to dress for interviews. It's misguided in too many ways to count, but I'll content myself with mentioning that "peep-toe shoes" and "short skirts and high heels" are still the wrong choices if your goal is to look like a capable business person rather than a potential date. Click here for some better advice.

Apropos of a discussion that occurs in Chapter 19 of A Merger of Equals, click here for an interesting article from The New York Times entitled "Wedded to Work, and in Dire Need of a Wife."

Here's an article about the growing number of companies offering mothers ways to balance family and work.

Here's Working Mother magazine's listing of the "2007 Best Law Firms for Women" - proof that flexibility is available even in the unlikeliest of work environments.

Intriguing story on gender issues and their import in the 2008 presidential race.

Gender bias starts young. Here's a link to several articles about gender representation in children's literature and why it's significant to the development of both boys and girls.

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