Common Sense: Men & Women: From Cave to Corporation II

Again, let me just point out that this is a continuation of last week’s post.  I am not trying to talk about the differences between men and women here so much as answer the question that was asked:  Why are men failing in our culture while women are succeeding?

Getting Jobs: For more than a year, I have been part of and helped out with a transitional support group at church designed to help people who have become unemployed in this economy.  These sorts of groups, mostly in churches, have been springing up all over the country in the past few years.  In a recent meeting of our group, these were the summary statements.

The (male) director of the program:  “One thing that has come out strong from all of our speakers has been networking, networking, networking.  In this day, networking (relationship building) is the key to job search success.”

The (female) speaker (expert):  “Relationship building is what business is all about these days.  Join professional organizations and get to know people already doing the job you want.”

The (male) speaker:  “Businesses are no longer interested in your skills and experiences.  That is all the past.  Business want to know what your potential is—what you can do for them in the future, whether you have direct experience or not.”

The (female) human resources director: “These days you have to compartmentalize your search.  No more than 1-2 hours applying on the internet, 1-2 hours networking, 1-2 hours in volunteer work which is a kind of networking, 1-2 hours mailing, tweaking your resume, thank you notes, on the phone, etc.”

Consensus:  It isn’t what you know (very male) or even who you know (female) but who knows you and what you can do (more neutral, but still on the relational side).

You see, these days just to get a job you need to build relationships (network).  Experience and skills (facts) are less important than potential (process).  Compartmentalization and a strong ability to multi-task is important, and getting in with the right people who know you have potential.  A woman who has not worked in 20 years can get a job over a man with 20 years experience if she makes the right connections and he follows the old apply, resume, interview path.

To be clear, most men don’t even want people to know they are out of work.  Self-worth is in being needed!  Women are on the phone while the pink slip is still hot in their hands.  Self-worth is in being wanted.  And while the phone call may be to a friend in search of some support for her own sense of self-worth, it is the beginning of the process of making connections and landing that next job.

On the Job:  There is no doubt our current corporate culture favors the strengths of women.  Women are content to make their contribution, the work doesn’t have to be vital, and a modicum of appreciation goes a long way.  The only problems women face on the job invariably comes from other women and those problems might not have anything directly to do with the job. 

Consider the traditional women-heavy occupations.  Outside of teaching and nursing, there is no job that requires more multi-tasking and cooperative skills than secretary—and don’t think for a second that these became women-heavy jobs by some social custom or cultural accident.

 Corporate offices these days, though often still formally divided into departments, have become more like giant “secretarial” kind of operations than anything else.  This is especially true as company organizations have moved away from the strict hierarchy model and into the more cooperative model.  The skills needed by the modern corporation are precisely those that women bring: compartmentalization, multi-tasking, relationship building in problem solving.

Men, to the contrary, are most often frustrated by corporate culture.  They don’t have the political acumen so vital for success in the modern office.  They are there to work, whatever that means, not to build relationships and make friends.  They like a solid task, one where they can feel they are making a difference, not just making a contribution.  And most hate cooperative group projects just as much as they did when they were kids.  But for the most part these are not options in the corporate office.  Instead, the message is again loud and clear:  You can be replaced.  You are not needed.

“Oh yeah?  Well I quit.”

“Good, because Margaret wants your job.”

Working:  The bigger companies get, the more men appear to be cut off from the central authorities.  But the appearance can be deceiving, because there are many areas in life where men can and are succeeding.

Said occupations play to men’s strengths:  Teamwork with clearly defined leadership (chain of command) not cooperative (collective) group think.  A strong focus on the task, no matter how complex that task might be, where end results are valued, not simply the process.  Where every men in the team is considered vital, not simply a team player, but a necessary part of the whole success.  Where men are given the opportunity to think creatively which is very anti-corporate culture.  Understand:  women also think creatively when given the chance, but most often, women seek ways to enhance and improve the process.  Men most often seek ways to improve the results.

Consider the traditional men-heavy occupations, and again, don’t think these came about because of some freak accident.  Men work very well in these areas:  Skilled trades (carpentry, plumbing, etc.), as entrepreneurs, in the professions (Doctor, lawyer, minister, etc.), in science related professions such as research, as professors, small business owners, salesmen.  Where the business is one on one (doctor-patient, salesman-buyer) men perform very well.  And then there is soldier and football player, where there is clearly defined leadership (chain of command) and teamwork not “group work” men succeed.  Men drill for oil, fly planes, design and build skyscrapers, own and run restaurants.  Men are designed to accomplish a mission and thereby save the world.  That is how men think.

Where men are failing is in the political, relational, multi-tasking, compartmentalized world of big business.  Sure a Maverick investor like Trump or Buffett can make Billions.  A man who pursues his ideal to the end goal (a very male approach) like Gates or Jobs or Sam Walton can also make Billions.  But business, as currently working in our culture, in the multi-national corporate world, there ought to be more women than men.  Women are suited for it.  Men are not. 

The creative artists who script, animate, color, make the music, dialogue, and finish and cut the film for Disney may be male or female, but as for marketing and distribution, leave that to the women.  They know how to network.  Men (generally) don’t.

A last note:  No one likes the assembly line.  Daily, repetitive work is both mind numbing and soul killing.  As valuable as the assembly line has been for productivity and subsequent wealth, it plays to no one’s strengths.  The faster lines can be automated and robotized, the better—in my opinion.  I just had to throw that in………..

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