There's a huge market for telling women how to be happier. Maybe it's because women read more than men. Or maybe it's the discrepancy that women know when they are overweight and men don't. Or the discrepancy that most men think they are good parents and most women think they need to be better parents. The list goes on and on, in a glass-half-empty kind of way.
In general, I think the strength of women is that they see things more clearly. Yes, it's a glass-half-empty world for women, compared to men, but women should leverage their stronger grip on reality. So here's my contribution to women and clarity. I am debunking five totally annoying pieces of advice I hear people give women all the time.
1. Take a look at the lists of best companies for women to work for
This is an advertising ploy, not a plan for you to run your life. Every single time there's a list like this, women write to me from the companies on the list to tell me how much they suck for women. But it's not like I need those emails. I can just look at senior management, which is almost always all men, and see that corporate careers are set up for a one kind of life: very focused, no other interests, except, maybe, oneself. And this is not all that appealing to most women.
So you can forget the lists. The bar is so low to get on the lists that which company is on and which company is off is statistically irrelevant to women planning their careers.
2. Get a book deal that lets you write about men you admire
Yes, it is exciting to get a book deal, but why do women spend years writing books that fawn over the men they work with? are by women I admire, and I can't get over that they spent years researching and reporting on men doing what, in fact, these women would probably like to be doing themselves. Why not just dump the book idea and do the cool jobs you write about instead of pretending you're not interested in that?
If you want to get paid to write about men, aspire to be Mary Gaitskill.
3. Marry a stay-at-home dad to give you more space to grow your career
Based on my own experience and some research I don't believe men are happy in this role. Please, stay-at-home dads, do not write to me to say you're happy. I understand that there are exceptions to this rule, and also that all those exceptions happen to be blogging. But on balance, I find that stay-at-home dads are actually talking about some other project they are doing that is either a) BS and then they are in denial that they are totally lost or b) not BS and then they are not stay-at-home dads but rather dads with flexible work schedules.
Meanwhile, no matter how much money a woman makes, most women try to find a guy who earns more than she does. So whether or not it’s good for your career is a moot point; be true to yourself and admit you don’t want a stay-at-home husband.
4. Join an all-women networking group
Women are less connected in the world than men are. Men do not drop out of work during their highest earning potential years to take care of kids. So they have better connections. And, in my own work experience, men have been extremely helpful. So why would you go to a group that self-selects for people with fewer connections? There are a million ways to slice the world for networking potential — by location, by interest, by experience, by goals. Why would you do it by sex?
More importantly, it's clear that women are not particularly supportive of each other. Everyone is competitive, but there are more problems between two women than between two men or between a man and a woman.
I would like to tell you that this is outdated research and that with the post-feminist generation women are not so back-stabbing to each other. But it's not true. Anne Manci”?s at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater finds that the culture in the top ranks is still disturbingly slanted toward women taking down the best women. (Thanks for the link, Kristine.)
5. Don't cry at work
Newsflash. Women cry a lot and men don't. So let's just stop telling women to be men at work. No point. People who do best in their careers are people who are their true selves.
And, I have first-hand research on this topic, because I have cried at all levels of my career. To be fair, I cry mostly when I have PMS. But whatever. PMS is just your body telling your brain that you need to start crying about the stuff that you've been ignoring all month.
Here's the big secret about crying though. Men who are secure with themselves and their position in the world actually deal with women crying just fine. So any guy at work who cannot deal with you crying needs to get some therapy in order to be more self-assured. You, on the other hand, are doing just fine with those workplace tears.