5 Career tips women should run from

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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? Here are some books 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 research 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.

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  1. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    This essay makes several very good points.
    However, I’d add a caveat to the fifth point. There are different kinds of crying. Crying because of something going wrong in your personal life or because of something stressful is acceptable. Crying in order to manipulate others and get your way is completely unacceptable.

    • workinglady
      workinglady says:

      I had a coworker cry during one meeting because she was getting frustrated dealing with some work issues. I didn’t feel sorry for her, I felt manipulated and thought she was a psycho. Pick your crying, ladies!

      • thatgirlinnewyork
        thatgirlinnewyork says:

        hmm. that’s akin to saying, “man up!” perhaps she had more reasons to cry than you know, or that she may have revealed to her. i doubt that if she was truly crying due to frustration with work issues that she intended to manipulate you. perhaps look into why you felt that way.

  2. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    This advice really resonates with me. Thank you for a great post!

    I’ve never actually seen anyone give the advice in point 2 though. I agree that it happens but I’m sure that it’s something women are advised to do. I’d love more info if I’m wrong.

    @JimC I agree with you but in my experience women do not often cry in order to manipulate others – they cry because something is stressful and sometimes it gets interpreted as manipulative.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      I have seen women cry on purpose to try manipulate men into doing what they want. It’s a really sucky thing to do because most people see right though it and it gives anyone who cries at work a bad reputation. I would guess though that these women don’t get very far when it comes to a career, so they get weeded out pretty fast. They aren’t the kind of people anyone wants to work with. A good sign that the crying is to manipulate instead of from stress is when they make a big deal out of it. “You made me CRY!”

      I also second the points people are making about crying to express anger because women aren’t supposed to be angry. The only times I’ve cried at work have been when I was REALLY pissed. When I feel it coming on, I just remove myself from the situation as quickly as I can.

    • E.D.
      E.D. says:

      I agree with Caitlin about crying. The only time I came close to crying at work, I was pissed off and knew I couldn’t yell or swear. I got out of the situation as quickly as possible.

    • Polly Williams
      Polly Williams says:

      Men are more successful because they save tears for private. Nobody likes a sobbing female. Truth be known, if you were to ask anyone how they react to a female crying they would probably want to gouge out the offending blubberer’s eyeballs.

  3. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    I can’t speak for all women, but I know that when I have cried at work, it is because what I’m feeling is actually anger–and there are very few socially acceptable ways for women to express anger. In the end, though, I’ve chosen to try to express my anger for what it is, and to do so in a way that communicates my feelings without blowing up. Because anger is just an emotion, and why am I supposed to limit myself to only some of the emotions that all people feel?

    It’s a vicious circle. We’re not allowed to be angry, because that’s bitchy, so we sublimate that. However, if that comes out as tears, we’re weak. My conclusion long ago was that I’d rather be bitchy than weak. Does that mean I never cry? Of course not. But it means that I have less need to, because I’ve given myself permission to have a broader range of expression. I wish more women did this. It might help make crying a non-issue.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is a really important point. Women getting angry at work is perceived in a much more negative light than men getting angry at work.

      So for women, crying as an expression of anger is a smarter move than having a loud outburst as an expression of anger.


      • KateNonymous
        KateNonymous says:

        I agree–which is why when I do express anger, I try to do it without blowing up. And generally anger builds, so if I start expressing it early, I’m better able to remain calm.

      • Froggylou2
        Froggylou2 says:

        This is so true! For me, I was taught not to cry, but then I became incredibly pissed off at work at few times. It was either blow up or let a few tears roll out. I chose tears.

    • Lane
      Lane says:

      This is exactly it. When I feel I’m being marginalized by the men I work “with”, I tend to get frustrated and sometimes cry. This is deemed as me “taking things too seriously” and “being too emotional.”

      The times I remain calm and direct, I’m accused of lying and insubordination. I have communication issues and my memory of events is considered “faulty” if it doesn’t match up with theirs.

      Yeah, it’s an abusive relationship, but I still HAVE a job. That’s saying something, right?

  4. Susan
    Susan says:

    At least in all-women networking situations the meat market vibe is diminished so you don’t have to wonder if someone is going to ask you on a date or offer you a job.

  5. Livia Labate
    Livia Labate says:

    Good points. I particularly support #4; it’s pointless to focus networking in those terms. Relevant networking comes from like interests and opportunities, not the fact that people have the same sex. Specially women (as you point out).

    When I was younger I never worried about how my career might be impacted by the fact that I am a woman. These days I see some of the challenges more clearly. I have, however, found a perfect solution for the personal/family support issue. Marry another woman. I know many men who empathize with women’s concerns and issues, but no man will “get it” quite like your wife. :)

  6. V Sellers
    V Sellers says:

    What if you’re a dude who has cried at work? Is it bad that I used to take breaks and go sit behind a tree and cry? Personally, I’ve worked with women nearly my entire career and I’m the only one who is ever crying at work.

  7. jenx67
    jenx67 says:

    I think I said this the last time. I can tell you put a lot of time into your posts – like you reference in your blog guide – the time you take to build the links. I visit them all. I’ve never heard of Mary Gatskill or Tim Ferriss. I think I might be living under a rock. So, most of what you write I find very helpful. Your stuff moves me down the road, and I guess when I read posts like this I feel less alone.

  8. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I agree with all the points, as they ressonate with my personal experience. However, I’d add a caveat to the issue of women’s only network groups. While I’d strongly recommend that all women join any network group that makes sense to them, especially those that include well connected men and women, I’d also recommend trying an all women’s one particularly in a male-dominated industry.

    I belong to one and gain so much from it professionally.

    The advantages: (a) less of a meat market as mentioned above. But also (b) a chance to build confidence doing networking things, which you can apply to the broader male-dominated networking situations; (c) an opportunity to learn from people who have to overcome similar obstacles as you. And, (d) if you’re more senior in the industry, a chance to help younger women succeed which makes you feel good, and helps with confidence too.

  9. Susan
    Susan says:

    Finally! Thanks for this post, I’m glad to see those ‘best companies for women to work for’ lists are all really just bs.

    I cry when I’m extremely angry, and also when I’m really stressed. So I have cried in front of a few bosses. Most of them were enlightened enough to understand that crying is just a reaction to something, and not your identity.

    I’ve been getting crap from men since I worked at Chic-Fil-A and despite the fact that I was faster in the kitchen than any of the guys, they always forced me to do the register and look cute for the customers. In the meantime, all the guys would look at our butts through the sandwich shoots while they worked in the kitchen.

    But it’s life. Post-feminist or not, men and women are treated differently at work and I’m tired of people telling me otherwise.

  10. The Office Newb
    The Office Newb says:

    In regards to #1, I say ignore all lists of ‘best places to work.’ They are all just marketing ploys. I used to work for a company that was perpetually making these lists and it was more an example of how great our PR lady was than how good a company we were. People were leaving left and right because of poor leadership, but our PR lady would practically brow-beat us to vote in these surveys so that our company would win “best workplace” contests. They would even go so far as to post “Don’t forget to vote!” posters in each bathroom stall!

  11. Allison
    Allison says:

    Thank you for the post. I have cried a few times at work due to anger at the situation. I then get extreamly embarrassed after the fact because I know others can see it as weak. Are there any tips you have about how to stop the crying, if you feel it is going to start, at work? Walk out of the meeting to collect yourself?

  12. Dan
    Dan says:

    Cry away, but not in front of colleagues. Publicly losing emotional control, whether it’s crying or an obscenity-laced tirade, will hurt your career. Maybe not today or the next day, but it leaves the impression that you can’t function under stress. Suck it up and cry later in the bathroom.

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      (a) Ah, that everyone could always control the timing their emotional outbursts, of which crying is one.

      (b) The after-effects of crying are, on many of us, perfectly obvious. Not sure what the real difference is.

      • Barbara
        Barbara says:

        So wear powder and powder the cheeks.IF anyone asks, say you have allergies. And if you can’t control your emotions long enough to get to the loo, you need another job or maybe therapy.

  13. Grace Judson
    Grace Judson says:

    All-women networking groups are a very mixed bag. In general, I agree that many aren’t my cup of tea, but as several commenters point out, sometimes they’re a safe place for women who aren’t into the networking swing of things yet. Also, as Wendy said, some professional groups are excellent – and often include men in their membership, even though they may be nominally “women-focused.”

    Interestingly, my doctor (wonderful woman who stays really well-connected with current research) told me that women’s brains actually react differently to other women than to men, and also differently than men react to each other. In brief, a woman’s amygdala (fight-or-flight, aggression) actually “lights up” on an MRI when she’s in the presence of other women. So there’s apparently real neurological reasons for the ways in which women tend to tear each other down. (Sorry, the study is still in progress, so I can’t cite it.)

    As I said to her, it’s a sad state of affairs if we can’t override our reptilian brains at this point.

    Great post – thanks!

  14. Paige
    Paige says:

    @KateNonymous- I’m the same way. I have no idea how to handle anger and have barely reached the point of being able to deal with stress. So I cry. But it takes a lot over a long time to get me there, and it’s always the stupid things that set me off.

    Prime Example: Last week, I had just gotten settled into my new apartment, had a huge company meeting, helped with some collateral design on a tight deadline, had to remember to run/strength train so that I’ll be ready for a marathon in April and still had to remember to pay my bills. I got a phone call from the apartment office telling me that my [bitchy/prissy] new upstairs neighbor complained about my dog whining during the day. So I sat in the freight elevator and cried. [Bathroom not private enough.]

    @Allison- I’m with you. I need some guidance on how to fight back the tears, because sometimes I can’t even make it out of my desk before tears are gushing.

    Thanks, Penelope, for addressing that issue. Maybe one day people will really understand how exhausting it is to try to balance all of these things without losing our true selves to the stress.

  15. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    A few years ago I read some research about book discussion groups, and how they tend to be all women. Apparently in coed groups, even if it’s spouses or family members, women were not as open in their discussions of the book. Wish I could cite a source, I think I may have read it in the NY Times. Anyhow, the gist of it was that many women feel more comfortable speaking their minds in the presence of other women. So although you may be in for a back-stabbing catfight, join where you feel most comfortable.

  16. pragzz
    pragzz says:

    “Hear hear” on the best places to work lists. I couldn’t agree more!

    And on the crying note (which seems to have resonated a lot with women here), I agree with a lot of other women here. It comes out at a point of EXTREME frustration and anger after every other means of expressing these things has failed. And Penelope is right. Men who are secure with themselves and their place in the world react just fine. I’ve learned that a man’s reaction to your tears says a lot about him…no need for women to feel guilty about being normal. I don’t believe in being manipulative, and nor do any of the women who I respect.

    For men or women who think they are being manipulated, there’s no need to be. A man being manipulative with his anger and aggression is no different from a woman doing the same with her tears. Use your head…women are just as transparent and you can easily see through their drama. This I say from experience.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      “It comes out at a point of EXTREME frustration and anger after every other means of expressing these things has failed.”
      I saw this happen to a co-worker of mine at my first job and I didn’t get it at first. She wasn’t trying to manipulate anyone. It was sad really after I finally understood her situation or at least part of it. Men and women are wired differently – another good reason I read this blog.

  17. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    The crying bit is interesting because while I hated when my first boss cried constantly at work, I haven’t been able to refrain from the occasional cry in later positions. I feel crying puts me at a disadvantage, which just makes me more frustrated. I’ve never had a male boss make me feel bad for crying, however.

  18. Maya
    Maya says:


    In Number 5, I believe you should have replaced Crying with “Be Emotional”. I kicked-butt (if I may say so myself ;)) by showing those “super-cool and corporate types” (men and women) that I can do both together – “Think Smart AND Accept my Emotions”. It is truly ONE awesome thing women have that works in their favor – if they tap into it, that is.

    And you are SO right – trying to be a man (something you are not) at work totally messes us up – on the outside and the inside. Nothing scares the living daylight out of people more than “Authenticity”. I have never lost any respect at work for having shed a few tears :)

    And Number 4 is so so true. Great post Penelope!

  19. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Good post.
    A quote from the first link (NPR article) –
    “Girls have an easier time with reading or written work, and it’s not a stretch to extrapolate [that] to adult life,” Brizendine says. Indeed, adult women talk more in social settings and use more words than men, she says.”
    Exceptions exist as they always do.

  20. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    I think it’s interesting that you say women want to find a man who makes more money. That makes sense to me. Until two years ago, my husband made more money than me. Now I do. Not a lot more. But he knows it’s more and it really bothers him. Not because he wants me barefoot and pregnant, but (I think) it’s because that was his thing. I (like a lot of women) run the show at home. That’s my thing. I’m in charge. He made more money. That was his thing. He was the primary bread winner (even if I was earning bread, too). So I took this spot, even though it doesn’t feel any different to me. But I’m still in charge.

    Often, I kind of wish he’d get a little raise and make a little more than me so he’d feel better. I wonder if that’s why other women want a higher earning spouse. Because THAT’s not an issue. Reverse the roles and it becomes an issue.

  21. Dan Erwin
    Dan Erwin says:

    Pennelope: As a proud dad of 3 fun/outstanding daughters I have to agree strongly with all of your conclusions. But #5 can be the most fun. As a consultant, I’m occasionally in settings where women execs cry. Means zip to me. . . just another fact of human life. What’s fun is how the male execs absolutely go bonkers at tears. Half the time, I just go on with the conversation or whatever. Eventually one of the guys gets around to asking me how I just waded through the tears. It’s usually instructional–at the level of “what’s the big deal?” Do you usually go bonkers at tears.

    Maybe that’s the best way to face up to the Jihadists? They’re all male.

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      thanks, dan. perhaps that’s a challenge to the men reading–what is it about a woman crying that freaks you out? don’t tell us that it’s about crying not being “appropriate” in the workplace, or disruptive to a domestic dialogue. we’ve established that many women cry for reasons other than to be manipulative, so what is it? column idea?

  22. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:


    Whilst I agree with the logic of avoiding a self-selecting group which is not well-networked, I think you need to update your research on back-stabbing, and women’s and men’s perceptions of women in the workplace.

    If the whole research paper is not your cup of tea, see Herminia Ibarra’s recent research profiled in HBR’s January 2009 issue. She finds more positive developments than ‘the catfight continues’ and explores the ‘visioning’ gap in women’s skill set.

    Oh and on crying in the workplace, I have to disagree. It is far more effective to relate to the group you are with in the language that the group understands. It is not important to behave like they expect your gender to be; it is important to know maturely how to behave in different situations. I once had a great boss, who saw me crying after a frustrating day with manufacturing guys, and on whom, I am sorry to admit, I once chucked a glass of fountain Pepsi in anger. Nothing upset our relationship. In public, we supported each other, no questions asked. He remains a great friend even after 12 years.

    Besides, heard this one?

    To everything, turn, turn, turn..

    A time to be born, a time to die
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    A time to kill, a time to heal
    A time to laugh, a time to weep.

    Works throughout life. Work is no exception.

  23. Raven
    Raven says:

    This is great. However, it’s a shame chicks still need to engage in catfight tactics. It’s sad and a little demoralizing. It only makes me wonder if that’s the reason why my own relationships with women (my age) always end up broken…

  24. Norman
    Norman says:

    I’ve been impressed with the networking groups in which some of my women colleagues participate. They seem to be very helpful in finding new business among them as well as serving as a support group. These groups may not be as effective as the Old Boys Network, but since I don’t belong to an Old Boys Network, it seems like these all-women networking groups serve a real purpose for their members.

  25. alison
    alison says:

    (Here via Twitter)
    I actually attended a women in leadership program a few years ago and found that it was all similar to what’s on this list. It didn’t feel right and I never finished the program.

    Thanks for a great post!

  26. Ann
    Ann says:

    I love #1 on ignore the lists of Best Companies for Women to Work at. I’ve worked at several Fortune 500 companies myself and can easily attest to it. These are the companies where the employees constantly state that they wish they worked at the same company that was written about in the paper or on these lists—when the reality is quite different.

  27. avant garde designer
    avant garde designer says:

    In regards to #4, yes, we women are horrible working with each other. We nitpick, back-stab, gossip and are petty. Instead of joining together and working in a manner beneficial to our gender, we plow ahead individually, against each other, and many times to the detriment of all involved.

    I previously worked in a traditionally male-dominated environment. The few women working there were hired at much lower positions even though many of us did much of the higher positioned men’s work. This was a private, non-profit organization so it could get away with such practices.

    Instead of banding together to better their situation and insist upon fairer practices, each woman fought only for herself. They begrudged any betterment someone else received that they did not. This was particularly true of the women that had worked there for decades. They certainly didn’t want some young, driven woman coming in and achieving something that took them 20-30 years to do, simply because back in their day women just didn’t have the opportunity.

    You may think I’m talking about a job I held a decades ago. Nope. I quit working there just five years ago.

  28. agpc
    agpc says:

    From a male perspective, I have seen women cry at work many times and it does not bother me. As to the issue of whether they are being manipulative, I have not seen that occur or at least never perceived that a woman was crying to be manipulative.

    Usually, it is due to a stressful work situation. Men and women respond differently to external pressures. To ignore this fact is to admit one has zero knowledge of human nature.

    Us males do not always respond well to stress either. For example, one time I witnessed two guys almost fight each other during a revenue sharing disagreement. This occurred off site, they were sales guys, and alcohol was involved, but I have never seen women physically threaten one another. I have seen guys who slam their hands on tables in response to stress. Never seen a woman act in that manner either. Generally, I find women to be harder workers than men but sometimes they get caught up in details without seeing the bigger picture. That is a generalization, but it is based upon my personal observation and experience. I have also noticed that some women just cannot get along with one another at all. I have no idea why, but I have seen it numerous times.

    • KMS
      KMS says:

      Regarding women focusing on details instead of big picture – what I see is that if someone disagrees with a woman’s big picture, she has to have the details down cold to defend it. So women spend more time making sure the details are 100% accurate in case they get attacked later.

      The real challenge is learned how to deal with the attack on your big picture without turning towards the details. When you have to defend yourself with details, you’ve just lost the power battle.

  29. Gib Wallis
    Gib Wallis says:

    Looks like people are focusing on the crying so I’ll add my box of Kleenex – „¢ to the mix.

    The time, place and purpose of crying matter more than crying per se.

    Cry during a meeting when people disagree with you as an underling or influencer without power? Take it to the bathroom or go to the corner for a time out.

    Crying during a meeting because you don’t know what to do and you’re the boss? if you have a supportive team and you inspire them generally, a box of tissue and a moment of quiet is called for.

    Are you the peon who just got peed on within earshot of everyone about the work you have to do in your public cubicle? Cry a little. Go to the bathroom, cry some more. And find a way to get out of there permanently.

    Sometimes crying is a manipulation or a sign of weakness and yeah, men should be cool headed about both of those things at work if they want any sort of success.

  30. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    This post was great! I especially appreciated tip #5. I’ve always been afraid to cry at work and this year it especially took it was especially difficult because I’ve been going through a divorce and trying to be more assertive at work. Neither of which have been easy, but I didn’t want to look weak or make anyone uncomfortable.

  31. Phyllis R. Neill
    Phyllis R. Neill says:

    I blogged about crying at work too (http://www.shementor.com/blog/entry/47547/dont-be-a-crybaby-how-you-ask), and the strongest private feedback I got from women was the “tears of anger, not hurt” point. Interesting that the same comments from women are made here. As a “crybaby” myself, all I’ve ever been successful with are coping mechanisms – NEVER actually preventing myself from actually crying. It’s just how I’m made (and clearly, how a LOT of other women are made, too).

    Phyllis R. Neill

  32. dl
    dl says:

    I don’t see crying as a weakness at all.

    I cry embarrassingly easily. Happy. Sad. Angry. Any of those can set me off. But in reality I’m a very competent and stable person. I’m able to handle difficult situations much easier than many of my counterparts who don’t show emotion. Better yet, I’m often the one who comes up with the solution.

    For some, crying is a necessary release. It’s like taking a long, deep breath.

    • Barbara
      Barbara says:

      Right, but if you’r frequently losing control of your emotions at work, your colleagues are going to wonder why. It seems like an indulgence, and that others are just supposed to observe or tolerate it, and I’m not so sure that you want to be viewed as the emo-chick.

  33. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I just attended a Women’s Affinity Group meeting last week, where they invited several Senior Level Female Executives. They talked to points 4 and 5 specifically, and when asked the majority of them had either no family, or had spouses who had taken a step back (maybe not a atay at home dad, but certainly not career oriented) so that they could be successful in their careers.

    In my opinion the men that I work with have less issue with crying at work than the women. It’s the female management that perpetuates the “no crying at work” rule.

  34. MJ
    MJ says:

    THANK YOU for #4. All women networking groups suck big time in my experience. I’ve attended two and liked neither – one group can’t get along (it’s not about being in business, apparently, it’s about never hurting anyone’s feelings and everyone talking to each other every day and “supporting” each other and discussing their feelings and hugging a lot – ick) and the other is the “low level women’s pretentiousness association” (nuff said). No longer wasting time with either – and you are right. Women aren’t connected enough, and if you spend time in all women’s groups you are spending time with the low end of the employment pool.

    Re backstabbing, I’ve learned recently that expecting women colleagues to do their jobs competently is deemed “backstabbing” while knowing, and covering for, lies and omissions is deemed “supportive” and “being a good friend.” So, guess I’m a female a-hole. And glad of it, if that is how it has to be.

  35. ScottS
    ScottS says:

    A small piece of probably obvious career advice to the other men here: make sure you always have a box of tissues in your office. I’m not flustered by women crying at work, but I am empathetic. I have found that most women greatly appreciate an offer of a box of tissues. It seems to diffuse the situation and show that you understand the need to cry and are willing to accommodate it, rather than try to shut it off. I’m an HR professional, so I probably am in situations that result in more crying than many. But the principle has held when I have been in non-HR positions as well. And I’ve never thought the less of any woman that has cried at work; but I have lost tons of respect for men that have gone on profanity laced tirades in the office.

  36. MJ
    MJ says:

    I’m going to double-comment and add that in all women groups or all women business circles I feel like I have 5 heads. I’m full time and always have been, I work with men, I’ve never for a single moment of my life been of the ‘hugs, phone calls, “OMG are you happy, are you OK, do you want to talk about your feelings?”‘ type of femininity. I’m kind of like a guy with female anatomy. So I’m a square peg and being a square peg sucks too – you don’t fit in with the “OMG let’s talk” women or the men (eew, you aren’t a guy!). So, maybe the female square pegs have even more advice to ignore? I don’t know.

  37. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    @ agcp

    I completely agree with you about women getting more involved in details and not focusing on the big picture. My only regrets in my career so far have to do with paying more attention to the trees and forgetting the forest. I have finally resolved to work smarter not harder going forward.

    Regarding the post from Penelope: I used to hate office politics but now I excel at them and because of that don't see crying as a way to advance my agenda.

  38. Barrister Neko
    Barrister Neko says:

    Good advice, all of it true. I feel especially strongly about the networking piece. Some supposedly pro-woman organizations I have been involved with were either unhelpful (due to the lack of connections, as you mention), or operated by women who were more interested in staying at the top than supporting those of us closer to the bottom. On the other hand, some of my greatest mentors and connections have been men. That’s obviously not to say that the opposite can’t be true in either situation. But I am sick of hearing about pro-woman organizations that purportedly exist solely for the professional advancement of women, and end up being nothing more than a social club for women who have already made it on their own.

    I love your posts (even the ones I don’t agree with). Keep ’em coming!

    • MJ
      MJ says:

      Yes! I noticed that with our local “low level woman’s pretentiousness club” – the ladies in charge (and believe me, they were not girls or women but “ladies”) kept a very clubby feel to things. The in crowd ran the networking breakfasts and introduced the speakers, and if you weren’t already in the in crowd, they’d never invite you. Oh puke. If you are over 13 then you need to get over junior high.

  39. Renee
    Renee says:

    Yes, the “best places for women to work” thing is stupid. Most of them involve things like “good onsite day care”. That’s great, but what about those of us who don’t have kids? The list makers pick one thing and one thing only, and if that doesn’t fit you, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

    And women’s networking groups – AWFUL. There was one here which didn’t do any ‘networking’ I could see, though it did have yoga (in a town with yoga places on every street corner), and seminars on things like how speaking nicely to snowflakes makes them melt in a prettier way than yelling at them. (I only wish I were kidding about any of this.) The owner of this place charged people $100 a month for this. Not surprisingly, it went out of business after a year.

  40. Kristin T.
    Kristin T. says:

    I love point #5, particularly the “secret” about men who aren’t OK with women crying at work. I found it pretty funny that some men, who obviously aren’t OK with workspace tears, immediately spoke up to say certain motivations for crying are fine, but others are not. This perspective just confirms that women are unfairly seen as overly dramatic, skilled actors. Do men really think we can cry when we want to and block the tears at will? Please! We have talents, but I don’t think manipulative crying-at-will is one of them.

  41. Faryn
    Faryn says:

    The only advice I’ve ever heard is #5, and I agree with it. No one should cry at work!! Of course, we shouldn’t be browsing the internet at our leisure, either. Point being – shit happens; we don’t always abide by what we should and should not be doing. If you cry at work once in a blue moon, don’t sweat it. If it’s a regular occurance, you’re either at the wrong job or need some therapy (or both), because anything that makes you cry that much – be it out of anger or frustration or a general weepy disposition – isn’t healthy.

    And I’d really love to read some posts with less projecting, Penelope. Not all stay-at-home dads are miserable; the ones who aren’t miserable are not the huge anomaly you make them out to be. Not every woman feels entitled to being “taken care of” by her man or even aspires to that kind of lifestyle/marriage. Believe it or not, there are some really happy, mutually nurturing and productive marriages out there which defy traditional gender roles. My husband and I married each other knowing he would never make as much money as me; he never has, he never will. I knew when we had children it would be tough for me; tougher for me than him. It’s never been an issue for us! Of course you’re going to imply that he’s delusional or secretly resenting me, but that’s just a result of number 4, the inability for women to be supportive of each other, right?? Again, I’ve never had that problem. But maybe it’s because I don’t look at the people I meet as mere leverage. Authentic relationships – with colleagues, with one’s spouse, with friends – may be where true success lies.

    Life is not out to get you.

  42. Kim C.
    Kim C. says:

    Believe it or not, there are also MEN who use tears to manipulate people. Well, at least in their personal lives. I briefly dated a couple of them. Emphasis on the word “briefly”!

    That said, I (a woman) was visibly on the verge of tears once with a client (a man) because I was extremely frustrated — the client’s company was not holding up its side of agreed-on actions, making it difficult if not impossible for me to do a good job. Result: I earned the client’s respect and our relationship improved 100%. Go figure.

  43. Lane
    Lane says:

    Sad to say, but I’ve found that all-women networking or meeting groups don’t achieve as much or aren’t as fulfilling, as most co-ed ones. I’m 100% behind you there, PT. Part of it is just because they aren’t taken as seriously – by outside groups, or the women in them themselves.

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