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.

147 replies
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  1. Dara
    Dara says:

    I think the discussion about crying at work is fascinating. I’ve always lived by the rule that you don’t cry in public, period (exceptions might be funerals or something). BUT, I do know how frustrating this rule is to live by and have been very close to shedding tears at work. I agree 100% that the tears want to come when I am very angry or very frustrated. The thing that sucks is that crying/verge of crying makes it impossible to for me to speak and therefore I can’t respond to the situation like I want. I usually sit in silence “sucking it up” and forcing myself not to cry.

    The one time this happened at work I requested to meet with my boss again about the situation after I’d calmed down, but I wonder if it would’ve helped to just cry and then address the situation right then after I got over the tears? I just don’t think it’s acceptable to cry at work unless you’re going through a personal tragedy.

    Should we expect to men to accept our tears calmly (or be in control of their emotions in response to tears) when crying in and of itself is not really a calm emotion? Why shouldn’t men turn the question around and expect women to keep themselves under control? I’m just curious because I don’t find angry outbursts by men an acceptable workplace practice. So if tears are woman’s version of angry outburst, should we feel free?

  2. LC
    LC says:

    I’m with you on all-women networking groups. I’m a member of one now, but only because I’ve found useful resources through it, not job leads. Interests and industry are a stronger basis for connection than gender.

    I’ve never cried at work. When I felt the need to cry once (personal matter, not due to work), I left the building. But then, I don’t cry in my personal life either. Find another outlet for your anger or tears. When I get frustrated or angry, I take out a pad and write it all out until the storm passes. No good comes of tears from anyone.

  3. Stretch Mark Mama
    Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I’ve worked with a lot of ego-maniac men (who made me cry) and back-stabbing women (who just irritated me w/ their time-wasting). It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve been in the corporate environment, and I STILL get angry thinking about those situations that made me cry. Ugh.

    On the flip side, it is a true and unforgettable blessing to work with a supportive, intelligent woman or a secure, understanding man. I’ve experienced both to differing degrees.

    My current “work” (volunteer) experience comes from ministry, where I’m still learning to work the system. The rules are similar but there’s a few extra ones thrown in for good measure.

  4. thatgirlinnewyork
    thatgirlinnewyork says:

    dara–i don’t think crying implies that a woman is “out of control”. most people here have likened it to frustration, but it by no means should be sexually stereotyped (e.g., men yell; crying is the female equivalent). i’ve known plenty of women at all levels who yell.

    i don’t derive particular pride in keeping myself “in control” 100% of the time, because it’s not human/realistic. i agree with those that say anger and frustration can be a conduit to resolution when it’s expressed in a non-threatening way. the rub is that everyone receives it in a different way, so perhaps the litmus is checking oneself to ascertain whether they can carry on a reasonable discussion at the time of frustration. if not, perhaps excusing ourselves for a minute is the best option–the emotion has to go somewhere, and we all know what a habit of repression does. and yes, one can liken repression with “being in control”, but neither is indefinitely sustainable.

    • Barbara
      Barbara says:

      The “habit of repression” actually doesn’t do anything. Not giving into a display of emotion doesn’t raise your blood pressure or give you cancer or cooties. It’s a myth, perpetuated by Oprah and her ilk. Many people can either suck it up long enough or distract themselves from the feeling of the moment. Doing what needs to be done at the moment is my mantra, thanks to David K. Reynolds and his book, Constructive Living, based on Morita.
      Your feelings don’t always need an outlet. You can acknowledge the emotion and move on.

  5. Dara
    Dara says:

    thatgirlinnewyork– I don’t think we can keep our emotions bottled up 100% of the time…I’m seeing “go cry in private” mentioned a lot, which I’m on board with.

    Perhaps, it’s just me, but I DO feel that the moment I start letting the tears flow, I’ve lost control. I kind of equate it to letting the angry outburst happen (though I did not mean to imply only women cry and only men yell). I would think it requires similar effort to suppress/repress the angry outburst as it does the tears. Maybe not? It’s considered pretty healthy of an individual to repress anger until an appropriate time/place (not work).

    I guess the BIG question is, how seriously is anyone taken (man or woman) when they are crying? Should it be acceptable in the workplace of anyone?

    It just depends on the scenario to me: 1) crying at work because you’ve just been fired, have just fired someone, personal trauma, I can take that crier seriously all day long 2) Crying b/c someone reprimanded you (made you angry/hurt your feelings) or similiar situation, I’m probably wishing you’d go cry and then come back and talk when calm again. Not saying that it’s unreasonable to cry in either situation, I just think the workplace requires more strict levels of self-control to be professional. Not sure though, b/c, thank God, I’ve rarely wanted to cry at work.

  6. J Jacobson
    J Jacobson says:

    You are so right on – I love how you put things out there that we all know to be true but are so afraid to say. Thank you!!

  7. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    I am a woman executive and the only time I ever cried in “public” was when a male politican (I was in government) very publicly criticized my staff. I knew how hard my staff were working and how dedicated they were. I too felt as exhausted and unappreciated as they did. But I cried for his total lack of understanding and gratitude, and for the way my staff perceived it. I actually left the meeting — midtide in the politican’s rant — when the tears gathered in my throat.

    Interestingly enough, many people saw this as a sign of strength — that I would be moved to tears because I was empathizing with the feelings of others. Tears are human; women are human. I’d rather be a feeling human than an unfeeling bully like this particular politican.

    Women have great capacity for feeling; let’s not lose it by being embarrassed when real emotion takes over. We de-humanize ourselves.

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      your illustration serves a valuable reminder to those of us who don’t feel that we need to become hardened in order to be effective and respected in our work. thank you!

    • Rebecca Gonzalez
      Rebecca Gonzalez says:

      Another example from a non-crying executive, today I found myself a bit damp eyed when thanking a colleague who had really helped me a tremendous amount starting up a new position. I was genuinely appreciative and got a tiny bit choked up. I am a she and colleague is a she and she appeared to understand exactly what I was trying to say.

  8. SallyR
    SallyR says:

    P. you should write about expressing anger at work. I like several of the other women that have posted have only cried at work because I was angry. Anger at work is hard. If you express anger or frustration by crying or leaving the room you are seen as weak. If you yell or cuss you are seen as crude and unprofessional (unless you are one of the older white men who lead my organization, then it perfectly acceptable). So what are you supposed to do? I rarely get angry at work, but when I do I’d like to know what to do with all that emotion and not come across as a drip or a creep.

    As far as the pick a mate who earns more money thing – nah – don’t get married and don’t live with someone. Of course that’s only if you don’t intend to have children.

  9. Kate
    Kate says:

    IN a conversation once about crying my husband let me into a secret. He said men don’t cry, they get angry, and suggested I try it. Now at work when I start feeling that level of stress, that adrenalin rush (there’s normally some warning)I try to think – am I upset or angry? If I’m angry I focus on why, and what I need to say/do to fix it. Then I say it clearly and firmly so noone can mistake me. Amazingly, this often this makes the tears go away. It is easier to control anger than tears and losing control is not helpful at work.
    Maybe this tip might help someone else out there.
    If it’s tears, and they’re coming no matter what I do, I get out of there. If it’s a blubberfest I get in my car and go home. Twice I’ve done this and gone back in the next day to resign. If your environment’s that bad, get the hell out.

  10. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Thanks for this article – it was really good advice that many of us can learn from and apply.

    I’d be interested, as many other posters have asserted, in more on the topic of anger and tears. It vexes me to no end but I’m admittedly an “angry crier”. I’d love to learn “how” to channel anger differently but I’m at a loss to do it naturally.

    It isn’t quite as easy as the suggestion from one of your readers that we just “apply powder” or seek psychiatric help.

  11. le
    le says:

    hello there P

    Like you did have I have a stay at home husband (except the last three months when we have swapped – he is painting our house and I am mothering full time). In addition to your points about how the men are not happy, I would raise the point being how happy does it make the wife …

    My personal experience shows the kids are super well parented by their stay at home dad, my husband, but the domestics go to hell in a handbag and are neglected to the max. This makes me unhappy. So a stay at home dad without a cleaner is a real pain in the butt – for the wife.

    As to all female network groups I refuse to join them, full stop. Why would I work my way to be only one of five female CEOs in Queensland local govt and then go hang with a bunch of women only, when 120 of the other ceo role holders are …. MEN. Forget it.

    And crying at work … well we ask men to modify some of their manish behavours – the ones we have trouble coping with – so why would they not want us to save the tears for the bathroom and not the boardroom. And tears when I am angry … no way, I like words and actions – far more productive. And crying to manipulate – use what you have baby :) cheers le

  12. Eric
    Eric says:

    Hello, there is my first comment on this blog. First of all, I’ll beg you to excuse my french. Well, in fact, I am french.

    Anyway, I always had difficulties to handle woman’s crying at work especially when I have to critizize a part of their work in a way or another. I first wondered if I was too hard on her. I know that sometimes, in a well known “rush time”, we do not always take the time to manage other’s feeling. It’s nothing personnal, it’s not harassment, it’s not supposed to be painful. It’s just “rush time” at work.

    I know it’s a mistake. It’s something on what I should work on. But when you reach a certain level of your career, even when you are still an employee, you have to handle to work with deadlines, pressure. Everybody makes mistakes, even the best ones. No need to cry about it, just makes it right. How am I suppose to handle that ? I cannot avoid the feedback on this woman’s work. And if it’s a bad feedback, I have to tell her, for her own good.

    When I was still an employee, I had a couple of managers who reviewed me in terms of “Perfect, you’re one of the best in the team, thanks for your considerable work during rush times, etc”. Yeah, great. But what I didn’t know and what they didn’t tell me is that some managers of mine had a relationship problem with me. I learned it two years later. How I was supposed to correct by behavior without knowing about it ? I hated that. As a manager and company owner, I will not do that to an employee, even if she’s crying. She’ll think about it later and understand the point, then correct it.

    I strongly think that is a part of management to say things. To congratulate when the time is right. To criticize when you have to. A manager is supposed to help his team to gain experience, to level up.
    In order to do that, you have to point a bad work or a non-valuable work when you have to. No matter the cryings.

    Tears are one time shot. It’s understandable but it’s not constant. Tears first, thoughts after that and making things right to the end. That’s how I see it.

    Maybe I’m wrong anyway. It’s just a point of view of a young manager who’s starving to learn.


  13. Reality Check
    Reality Check says:

    In my experience, the key to good management is consistency, honesty, and above all, follow-through.

    This goes against all of the stupid politically correct BS out there, but men and women are different. Big surprise there — not superior to one another, just different. So, when I (or someone else) manages a mix, it is very hard to be consistent across the board.

    Yes, reasonably, a good mgr needs to be sensitive to items specific to each gender. Generally speaking, the women that have worked for me really respond to feedback (good or bad) as I’ve found most just want to feel valued. For men, generally, they (in my experience) just want to be left alone and want to feel like they’re work is valuable. Obviously, this is just one broad observation.

    At all levels, it’s very hard to manage people (as this applies to both) who have trouble containing emotions. I’ve managed hyper-sensitive women who couldn’t take any constructive criticism without balling and I’ve managed hyper-egotistical men who shout and scream when you ask them the time of day. And yes, generally, women are A LOT harder on other women than men are to men.

    Bottom line. The women I’ve worked with have been fantastic for the most part. Generally speaking, they’re easier as they don’t usually come with an attitude problem. In stressful times, reasonably, everyone understands tears here and there. Just don’t make a big deal in front of everyone as it is a tad awkward.

    Penny, this article goes into the win column as it is more sensible.

  14. deepali
    deepali says:

    Love it. But I think your psychology on #5 is wrong, and you might want to discuss further with a psychologist (and post further about too). Not maintaining control of your emotions IS weakness. There’s nothing wrong with weakness, but if you are constantly flying off the handle/crying/etc, you *are* being manipulative. You are also setting a bad example. And you *are* taking things too seriously.
    We seem to think that it is healthy to express ourselves, but it’s no more healthy to do that extreme than the other – repressing it all. There is a middle ground, and it lies in discretion. What should be expressed, and what should you just let go?

    I used to have serious anger management issues, which usually resulted in tears. And yes, I will admit that the tears were often manipulative, because you get further with them than with a temper tantrum. Better pity than more anger.
    So I sat down with my anger issues one day, and realized that there were a few places where I could manage a stop-gap, if not an ultimate fix. The biggest benefit came from being able to hold back the tears/yelling at least until I could make it to the bathroom.
    The key? Stop acting like I’m the center of the universe and everything was about *me*. Because frankly, it’s not. The same things that piss me off, piss other people off too. The sooner we all learn that, the better we’ll be able to handle our own emotions.

    So let out the tears, sure. But don’t think that just because you are a woman, it’s always ok to cry.

  15. Ashtacular
    Ashtacular says:

    Why in the world would any smart woman blow a book deal on “other people’s accomplishments”? Seems to me, like the whole point a book deal is to give the writer an opportunity to share (somewhat) original ideas…

  16. McCallum
    McCallum says:

    I agree with all your points but one – the crying the in workplace. There is a time and place. As a woman and as a professional, I find it less-than-professional when women cry in the workplace. But, it is all in context. I’ve seen women cry because they were on the receiving end of constructive feedback, and I’ve seen women cry because they basically didn’t get their way. I’ve also seen women cry out of frustration and for basically no reason at all. Those who cry out of frustration and no reason at all, usually do it in privacy and/or in a setting that minimizes the impact and allows them the needed personal time and I have far more respect for them for it.

    Incidentally, I am really tired of women using their ovaries as an excuse to cry. Yes, women have a tendency to be more emotional; however, PMS doesn’t excuse bottom-line professional. I’m not saying turn into emotionless drones or men, I’m saying make positive choices (yes, even when you have PMS) based on the time, place, and circumstances.

  17. mdiehl@frontiernet.net
    mdiehl@frontiernet.net says:

    I went to an all-girls high school and a women’s college and I’m all about the advantages there. But in my career, I’ve worked with women and have had leadership positions in women’s organizations — like, I end up as president. I’ve won an Athena Award — which is given in 400+ communities and 8 countries for professional achievement, leadership and contributions to women in your field, and community involvement. Women love me. I love my friends.


    I’ve also worked in a company full of women, and it was generally a shark tank.

    90% of the work I’ve gotten from clients (I’m a freelance writer and project developer/creative director)has come from men.

    Joining all-female groups has not directly benefitted my career. It has resulted in some good friendships and support.

    I just like working with men better.

  18. Tony Brown
    Tony Brown says:

    About the PMS aspect: Seems it’s been used as an excuse for denying women roles in society ranging from president to military combat. I guess the military would be one place where crying might be legit: if you’re crying you can’t see your target.

  19. Leanne
    Leanne says:

    Love this column. Especially #1 and #5. I’ve started a website that I hope will allow women (and others) more flexibility in their work lives during those high earning years when we can either opt out and go insane or try to do it all and go insane. And if a company wants to have an account on my site I’m demanding transparency – unlike those list of “best companies” do. I realize the transparency I demand may cause my site to be marginalized or never make a dime…but I’m hoping it works and changes things.

    As for crying at work – I’ve done it twice – neither time could I have stopped it and quite frankly – why should I? If things are bad enough to make me cry someone should know about it. Now I work for me – so crying at the office is highly acceptable and encouraged. After all – life is always a bit clearer after a good cry. And I challenge any male to handle all the things women do each day (especially working moms) and not cry. Try it for a week…I dare you.

  20. Anne
    Anne says:

    Disagree with #4 in certain circumstances. I’m a member of a woman’s bar association and it’s really been a fantastic resource for me, both from a networking standpoint and a solidarity one. I really haven’t witnessed above a low-level of animosity/cattiness in the group, which is much better than pretty much all mixed-gender groups I belong to.

    To be honest, I think it’s particularly helpful to us because we’re in an industry that is still male-dominated in many ways and also because we, well, aren’t always traditional women-types. (Or, as my co-counsel once famously said to a male client who asked us if either of us had a tissue, “Sorry, we’re not very good women.”)

    It’s nice to be in a place where you can feel free to behave naturally – which might mean discussing lolcats and facebook, or civil rights and the terrifying organizational skills of the religious right. From a younger woman’s perspective, it’s also fascinating to hear the experiences of women who are farther along and how they got where they are.

    I think that’s my 2 cents, and then some.

  21. Kamal S.
    Kamal S. says:

    Thank you for good advice that applies well for women and men alike. Basically what you are arguing for is a certain type of self-honesty. This is something both women and men in our society need in a large does, the ability to truly look at the self, honestly.

    I have to call the “B.S. card” on your statement that “I think the strength of women is that they see things more clearly”

    This is a grossly superficial and simplistic statement, remarkable because your blogs are quite full of real insights. I could reword this, in a male-biased way, that would have me branded a misogynist. In fact Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good as it Gets” throws out a statement similar in spirit, though a bit cruder in wording, on the weakness of women.

    Both sexes have strengths and weaknesses, both see aspects of things more clearly than the other. I think a failure of our society is that men and women are both reared with certain blind spots in how we see the world. I believe that men and women do see the world differently. This has been my experience, but I think it's more nuanced than you present. My experience has been that there are ways in which women see the world FAR more clearly than men, while there are also ways in which women typically see the world far LESS clearly than men, both sexes can be very dense to certain things. Avoiding gross simplifications and inaccuracies, I think that it is obvious to anyone who really looks at things, honestly, that there are dysfunctional ways in which both sexes see the world.

    The key is balance and complementarity. Something that we are not taught and that causes our relationships with each other to suffer.

    1. The NPR piece on reading hits on something but presents it in a laughably superficial way. It mainly indicates that women read more fiction than men, and that Americans in general read less. Why didn’t you focus on this aspect? BOTH men and women seem to read less, according to this article. Of the women who read more, they devour fiction.

    Fiction is not exactly descriptive of the world as it truly is, it can be, but at its root fiction is fantasy put into words. It can tell truths, but in itself it is not real. Note well that the largest genre of fiction consumed by women is Romance. Novels involving brooding Byronesque Highlander Rakes, saved from their dark sides, by assertive plucky red-headed heroines, or some variation of that generic plot theme, do not indicate "a stronger grip on reality"

    Men typically read more trashy books on war and military biographies while women typically read more trashy romances. So what. The key in both cases is quality, seeing things more clearly and having a better grip on how the world really is are not functions of reading fiction.

    Link 2. In reality men typically underestimate how overweight they are, whilst women typically overestimate how overweight they are. In both cases the key is a distortion of how things really are. This tendency is particularly found in certain social-economic and racial groups. So the role of culture, class, and race, matters. Everyone knows this, in fact themes relating to this are almost cliché.. particularly in some music genres.

    Asserting that a half-empty view of the world is more realistic than a half-full one is deceptive. The glass is both half full and half empty, both views see things less than how they truly are.

    Other than these two quibbles, great blog.

  22. Amy Wilson
    Amy Wilson says:

    Penelope – My husband is a stay-at-home dad. I could convince you that he’s happy, but that’s not the point. Who cares? What matters is that I don’t have to leave work to pick up my kid when he’s sick, I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat for dinner … I don’t have to sweat a lot of the life stuff and am able to focus on my career and my family.

    I agree with @le though, hiring a cleaner is mandatory!

  23. karen
    karen says:

    I would hate to say this but in many industries part of your success is determinded by your looks. you need to find away to look better or younger in order to gain the same treatment. I just read an article on eyelifts.com about how to look younger and how it may effect your career.

  24. Liz
    Liz says:

    I think the upshot is:

    Crying is a normal reaction for many women, and men, but it is associated with women being emotional, out of a control and manipulative. A number of cryers don’t see it as an interference with their ability to do their job. A number of non-cryers really look down on people who do.

    If you take gender out of the discussion, it’s a lot less charged. I think what’s bothering people is that crying is associated with women. So the judgers seem to be saying that normal female reactions are not acceptable in the workplace – that what’s normal is the male non-reaction. (Which is bullshit, most men I know are incredibly emotional at and about work. They just express it in different ways and lie a lot more). Of course women are going to feel rejected.

    Crying happens, and in most workplaces, it’s frowned on in a way that male outbursts aren’t. It’s unfair and personally, I think it’s time for the stigma to go. Work is not a boy’s club any longer. Women have been 50% of the workforce for a long time. I’m tired of male attitudes and behaviors being considered Everyone’s Idea of Normal.

  25. Brainless Knitter
    Brainless Knitter says:

    I never put much stock in those Best Places to Work lists. It’s a PR ruse. I always found that having a reasonable direct manager was the biggest factor in what made a place good to work.

  26. LisaNewton
    LisaNewton says:

    Women are often their own worse enemy. I really hate to say it, but in my experience, this is too true.

    Come on ladies, if you see a woman owned business that doing good things, promote them, don’t demote them. Give them positive feedback and if you can, a helping hand………………:)

  27. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    “PMS is just your body telling your brain that you need to start crying about the stuff that you've been ignoring all month.”

    Yay! True, true. More people should get it. Forces you to process things at a deeper level.

  28. Paula G
    Paula G says:

    Overall great article…. I have to disagree on all women networking groups all being bad however, I have found a few of those to be extremely beneficial especially with building my business. That doesn’t mean a mixed group can’t also be good… but if most of the folks you JV with and people in your target market are women, well, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to hang with only men. Might be different if you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder…. but I’d say a mix of all-women and mixed groups a sure fire bet.

  29. soretim
    soretim says:


    I think men are “unhappy” being SAHDs because they usually go from a career to staying at home. It feels like failure to a degree. Very few men plan on living the lifestyle.

    When you leave your job/career you quickly find out the joys and difficulties of being a stay at home parent and realize it’s a job too! If you loved what you did before you will miss it no doubt. If you never found your place then you will likely adapt to being a SAHD.

    I wish you would take into account context. No one would be happy being forced into something. But plenty of dads choose it based one family situation and many learn to love it (and don’t blog).

    Thank you for talking about it.

    Tim – a happy SAHD

  30. Jason
    Jason says:

    Having Penelope Trunk write an analysis on Stay-at-Home Dads usually comes across like asking Stevie Wonder to write a song about the color chartreuse.

    • Markus
      Markus says:

      I totally agree … it’s also like a man writing about what it’s like to be a woman [pointless, and of questionable usefulness].

      Like all attempts to classify all people of one type as identical, you really miss the mark on stay-at-home dads. There are far too many circumstances involved to fit every case … and your generalization is useless, offensive, and reminds me of the stereotyping women and minorities have endured for ages.

      I wouldn’t trade spending the first year home with my daughter for any sum of money, fame, or power. On my deathbed, I don’t think I’ll regret a moment spent with my children.

  31. Amber
    Amber says:

    I love your writing about most topics… you present things in a unique and interesting range that apply across both the work and life spectrum. However, your anti-SAHD rants make me sad. And I know, its your personal experience, and I’ll keep reading your blog, but whenever it comes out I always feel a need to defend SAHDs. :)

    Before we got married, my husband and I had an understanding that when we had kids we’d take a look at where we were in our lives, and if we could, one of us would stay home with them. When the time came and the choice was between him (a journalist) and me (a military officer) choosing to stay home, we evaluated all the options… both of us willing to stay home, and both of us willing to let the other one stay home… and decided my just under 6-figure salary (with $0-copayment health insurance, 30 days vacation + holidays, and all the other advantages) was probably going to be a better fit for the life we wanted for our kids.

    Anyway… he loves it, he’s a fabulous Dad and keeps our house in order, and I find my job really rewarding. Both of us have bad days, like anyone, but overall, I think this is working fabulously for us.

    The only problems we seem to encounter are from our old-fashioned family back in the southern U.S. who think my husband should be the breadwinner… and that somehow a Dad can’t be as good as a caregiver to his kids as a mom. Luckily, we live in California.

    And, I think thats what I find most ironic about your usually progressive writing… that you are so hung up on such an old-fashioned idea, that in my generation seems to be well accepted.

    And in case you were wondering, my husband does blog. :)

  32. Nicholas
    Nicholas says:

    As a man working sometimes with women in the workplace may I say it is much better working with a person that it is working with a gender. I never understood all this need for “equality” – we all serve different roles – not just between genders but everyone. I prefer the idea of equivalence in rights but that absolutely nobody is “equal” – we are all best at being ourselves and that is totally individual. I am going to really enjoy working with anyone who abides by these principles.

  33. Katelyn
    Katelyn says:

    I somehow felt very reassured by point five. Especially considering today was one of those hormone driven, nothing-is-going-right days where I simply HAD to cry, despite being in public. It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth says:

      Me too. I searched for this posting because today, for the first time, I cried and work. It was in response to criticism from my boss. YUCK. I would be SO SO SO mortified (instead I’m just SO mortified) if I hadn’t read this a few months ago, and learned that crying at work just sometimes happens. Not planning to make a habit of it, but at least I know it’s happened to someone before, and will happen to someone again.

  34. Alfred
    Alfred says:

    About the PMS aspect: Seems it’s been used as an excuse for denying women roles in society ranging from president to military combat. I guess the military would be one place where crying might be legit: if you’re crying you can’t see your target. – Easier to say than to do

  35. jessica s santascoy
    jessica s santascoy says:

    The “crying is okay at work” guideline is tricky. I had a supervisor who used to cry and then turn around and be mean and stern. It was an obvious case of feeling embarrassed for being vulnerable, then trying to compensate by being tough. After several of her bouts of crying, I came to see them as manipulative and unnecessary. On one occasion she burst out crying in front of several employees; the organization was filled with gossip. She got a reputation as being unstable and incapable of handling pressure, which she might have been. So, why not just excuse yourself and go to the ladies room to prevent the lack of credibility that may follow?

    However, if one feels passionate about an issue, crying may add credibility. For example, a friend of mine who’s a professor began crying and said “excuse me” in front of her class while teaching an especially sad period of Chicana history. The students were affected deeply by her emotion, and came up to her after class to thank her for crying. They felt her connection to the history and it made the history more personal.

    How crying is perceived is contextual. It depends a lot on the people around to make it a productive action. In business it could be distracting. Or, if trying to make your case, it might make an impact.

  36. bilbo
    bilbo says:

    I had one female boss, that was actually pretty good, one of my top three. She never cried at work, even when her husband died unexpectedly, which was kind of weird.
    The only bad thing about having a good looking female boss is not wanting to appear to be sucking up to her.
    The good thing was it was easier to manipulate myself to suck up to her.
    But, back to the point. Anger whether through tears or in any other fashion is not good at all at work. Especially in upper management. It just looks like the person in charge is out of control and can’t handle it. Even for males at work who throw a temper tantrum or berate people, it works totally in the opposite direction. Yes, they usually get immediate satisfaction or results. But in the long term it doesn’t help, because from then on any misstep, mistake is more easily questioned. Is this a simple mistake or is this because the person in charge can’t keep it together?
    If you look at business as war, which was quite popular in recent history. Then who do you want in charge when the bullets fly?
    Someone who is cool and collected taking in information to resolve the situation and making a decision, or someone who loses it emotionally when times get tough.
    Usually when times are tough or bad news comes around people are looking for leadership.
    So whether it be a male or female somebody who keeps losing it emotionally, doesn’t make for good upper management or mid-management.
    I have often thought that women had an advantage in this department, because they usually seemed less emotionally tied to their jobs.

  37. hj
    hj says:

    No, really — dont cry at work. Women who cry at work make me want to stab them in the eye. Cry at home, cry in the bathroom — if you have not been diagnosed with some terminal illness or your child is not seriously hurt — dont be crying at work — period.

  38. Nike Goalie Gloves
    Nike Goalie Gloves says:

    I think your on the money with these. It’s really refreshing for a women to admit to some of these things, and I think they world would be a better place if they were ruled out.

  39. Sid
    Sid says:

    hi… that’s really a great post in that article a lesson for the freshers who are still straggling to find right job for them, and who are student, graduate but not able to find right job but how there will handle their job and career in the future.

  40. JinTX
    JinTX says:

    I just stumbled onto this blog site this morning – now I’ve discovered this is tied to this “Brazen Careerist”. I mean no personal disrespect, however professionally, Penelope – you are very narrow minded (and in some cases I’ve already noticed – downright petty) in the career development field, and I hope young professionals don’t take your recommendations too seriously.

  41. Mike
    Mike says:

    This notion that it’s somehow acceptable for women to behave inappropriately in the workplace by having a crying outburst because their hormones make then several times more prone to crying than men is just as ridiculous as the notion that it's acceptable for men to behave inappropriately in the workplace by having an angry outburst because their hormones make them several times more prone to aggression. In either case, regardless of whatever hormones are driving a person's emotional urges, their failure to control their outward behavior in a business environment is not appropriate and should not be accepted. Excusing female crying in the work place, "because their hormones made them do it", while not tolerating hormone-driven male impropriety does not promote equality in any way. It promotes a double standard in favor of the gender that is supposedly battling double standards.

  42. Peter H
    Peter H says:

    About the PMS aspect: Seems it’s been used as an excuse for denying women roles in society ranging from president to military combat. I guess the military would be one place where crying might be legit: if you’re crying you can’t see your target. – €“ Easier to say than to do

  43. Robin
    Robin says:

    Its not that women have a weakness of crying at the work place. Some of the women are very good and they make very good leaders at the work place more than men,

  44. Letty
    Letty says:

    in the past couple of years I’ve noticed quite an increase in the number of female workers who cry in my company while sharing certain personal problems. However, recently, i’ve had a female coworker cry when I am truthful about how she speaks to me at times. Quite condescending to be precise. Today, she went overboard, and I addressed it and she cried for what seemed like a couple of hours. It was hard to ignore all the sniffling going on in the cubicle behind me. I didn’t feel bad. I’m sort of new to this department, a female myself, and still learning the ropes. I learn from people’s bad behavior by making sure I am a better trainer, teacher, mentor to new employees. However, I wondered if her side would be taken over mine purely because of the fact that she cried and i was dry eyed.

    • thatgirl
      thatgirl says:

      interesting! her crying could certainly be construed as manipulative, and that you didn’t fall for it likely upset her all the more. moreover, that she is typically condescending to you tells me a lot about who she is inside–likely suffering from an inferiority complex. too unlikely that she’ll ever take a good look at that. it sounds like it’s been her “winning formula” for a while.

      so good that you took your concerns directly to her, in any case. hats off!

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