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Share the blame, ladies

Tamara Miller
Vail CO, Colorado

Women have arrived in politics, exclaimed some of our nation’s leading ladies at last week’s Aspen Ideas Festival, a shin-dig for the country’s brainiacs.

It’s been less than 100 years since women were given the right to vote, and today, the Senate has 17 women and the House of Representatives is represented by 70. Our country has had a female secretary of state, a female national security advisor, a smattering of women governors and a handful of female CEOs. It’s taken years for the women to break through the old boys’ club and get the respect and authority we deserve. We’ve come a long way, sure.

Yet, we’re still not all the way there.



Women make only about 76 cents to every dollar a man makes. And while women make up half of the workforce, only 10 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women. The double standards that have kept ladies out of many leadership positions still continue today: the female equivalent of an assertive man is an aggressive woman; a male who shows emotion shows heart, yet would be considered weepy and emotional if he were a female.

Yeah, guys suck. But blaming men for stunting our growth gives them entirely too much credit. We ladies do a pretty good job of holding ourselves back, too.



Researchers in Berlin found that when presented applications for promotion, women were more likely to consider a female candidate less qualified than the male one. In the meantime, when researchers in the U.S. polled 800 women who had a preference, most preferred to work for men. In fact, younger women were more likely to want male bosses then women of the baby boom generation, according to the survey by Lifetime Women’s Pulse.

You won’t often hear the guys in your office gossiping by the water cooler about how their high-ranking male cohort likely slept his way to his position. Or that Joe Smith got his job for his looks instead of his qualifications.

We can’t help putting each other down even when we’re outside work. Who do you think are the main rivals in the Mommy Wars? Why, it’s stay-at-home moms versus working moms. You can leave dad out of this one.



So has the feminist movement failed? When our mothers and grandmothers were marching for equal rights and reproductive choice was it all a ruse? Maybe what we really wanted was the freedom to work for a male boss, hold a dead-end job for which we’re underpaid and the opportunity to judge our girlfriends for quitting their jobs to take care of kids, or likewise, for not quitting their jobs to take care of kids.

I’m not saying every woman over 18 should vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman. But I can guess there are plenty of voting ladies out there who won’t vote for Hillary Clinton for precisely the same reason. Even if they don’t realize it.

Afterall, we want our president to be headstrong and clever. Hillary’s just bitchy and manipulative, right?

Part of the problem is all of us ” men and women ” don’t know as many female leaders. Many of us have never worked for female bosses, and for women, in particular, that’s a real drawback. Part of advancing in a career is learning how to balance your responsibilities, at work and at home, as well as knowing how to lead people. While girls and young women can admire their male bosses, it’s difficult to model much of their behavior. Especially when the way their male bosses balance work and home is to have a woman take care of the latter.

Part of the problem is the rivalry between women. The envy and jealousy that fueled the catty gossiping in seventh grade hasn’t gone away, apparently; it’s just grown up. Susan Shapiro Barash, who interviewed 500 women about rivalry and wrote a book about it, called “Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth about Women and Rivalry,” writes that even today “we’re still willing to cut each other’s throats over what we value most ” jobs, men and social approval.” It continues in the workplace, Barash writes, where we tend to dismiss men as rivals and focus on the closest competing female.

And I think part of the problem just come back to each of us, ladies. That despite all of the advances, the opportunities and the resources, we often lack the confidence in ourselves to move ahead, to lead, to voice our thoughts and opinions, to do what we think is right without a man behind us nodding his head.

We can only count on ourselves to break ground for women. Who wants to make the first move?

Opinion/Projects Editor Tamara Miller can be reached at 748-2936, or tmiller@vaildaily.com.


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