Clay Shirky’s ‘Rant About Women’

I saw a blogger responding to a Clay Shirky post the other day. Nothing unusual in that, but the more I looked, the most the particular issue he’d raised had struck a nerve. I’ve been burned so many times paraphrasing people that I’ll not even try this time, but he addresses the reasons why women don’t make the same progress as men in the work place. He’ll be on Tuesday’s show – and you can read his post in full here.

24 Responses to “Clay Shirky’s ‘Rant About Women’”

  1. 1 T
    March 15, 2010 at 16:35

    Are men allowed to be more ruthless? In many ways yes (because they hold most of the power). If a woman does it she’s called all kinds of things. And, she’s supposed to just shut up and take it (the price of hanging with the “big boys”).

    How do you change this? I don’t know.

  2. 2 T
    March 15, 2010 at 17:04

    Imagine if a woman becomes President in 2012. Regardless of who she is, would millions be able to handle it? Sounds silly to ask. But then again, Obama was getting what, 30 death threats a day? So, would it really be a breakthrough to have a woman President? In some ways, maybe not.

    • 3 Linda from Italy
      March 16, 2010 at 12:51

      I hate to say this T, and please no accusations of racism, but maybe in the 21st Century US, a non-100%-white male was seen as the lesser of two evils, when the alternative was the white female Hilary Clinton.

      • 4 jens
        March 16, 2010 at 17:40

        alternativly the people may have wanted somebody different than following another bush with another clinton… bush-clinton-bush-clinton….

  3. 5 John in Salem
    March 15, 2010 at 18:09

    An interesting observation, as far as it goes, but it begs a lot of questions.
    If it’s about women not getting what they want, how about looking at the gender differences in the rate of career changes over a person’s lifetime? How many of these men who BS their way into jobs later walk away from them? Do women really gain anything substantial by adopting male attitudes about entitlement, and by this I mean – who is happier or feels more fulfilled at the end of the day?

    An anecdotal case in point – I’ve been in the dental lab business for 40 years, and in all the labs I’ve worked in and around, ALL, without exception, have been owned by men, and the majority of those men have been alcoholics. On the other hand, the women entrepeneurs in the field were more likely to set up on their own and do contract or piecework out of their homes and most of them rake in good money without any the grief.
    I think women who act like men lack imagination, and I’m not sure they or the world would really benefit if more did.

  4. 6 jens
    March 15, 2010 at 21:48

    Not sure if this a rant, but rather stating facts. i am up for a new challange more often than not, and i up for going for leadership positions. with this comes the terretory that you have to highlight the qualities you have and sell them well. nobody is going to employ somebody for a new position with new challanges who say ‘uhmmmm, well maybe…..”. if you want it you have to go after it convincing your employer that while it is a new challange you are capable of doing it. Raising your hand to the challange means that you will have to stand and be counted. my current job has plenty of new chalanges, and i am being judged every day. in my experience there is nothing wrong with saying, I do not know it where can i get the information. the point is one has to be pro-active all the time from getting the job to working on it. the one thing i see is that women are more sensitive to critizisem. i get beat-up about something, i take the beating and walk away tall, however bloodied I am. yes it might be easier for a man, but i doubt it is much easier. in many cases the beating was the result of me screwing it up, either by not knowing or by getting into the deep end of something i am new at.

    • 7 Linda from Italy
      March 16, 2010 at 14:26

      @ Jens “…….highlight the qualities you have and sell them well”
      Having spent nearly 20 successful years in a job that involved a large amount of selling, the one golden rule is don’t lie.
      Of course you tailor your spiel to the thing you are selling and the person you are selling it to, but unless you are intentionally involved in something fundamentally dishonest, all you will generate is dissatisfied customers who will not only come back and complain, but will bad-mouth you to all and sundry and thus cost you potential business.
      This guy seems to be making the case for dishonesty, dressed up as “risk-taking”, never mind the truth, feel the BS!

      • 8 jens
        March 16, 2010 at 16:25

        selling well is not lying. i have my CV to back-up any of my claims, but it is up to me to present myself as good as I can. this starts with manerismes, dress well, and be prepared to deal with the unexpected. pretty much every job interview I had was followed with a job offer and that is spanning a 27 year carreer. you don’t achieve this by lying, but by simple being prepared and sell yourself. my abilities are a commodety for myself and my employer.

  5. March 16, 2010 at 00:07

    The very last thing the whole world needs is for women to start behaving like men .

  6. 10 Linda from Italy
    March 16, 2010 at 12:46

    Oh dear, what a sad man!
    Apparently we should all aspire to being “arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks”, but arguably the world is in such a mess because there are already far to many of these charming specimens in positions of power in politics and business.
    Exaggerating your CV to the point of fiction is standard practice these days and thus the law of diminishing returns applies, if everyone paints themselves as the best thing that could possibly happen to a company, the wheat still has to be sorted from the chaff. Interesting that Mr. S actually toned this guy’s hyperbole down, would he have toned up a more honest self-appraisal? If from a woman, I guess not.
    He is also advocating reckless risk taking to the extent of law-breaking, and by implication trampling all over people, Bernie Madorf anyone? We are told that the current financial crisis was caused by that very sort of behaviour that I thought was now out of fashion, but maybe he’s just being a sweet old fashioned boy, terrified of women like most male chauvinists, and putting them down is his comfort blanket. But what a put-down, apparently we members of the “fairer (in the sense of fair play) sex” are less prone to lying, cheating and general anti-social behaviour, and are thus inferior. However, as we poor female lame-brains do finally struggle to the top, often having to make a lot more effort precisely because of the way the likes of Mr C. stereotype us, we can change the sort of values that have made the world such a hostile place.

  7. 11 Cheshire Pete
    March 16, 2010 at 13:12

    This guy seems to be complaining because women find it harder to be dishonest and selfish.

  8. 12 Tony Palfrey
    March 16, 2010 at 13:13

    The more a woman tries to act like a man the more ridiculous she looks and becomes. I know a lady who runs our city and she does it all as a wife and mother and nobody could do the job better. She certainly has no pretentions that she is a man or doing a mans job. She is always a woman doing a job in a womans way and I have to say brilliantly. The woman in the man’s suit to me is the prime example of a misfit clown and well on the wrong track. She impresses nobody. Maybe it’s presumptious of me to assume that because she looks and dresses like an idiot, she is one but I certainly wouldn’t employ her. My wife acts like a woman because she loves being a woman and I love her because of it. I am not sure if she would actually leave me if I decided I was missing something and started wearing a mini skirt and sought to be a playschmidwife but I rather hope she would. A man and a woman can each be more by complimenting the other and offering to the world or workplace a balanced view that neither could offer as a single gender unit.

  9. 13 Linda from Italy
    March 16, 2010 at 13:22

    Alicia, have just read your tweet at the top of the page, PLEASE there is a huge difference between being assertive and being arrogant.

  10. 14 Helen Richmond
    March 16, 2010 at 13:34

    This is an interesting. The author is displeased with Shirky’s rant. She says,

    “We find yet another instance of a man telling women-as-a-whole, “You know what your problem is?”

    Read it here: http://undecidedthebook.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/a-rant-about-clay-shirky/#comment-751

  11. 15 patti in cape coral
    March 16, 2010 at 14:03

    So is he saying that women have to put on an arrogant, more masculine image to get ahead in their careers, or that we need to be more masculine and arrogant for real? Maybe this works for some people, but I get confused with role playing. What you see is pretty much what you get no matter where I am or who I’m with. Life is simpler that way. Of course it is easy for me, in my typical work day my contact with other humans is minimal, but I am very assertive with my computer and copier and they know who’s boss.

  12. 16 Roy, Washington DC
    March 16, 2010 at 14:28

    Reading his blog post, that had nothing to do with women. When you apply for a job, especially in this job market, you pretty much HAVE to write your letters as though they’re coming from (in his terms) a PR department.

  13. 17 nana kwarteng
    March 16, 2010 at 15:33

    Women act and should act like women, whatever that means. And men and should act more like real men. The modesty of women in the work place is a balance against men’s ego, which is by no means cultivated, but rather inherent.

  14. 18 nana kwarteng
    March 16, 2010 at 15:35

    Women act and should act like women, whatever that means. And men and should act more like real men. And I know what that means. The modesty of women in the work place is a balance against men’s ego, which is by no means cultivated, but rather inherent.

  15. 19 claudine
    March 16, 2010 at 15:37

    Just another example:
    In England many anglican priests wanted to quit and run over to the catholic church just because a woman was on top of the list for a job as Bishop.
    They just could not take the idea that a woman might deicide over what a man had to do or not.

    I got the feeling that men group up against women, give each other the better posts and since men usually have to decide they also give each other the higher salaries.
    Women usually get for a similar/comparable job less money, and they even get less old age pension.

  16. March 16, 2010 at 15:58

    I think what we forget sometimes in these discussions is that some women are, in fact, bigotted, loud mouthed jerks. That is not a characteristic unique to men. As a matter of fact, I know a few such people – period! The point is that, social justice and equity cannot and should not be sacrificed in the interests of expediency. If getting to the top means we have to walk on and destroy others to get there, then there is clearly something wrong with that approach.

    However, if by deploying strategies which utilise tried, tested and proven methods of advance to get ahead then more power to the women who should find it necessary to do so. All people could learn something from being more assertive and insistent about their political agendas.

  17. 21 nora
    March 16, 2010 at 16:29

    I’m with Patti. Tame the technology and don’t let men or women stand in your way.

  18. 22 Daphne Clark
    March 16, 2010 at 18:45

    While I agree with clay’s point that women need to take advantage of self promotion and risk taking, I think it’s important to realize the environment we are in. Women are still in on the continum of establishing their credibility and worth. If too many women (ie Sarah Palin) take high profile risks and accept opportunities that they are not yet ready for, we will set some of our progress back.

  19. March 16, 2010 at 19:10

    As an alpha woman myself, it is a long held observation that men/boys are not just competitive with women but afraid of them. Men who are not afraid of anything can be deeply emotionally fearful of women. Think about it. Who holds the emotional power for most boys? Who must men depend on emotionally as adults?

    When I was 14 I had a confrontation with my male chemistry teacher where I stood up for the class. This resulted in him leaving the room. If I had been a boy, I would have been the class hero. As it was, I was the class “bitch”. As far as the boys were concerned I had assaulted them all. The funny thing about this was that I was a cute, blonde, ditzy and very feminine girl.

    Over and over again I have witnessed the reactions of men to my strong personality either to call me a “tough cookie” (sexist) or to exclude me in some way.

    I have said for years that we would definitely have a black man for president before we’d have a woman. Most men are just not ready for that yet.

    As I’ve gotten older I feel less competitive and more ready to balance the aggressive polarity created by men in the world. Maybe equal is not “more of the same” but different.

  20. 24 Cabe UK
    March 16, 2010 at 19:35

    humm – the BEEB it seems didn’t like my last comment? (Mr C is ok to rant about women but women can’t ‘rant’ about Mr C ???)

    I couldn’t see what the real problem was within the “Rant” itself.? It just seemed like a collection of vague unrelated observations? I assume Mr C’s women students all passed their exams? – if so, then why complain about writing a recommendation for them? (he said they can’t write their own…? um… but he taught them, right?)

    Women Do have fewer ‘role models’ than men – but is this because men need ‘role-models’ ? ….Or because women are more supressed than men and can never catch up with the ‘role-model’ numbers?….

    Women obviously are from Venus, but did it never occur to him that they are their own *role-model* and thus their sex carves its own nich in the world in their own way ? !! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: