Comments: Rant on Aggression Is Our Filter (for Now)

Mary,

I agree with some of your points, but disagree with others. As a woman who has done well in traditional male fields like Chemistry (my undergraduate degree), intellectual property law and the wireless industry (Muniwireless), I have observed how men and women behave over the course of many years. Here are my thoughts:

- Aggression (loudness, vulgarity, nastiness) has been the way to be noticed and it is practiced mostly by men. But there are also a lot of men who are turned off by that mode of behavior. In fact, the men who get noticed and invited to conferences to speak are a small subset of MEN and it's the ones who are not invited that are more interesting and have something to say.

- The Hunch workplace rules are similar to what Jason Fried at 37 Signals has been saying. There are many men - not the loud aggressive ones we keep hearing - who think this way.

- Women do not put themselves forward as much as men because women are more prone to doubt the value of their ideas and their work. There are historical and cultural reasons for this. I think women let their feelings affect their decisions more than men.

- When I started MuniWireless in 2003, I knew next to nothing about large scale WiFi networks. When I started calling wireless companies in early 2004 to get advertising, I knew I was competing with well established publishing companies in the wireless industry, but despite my uneasy feelings, I just went ahead and made those calls.

- I agree with you that women in general are less willing to deal with uncertainty and perhaps my own personality - I am comfortable with "winging it" - has to do with my success. So for example, when a conference organizer asks me to speak about a topic in wireless I don't know much about, I say yes, then panic mildly and do lots of research so by the time I speak, I know enough to give a valuable presentation. I think most women would say, "Oh no I don't know much about that, call X."

- We have to live in the world that is given to us today. We cannot wish it were otherwise although we can take steps to change it. Therefore, if you believe in what you are doing, you have to put yourself forward, not in an obnoxious manner, but you do have to push -- no one will come to you and roll out the red carpet. I think many women push only a little, then when they don't succeed, when they see men getting the plum jobs and speaking slots, they blame the world, play the victim (and enjoy playing the victim), and give up.

- There is a solution: if you don't get invited to the party, start your own party and send out invitations.

Esme

Posted by Esme Vos at April 22, 2010 07:18 AM

Doesn't look like that photo was actually taken by Catarina, nor taken at Hunch, according to a comment on the photo:

Lorena says:

Hilarious... I don't know how that picture got to your hands, but I took that with my iPhone on a board I sketched for my team in Ask.com while VP of User Experience. It actually got more detailed than that, all in the quest for achieving higher quality of focused time and better work/life balance. The results did not last too long as the rest of the company was drumming at a different workaholic beat. Lesson: The whole corporate culture has to be brought in unison to the philosophy... Otherwise the heroes are not seen so. _Dahveed

Posted by Liz Lawley at May 3, 2010 01:47 PM