Kate Herrick (1144) wrote in ljphilosophy,
Kate Herrick

If this be feminism, make the most of it

More on my pet subject of women functioning differently than men. As some of us know, the faculty of reason creates a large percentage of our needs. Subtle differences in thinking style will be reflected in different needs. I don't intend to exclude men from any of the traits where I find differences; I think the differences are quantitative, not qualitative; but the overall combinations can be very different. And yes, individuals differ greatly as such; it would be a category mistake, though, to use this as an argument to ignore gender differences, when the gender gap in positions of power is still extremely obvious. We need to think more subtly, beyond male chauvinism, about what's going on.

I copy here three of the statements from women in power featured in a Newsweek article "What I Learned."

Enjoy the good advice, boys and girls.

Ethel Person, psychiatrist and author

I think the journey is always interesting if it's taking us somewhere, although you may have to navigate around some dead ends-- jobs where bosses don't support or encourage you. At each stage of my life, I have been very lucky to have special mentors. It is important to have a mentor-- a relationship in which a more experienced person treats a younger person with respect. If the person you work for is interested in what you think, that means they believe you have potential. I think the best managers want people who will be straightforward, who will tell them the truth. But there are some bosses with whom you have to agree because they're not interested in what you think. It's best to stay with them for awhile, but then move on.

Betsy Myers, Chief Operating Officer, Obama for America

No one is going to invite you to the table; you have to take the initiative. That means you have to have a thick skin. Ninety-nine percent of the time it isn't personal. People aren't sitting around thinking how they can exclude you.

Do your homework. Know your issues. Know them better than anyone else. Study. Listen. Show up on time-- preferably early. Don't think you know everything. No one knows everything. Don't act like you know everything. Don't be afraid to ask questions and to be comfortable with what you don't know. Get experts to brief you and guide you on what you don't know. Your ability to get things done in any organization is all about relationships. Never burn a bridge if you can avoid it. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Our reputations follow us throughout our lives, so how you treat others will be remembered.

Erskine Bowles, who was my boss at the White House when he was deputy chief of staff, told me two things that helped shape my ideas about leadership. The first is that it's important to know what you're good at, but it's more important to know what you're not good at. Surround yourself with people who know more than you. The second thing is, don't think you need to be in every meeting ... [because you won't get more work done].

There are two types of people in the world: people who create chaos and unnecessary work, and people who eliminate chaos and get the job done. Every organization has people who will attempt to waste your time-- and take you off your focus-- with the downward-spiral conversation about the negative aspects of the organization, a co-worker or a new project. It's energy-draining to talk about all the things that aren't working.

Don't talk in a meeting unless you have something to add....

Don't send long, flowery e-mails. To be taken seriously as a woman, you have to understand how men's brains work. Be very succinct in your response and very clear about what you are asking in the e-mail.

And lastly, thanks and gratitude are sadly underrated. Your team will be significantly more productive and happier if they feel appreciated.

Swanee Hunt, Founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

When I studied World War II, I always wondered about the policymakers sitting behind their big mahogany desks as Hitler overran Europe. Then, during the Bosnian war, I was the U.S. ambassador in Vienna. Suddenly, I was behind a big mahogany desk of my own, hearing horrifying reports from embassy personnel who were interviewing the refugees pouring into Austria. The responsibility was awesome. I couldn't sleep at night. I wondered if I should resign my position to protest the fact that my country was not intervening. I decided I could do more by working inside than I could by leaving, but it was a terrible terrible moral dilemma for me. I used every bit of connection I had to try to convince the president to intervene. And when Clinton finally intervened, the war was over very quickly. Meanwhile, 200,000 people died needlessly.

What I learned is that women in every conflict are trying to prevent war, are trying to stop it once it starts and are trying to stabilize after the peace agreement is signed because they don't want their kis getting killed. So we would be so much smarter at a foreign-policy level to support their work, and for the most part, Washington is clueless and the U.N. is clueless about that.

Women tend to be less corrupt, and when you're taking about developing countries, that is enormous. What they tell me is, "We know that any money that we put into our own pockets is not going to go to hospitals and to schools that will help the children in this country." They think of the whole country as their family.

All over the world, women leaders struggle to balance the responsibilities of their families and their jobs. We need to pass on to the next generation the idea that your family is more than your own children. This will allow women to let other people help raise their kids, for one thing. You don't have to be the sole person, the sole influence on your kids. That will then allow more women to be out in the world, working with their passions, shaping the future of many, many, many, many more kids.
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