“Why Are Women Different?” It’s been almost 30 years and I am even more pissed off than I was then.

And now they tell us there is research to prove that women think better when it’s not so damn cold? Like we didn’t know that?



So I have been cranky lately because

  • I am either freezing cold or boiling hot but never the average of the two,
  • There has been a huge re-org at work and I no longer work for my wonderful boss, who was the entire reason I took the job in the first place, and
  • I read the book, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado-Perez, and am now noticing all the things I never even thought could be different, like how there is just enough space between the slabs of concrete in the sidewalk to catch and ruin the heel of your leopard-print high heels, because that’s Just The Way Things Are.

Actually, I am beyond cranky with the things Criado-Perez points out. I am ready to start a revolution. Are you with me?

Oh wait. Some of you might not understand the reference in the title. In the early ’90s, either Time or Newsweek – I can’t remember which one and I can’t find a reference online, published a cover story titled, “Why Are Women Different?”

Bless their stupid patriarchal little hearts.

Women were pissed. Some of us still are. And as we get older and see even more stuff – even those of us who used to believe nope, women were not oppressed we have had the same opportunities as men (that would be me), we are more pissed.

So. Back to Criado-Perez and her pissing-me-off book.

I took Invisible Women with me on the train to Chicago. I spent almost the entire time taking photos of various passages and texting them to my two amazing co-workers (who are also no longer reporting to our amazing boss, so we are cranky about that together).

I finally stopped when I realized I was spending more time taking photos of the book than reading it.

But here’s a passage we can talk about. I think every women reading this has experienced this phenomenon at some level: the emotional labor.

data bias 3.jpg

I work at a company that is almost all men. This is almost always an excellent thing: I have never once in five years had to wait to pee, which, in my mind, is one of the true measures of civilization — not only that we can pee indoors but that men and women wait the same amount of time to pee.

But this environment throws into stark relief the usual male-female BS that we sometimes take as part of the landscape.

Every time there is a potluck or company-sponsored meal, the women do all the setting up and all the cleaning after. Women are less than ten percent of my site, but they do 100% of that kind of work.

When my wonderful intern started a few summers ago (have I written about this? I can’t remember), my male boss and I met with her to talk about office norms: what to wear, when to take lunch, etc.

I also told her not to bring cookies. I told her not to help set up the potlucks. I told her not to help clean up after. “Don’t do any of the ‘women’ stuff,” I told her, “unless your boss directly orders you to. You want to be known as Grace, the Amazing Engineer, not, Grace That Cute Girl Who Bakes Brownies.”

My boss, who is married to a wonderful woman and whose daughter just completed a master’s degree in chemistry, protested.

“I help and I bring food! And nobody thinks less of me!”

I gave him my best withering glance.

“You are a middle-aged man and you’re director level. Nobody is going to diminish you for those things. Men get admired for that crap. Women are just expected to do it. And if [your wife] has not already given this advice to [your daughter], then you need to tell her today.”

Read the book and then let’s talk.

I will leave you with this:

data bias 4

One thought on ““Why Are Women Different?” It’s been almost 30 years and I am even more pissed off than I was then.

  1. I once had a job – don’t remember which one – where they asked me to take minutes a my first meeting. Of course, I said “yes”. then the next meeting and then the next. By the 4th meeting I realized i was a patsy. (Note: female name for being a doormat.) So, the next minutes said things like, “Bob suggested {something true, but stupid] and after 15 minutes wasted discussing it, this idea was discarded.” I sent out the minutes and was NEVER asked again at that job. It was all factual, but not sanitized. After that, i knew to do it the first time, not the fourth.

    As we crawl up the corporate and societal ladder we have to excel where we’re good and do poorly at things we don’t want dumped on us. Not sure how to handle the set up/clean up details, but maybe assign them in advance and include the men in the assignments.


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