There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why

Finally following up on Honey’s posting on the article The End of Men, about how women are now the majority of the workforce. The article is long as hell and took me like forever to read, but here’s what it boils down to. Ready?

  • There are more women than men in the workforce for the first time.
  • More women are getting college degrees than men.
  • More chicks in the workplace boosts the performance of a company.
  • Women are valuable because they’re socially intelligent and have strong intellects (agreed)
  • Men are weanies (also generally agree with).

So that’s the gist of it. Thought provoking article, I do recommend checking it out.

I will respond with a couple of personal anecdotes.

My Former Boss Thinks Women Make Better Employees

At my last company, a web design firm, the majority of the employees were women. In fact, at one point during my years there, there was a low point of four dudes (one was the CEO) and the rest chicks (over a dozen). All of the designers and coders (except for one) were dudes. Every other position was held by a woman: front desk, project manager, marketing, business development, sales, accounting, etc. It was the reverse of a sausage fest, whatever you call that, and we cracked jokes about it all the time. Coincidence or not, it was a nice environment to be in and it was clear to me that part of that was the skewed ratio.

Anyway, why? I had a couple of bar conversations with the CEO and this is what he told me: women make better employees. They’re more loyal, they stick around longer, they less frequently look for other jobs, they don’t rock the boat and give the boss shit, and for the coup de grace, they’re easier to manage. Not long before I joined the company, it had been predominantly male with male VP’s and male managers and he described that time period as sheer hell, because all the dudes were busy trying to tear each other apart. It was a lousy drama-fest that ended with restraining orders and lawsuits. He eventually got rid of all those guys and hired women in their places. It’s been harmonious ever since.

So I think there’s this insidious thought out there at the C-level that women are easier to control/manage, so it’s wise to stock your low and mid level positions with chicks because they’re better employees. Agree or disagree?

Also, is it a compliment to call female professionals better employees and easier to manage? It seems like it should be but I’m not so sure. It makes them seem…docile?? If someone called me easy to manage I’m not sure I would like that.

I Work At A Sausage Fest

At my new place, a technology firm, it’s a total sausage fest. At our low point there was precisely one woman (marketing) and the rest dudes, which was like 15. All of the developers, coders,

and designers are guys and it’s worth noting that the fellas are brilliant at those roles. We have since hired more women: front desk, accounting, executive assistant, sales, a couple of manager positions.

This company is vastly more volatile than the one described above. There were several weeks there in the beginning of the year when I didn’t know if the doors would be closed because something fucked up happened over the weekend. Thankfully, we’re on more stable ground now. The company culture is harmonious and I attribute much of that to our CEO who is a brilliant relationship builder but also to our recent (female) hirings.

On the flipside, we’ve had a revolving door of dudes leave the company since I started, perhaps a half dozen. Guys will just do that, it seems, they get antsy and look for other jobs. I know I’ve done that a lot. In fact, that’s why I left company A above and moved to company B, because company B was totally lame (and stable).

Touching on the last point from the Atlantic article, almost to a man, the dudes in the company are weanies. You know that guy you have pictured that’s a total computer geek, and not in a nerdy cool way? That’s these guys. They’re all brilliant and good peeps, but damn. So I have to generally agree with the main points of The End of Men.

Sports and Women

For a good chunk of years I coached sports professionally, both men’s and women’s team. People asked me this question all the time, “What’s the difference coaching men and women?” That was often followed up by a statement about how coaching women must have been more difficult, they tend towards more drama, they socialize more at practice, they break down and cry more, etc.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Coaching female athletes is significantly easier than coaching men. This was the dirty secret in the coaching fraternity…we knew that easy street was had by coaching the women’s teams. In fact, we used to joke that we could bust our balls for a few year coaching guys and then “retire” by moving over to the women’s side.

The hardest, most drama-filled seasons were always the ones with the guys, and the more talented the male athletes, the harder they were to manage. If things got tough (ie we were losing), guys would tend to quit, or bitch incessantly, or fight with each other, or question the coach’s authority. Sometimes they would physically fight…no joke.

I rarely had these problems with the women’s team, and if I did, it was at such a low level as to be barely noticeable. The female athletes got along better, they never quit, they were mentally tougher, they were grinders, they supported one another. For me, sports coaching is like real life but at the social, emotional, and physical boundaries of team dynamics. Competition reveals individual character, and the more demanding the competition, the more it reveals.

So yeah, I think women do make better workers in at the workplace. I don’t think it’s good or bad, I think it is what it is. I also think the overwhelming majority of guys are beta and have below average social intelligence, which is a big reason why there are more chicks than dudes in the workforce now. Basically, guys are too jackassey and they’re getting passed over for jobs. But part of me likes it this way. As an alpha dog, I want to be a team player but I don’t want to be known as being unambitious or docile. I stand out because I’m edgy and I rock the boat just a little bit.

  • Honey

    I would say that women are capable of managing themselves, whereas men always have to be managed by others, and that’s the big difference. Obviously there are exceptions in both camps, but they ARE exceptions.

    We had a guy working in our office (the faculty ratio is not as skewed but the support staff is almost all women) in an equivalent position to mine (we had the same manager). He was fired because 1) he wasn’t performing on as high of a level as the female employees, and 2) he did NOT play well with the manager, who was a woman.

    This post makes me wonder – is there analagous language to “alpha” and “beta” that applies to women? Is it assumed that all women are socially adept? Obviously alpha men are more successful in social situations, is the same true of women? Is there a way to define a female alpha/beta without reducing relationship dynamics to a D/s equivalent?

    I would also observe that the reason I love my job is because of the stable and harmonious office environment. I wouldn’t take any other job unless it paid at least $10K more than this one because after the retirement contribution and higher marginal tax rate, it would have to be a raise of at least that much to have a significant effect on my take-home pay. I would also never take a job with an unpleasant office environment no matter how much it paid.

    I care less about “proving myself” (because at every job I’ve ever had, I’ve been given copious praise and made myself indispensable in under a year – with the exception of waitressing, and that’s because I hated it). I care more about doing something I enjoy with people that I like. And FWIW, Jake’s come around to my way of thinking. Once his debt’s paid off he is seriously considering taking a job in his field but in the public sector, which would be about a 30% decrease in his pay but a 50% decrease in the number of hours he works and an untold but significant improvement in the office environment.

    It’s interesting that you say you’ve job-hopped quite a bit. I had a summer internship, a couple waitressing gigs, and the odd bit of contract work here and there, but other than that have basically only had 3 jobs:

    1. English Dept. at my undergrad institution (for 4 years, junior year through my MA),
    2. the English Dept. where I got my PhD (for 5 years), and
    3. My current job (2 years with no flagging of interest on my part).

    I’ve only applied for 2 other jobs since getting this one and that was because I had the skill set to do the jobs and they both would have entailed SIGNIFICANT raises ($15K more for one and a minimum of $20K for the other).
    .-= Honey´s last blog …There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why =-.

  • Kat Wilder

    Well, I think that Atlantic article was quite a bit off the mark.

    I can’t say I’ve liked my female bosses more than my male bosses; women are competitive, too, but they’re not upfront about it. Women can be easier to work with but that’s because so many of us agree to do something, and then B&M about it instead of negotiating or just flat out saying no. And, we’re still cheaper than men (salary-wise, that is).

    Sure, more women are getting degrees right now. School still isn’t geared too well for boys (and as a mom to a male teen, I know that all too well!)

    But it isn’t the end of men — we are in a huge sociological shift that, I hope, will equalize the sexes. It’s been tipped toward men for generations, now it’s leaning the other way, but we need both sexes and I hope we start appreciating the differences instead of seeing them as where the other sex “fails.”

    I certainly don’t want some woman to look at my son and think he’s irrelevant, ya know?
    .-= Kat Wilder´s last blog …Would renewable contracts save marriage =-.

  • The Beautiful Kind

    I’m all in favor of a matriarchal society. I’d rather we live like bonobos than chimpanzees.

    Interesting line from the article: “the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success.”

    One more reason your boss prefers female employees is because they are cheaper. Men still make more than women for the same job. Wage gap 2010: 77 cents for every dollar

    TOTALLY FUCKED UP. Biology fact: Eggs are precious; sperm is cheap.
    .-= The Beautiful Kind´s last blog …You Are The Beautiful Kind- Luna =-.

  • Hammer

    That salary thing is a myth, sorry:

    Also, how can you “appreciate the differences” between the sexes if you refuse to acknowledge that there are differences?
    .-= Hammer´s last blog …Swype Beta Reopens =-.

  • Honey

    Jake says that “appreciating the differences” between groups ALWAYS fosters discontent. Emphasizing the ways in which we are all the same and the things we have in common is the only way to harmony. He thinks this goes for race relations, orientation, and gender equally.
    .-= Honey´s last blog …There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why =-.

  • Hammer

    Well then he is wrong. Trying to compare the differences between men and women to the differences between racial or ethnic groups is beyond idiotic, it’s not even worth discussing because there are literally no similarities.
    .-= Hammer´s last blog …Swype Beta Reopens =-.

  • Honey

    Obviously I am giving more credibility to the guy who I have been in a fantastic relationship with for over four years :-)
    .-= Honey´s last blog …There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why =-.

  • The Beautiful Kind

    Just watched the flick 9 to 5. WOW it was made in 1980 and we’re still dealing with those issues THIRTY YEARS LATER. Unacceptable.
    .-= The Beautiful Kind´s last blog …Lovemoiselle Elodie =-.

  • Honey

    FANTASTIC movie, TBK! But yes, the issue itself is quite sad and frustrating.
    .-= Honey´s last blog …There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why =-.

  • Shannon

    Hmm, interesting article. I have a string of thoughts versus one big thought, so splitting it up…

    Work: I work in the same career as you and yeah, AEs, front desk people and whatnot are primarily women, developers are ALWAYS men. (In my area, project managers, directors and designers can swing both ways.) As far as men being more likely to jump around, I think it boils down to the question of what employers are doing to make their employees want to leave, male or female.

    I’ve been laid off a ton for knee-jerk reasons (company mergers, “new direction”, etc), so I am incredibly distrustful of employers, especially in this economy. As I think about it, nearly every one of my main employers has been a man and I first wondered if I would have had more luck being kept if it was females in charge. The female director I used to work for was high on me and went to bat for me a lot, but I was let go at the same time she took off.

    On the other hand, I then remembered that the problems at my job prior to that started when a politician-like female came on board and wielded too much influence with the board of directors and whatnot. She was complete poison to the company and destroyed what was once a good thing.

    I chuckled at your weenies description of developers, heh, it is true. I have worked alongside the short guy with thick glasses more than I can count. Oddly enough, no matter where I go, that guy is *always* engaged / soon to be married.

    Sports: I agree with you here. One of the things that drove me nuts in high school was when one guy would make one bad move or whatnot and the rest of his teammates would rip into him. Big deal, it’s just a friggin’ game that will be completely forgotten about following the next period bell!

    Anyway, I think one issue there is that coaches aren’t so willing to put their egotistical “star players” in their place when they’re being poor sports. A lesson in humility would not be a bad thing for them to experience.

  • Honey

    I just read a response to this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education online (you need a subscription to access so the link won’t work, sorry). It was basically looking at the issue through the lens of postcolonial theory (mainly Edward Said’s On Orientalism, which was surprising because while it is a watershed text in that area, it’s a little dated and there’s lots more contemporary *feminist* postcolonial theory to draw on…I was shocked that the author didn’t mention Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak at least as a throwaway).

    I thought this was interesting because when I took a postcolonial theory class in grad school, I wrote my term paper applying postcolonial theory to white women activists in the progressive era in the U.S. So I think there’s a lot to be said for the claim, which is this: oftentimes the dominant members of a society (men, in this case) do not anticipate that including subordinate members as equals will necessarily lead to a profound shift in culture. Which is sort of shocking, but then again maybe not. It’s sort of a third-order enthymeme, when you really think about it…
    .-= Honey´s last blog …There Are More Women At Work And This Is Why =-.

  • Honey

    Just read another CHE response to this, citing a study that shows in 67 of 120 nations studied, more women complete Bachelor’s degrees (or equivalent) than men.
    .-= Honey´s last blog …Eat Pray Love vs The Expendables Time To Man Up =-.

  • Andi

    Of course more woman complete the Bachelor’s degree. That’s because the vast majority of women today wants to become the succesfull career-woman who’s independent from her husband.

    About the thing that more women are employed – I discovered for myself that the working atmosphere is much better with at least some women in the team instead of a team with all men.
    .-= Andi´s last blog …MALIE 7 Zonen Kaltschaummatratze im Test =-.

  • Aplus

    What can I say women rule.