Friday, April 16, 2010

What?!?!? or Writing Poorly Reasoned Blog Posts Seems to be the Path to Becoming a Professional Blogger

bNet currently has a very odd post written by Penelope Trunk about the bad career advice women give each other.  Why don't we dive right in:
When I was starting my career, I was in the software industry, where there are few women. And then I moved into the tech startup world, where there are even fewer women. The whole time, I have found that older men gave me great career advice and older women gave me bad advice. I am not sure why this is, but I am pretty sure that most women around my age (43) have had similar experiences. They just won’t talk about it publicly.
Oh yeah, well I've had horrible advice given to me by men!  Some of the worst advice I have received involves confusing anecdotes for data.

Anyway, let's move on to the worst advice this blogger has received from some women:
1) You can wait to have kids. There’s no rush.

Of course there’s a rush. Your chances of having a Down Syndrome baby skyrocket after you are older than 35. If you have two kids after age 30, you will probably have a miscarriage. Sixty percent of women do. And you’ll want time between kids. Most women do.
You know what, I'll give her this one, though I think something broader is required; it is important to strike a good and healthy work life/personal life balance.  The appropriate balance is going to vary between people, but it is good to make such decisions thoughtfully, with as much pertinent information as possible.

Moving on:
2) Report sexual harassment, even if it’s just a minor infraction.

This was good advice for the 1970s, when people didn’t believe it was happening. But now everyone knows it happens all the time. Please find me one woman who did not experience some sort of inappropriate behavior from a man during her first five years of work. We all know it’s happening. But we also know that there is no longer a salary gap between men and women, and we know that there are more unemployed men than women. So it’s hard to show that women are actually victimized at work today.
Wait, what?  There's no need to complain about sexual harassment because everybody knows it's going on?  First off, no, they don't.  Many people are not sufficiently aware to notice these things.  Second, in an age where we are, generally, more aware of these things, it should be easier to report them.  There should be fewer ramifications if you do (the key word there is "should").

Further, what on earth does the comparative salaries of men and women, on aggregate, have to do with anything?  A pay raise doesn't make you a sex toy.  Parity in the pay scale of men and women doesn't have anything to do with a specific incident of sexual harassment.  The fact that male and female CEOs will, ceteris paribus, make the same amount of money does not change the power structure of a senior male employee harassing a junior female employee.

Mercifully, this post only lists three "bad" pieces of advice:
3) Read business books to become a good leader.

Forget it. Most business books are written by men, and the latest research shows that men and women lead differently. Above all, women who lead like women do better than women who try to lead like men.
So women shouldn't read business books because they're written by men and men won't give the best career advice for women.  And this argument is coming from a female author who gets her career advice from men.  Huh.

(H/T: Evil Hr Lady, who is a great source of career advice, also blogs at bNet and has a more detailed response to Ms. Trunk here.  Further great career advice - from women! - can be found at Ask A Manager and Punk Rock HR.)

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