The Glass Ceiling and other things that need to be broken

“It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass.  Virtually invisible.  What we need is for more birds to fly above it, and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.”

– Caitlin Moran


At the moment, I am reading one of the best books I have ever read.  How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran is described by The Independent as: ‘Engaging, brave and consistently, cleverly, naughtily funny.’ Some reviewers have said that this is a book that EVERY woman should read; I’ll go one step further, I believe every woman AND man should read this book.

The book isn’t just about Moran’s opinion on what it means to be a woman, it is a searing social commentary. It addresses women’s weight and body image; modern feminism; love, marriage, children and family; abortion; fashion; role models and so much more.  Moran’s syle of writing is funny and achingly honest.  It’s painful to read, but you can’t help yourself from laughing.

The entire book deserves attention and praise, but for this post, I want to focus on her chapter on Sexism and The Glass Ceiling. Moran describes sexism and The Glass Ceiling in a way that is not very PC; funny but uncomfortable:

Most sexism is down to men being accustomed to us being the losers.  That’s what the problem is.  We just have bad status. For men born pre-feminism, this is what they were raised on: second-class citizen mothers; sisters who need to be married off; female schoolmates going to secretarial school, then becoming housewives. Women who disengaged. Disappeared.

These men are the CEOs of our big companies, the big guys on the stock markets, the advisors to governments.  They dictate working hours and maternity leave, economic priorities and societal mores. And, of course, they don’t feel equality in their bones – sexism runs deep in their generation. Their automatic reaction is to regard women as ‘other.’

Even those men born post-feminism, raised on textbooks and marches and their own mothers leaving each morning for the office, however much they might believe in the theoretical equality of women, and respect those around them . . . have a quiet voice inside them that says ‘If women are the true equals of men, where’s the proof?’ And it is not just a voice inside men.  It’s inside women too . . . Creativity, we silently fretted should really have begun the moment legislation changed.  All manner of female incredibleness – pent up for centuries – should have been unleashed; flattening trees for thousands of miles around, like a pyroclastic blast.  But it wasn’t.  Because simply being able to vote isn’t the same as true equality.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook gives her opinion of why we have too few women leaders. She explains that as a general rule the data shows that women systematically underestimate their own abilities, while men generally overestimate their own. Men tend to attribute their success to themselves and women attribute it to external factors. Men tend to think they did a good job because they themselves are good at their job, whereas women will often say they had to work extra hard or that someone helped them. Sanderberg stresses that women need to start believing they deserve their own success.

An important factor that Sandberg describes as vitally important is that success and likability are positively correlated for men, but negatively correlated for women. In the following TED Talk, Sandberg talks about a study that strikingly illustrates this.

Both Caitlin Moran’s book and Sheryl Sandberg’s talk caused discomfort in a way, yet were incredibly eye-opening for me. It’s easy to blame men for “keeping us down” – but the reality is that we, as women, have a responsibility to make the changes ourselves.  We have to not only believe that we are equal and deserve to be treated as such, but to get out there and do what needs to be done.  That doesn’t mean that we have to act like men, and if our brains are wired differently, maybe that’s not even possible.  And considering the state of politics and the environment, I for one am not convinced that the present mode of leadership is the best way anyway.  But if women want a chance to make a difference and to take the lead, then we have to do it for ourselves.  We have to step up. And a good way to start is to read How To Be a Woman and watch Why we have too few women leaders.

Please take the time to comment, I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Women and Men – maybe not so different after all?

“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”

– George Carlin


Ok, so I have to admit it.  I have learned so much from this recent argument with my husband. I guess I can even say that I appreciated the argument!

Yes absolutely men’s and women’s brains work differently.

There are fundamental variations between male and female brains that mean we communicate and respond to situations differently. In a relationship, these differences can unintentionally cause misunderstanding and conflict. It’s generally accepted now that women tend to be wired towards empathy, whereas men develop stronger interest in systems, or how things work and that impacts on how we speak and deal with people.

Neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir, who featured in the video I posted about men and women being wired differently, believes that a better understanding of how we are wired differently will help us argue less. Well it certainly helped me move to a place of compassion.  After doing research and having a better understanding of how our brains differ, I was able to soften toward Jeff and better understand where he was coming from.

It also helped incredibly having a wonderfully rich and fascinating discussion with my dear friends, Jan and Trev.  They are both interested in neuroscience.  Jan with her background in Psychosynthesis; and Trev with an eclectic background and a wide range of studies, both helped me untangle and look at this stuff in a new way.

But actually the experience that really catapulted me into understanding was a situation I had with my own sister.  We had a disagreement about something, and she pointed out accurately that I went straight to my head about the situation, while she went to her heart, and emotionally she did not feel met.  I felt judged by her (as Jeff had said that he felt judged by me) and my sister said she felt like we were in completely different places while trying to communicate (the same thing that I had said to Jeff.)  It was fascinating, and yes, rather uncomfortable.  I had to really back-pedal on so much that I had laid on Jeff!  What an incredible learning experience.

I have several videos that I found educational and enlightening that I would like to share:

There is an educational one just describing an fMRI and how it works.

 

Then there is an intersting video from animal planet about male and female brains

 

There are also two interesting videos from talk shows, Jane and The View that feature the Neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Amen, where he describes fMRIs of men and women and points out the differences.

 

 

 

Maybe you’ll find all of these videos overload, too much information.  But I found it incredibly helpful. And navigating relationships is tough in the best of times.  I can use all the help I can get!

I’d love to hear what helps you navigate your relationship. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Feminization of Leadership

“Great necessities call forth great leaders.”

– Abigail Adams


Recent studies highlight a long-held suspicion about the brains of males and females. They’re not the same. I’m fascinated by the fact that men and women’s brains operate differently.

When I first started researching this, I wanted to learn more about how this impacted me personally, in relationship to the different communication styles between my husband and I. But the more I read about this, the more interesting it became on a much wider level.

A recent study showed Six Things Women Do Better Than Men. 

  1. Women handle stress better
  2. Women are better at sustaining relationships
  3. Women are better at communicating
  4. Women are better at grooming themselves
  5. Women have sharper memory
  6. Women are better with finances

Now of course this is a tendency, not a rule, and there are lots of things that men tend to do better than women. But this list interested me when put in combination with a discussion of a change in leadership style that is happening globally as the Baby Boomers retire and Gen X and Gen Y take the helm. A recent studey reported on CNN shows:

The rise of women into positions of power will create a “feminization” of leadership which will be reflected in the increasing importance of emotional intelligence, people skills and flexibility. The demands of the X and Y generations are aligned to the skill-set of female leadership styles.

Hanna Rosin, author and journalist, gives a fascinating TED Talk about the Rise of Women. She talks about Women’s skill sets and the new economy.

What the economy requires now is a whole different set of skills. You basically need intelligence, you need inability to sit still in focus, to communicate openly, to be able to listen to people and operate in a workplace that is much more fluid than it used to be. And those are things that women do extremely well as we’re seeing. If you read management books now, a leader is somebody who can foster creativity, who can get the employees to talk to each other, who can basically build teams and get them to be created. Those are things that women do very well.

I don’t know if this is really The End of Men, as Rosin’s book proclaims, but it is a fascinating theme.

 

 

Have you experienced The Feminization of Leadership?   Please take the time to share your stories.  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Are Men and Women Wired Differently?

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”

– Katherine Hepburn


I just had the most delicious conversation with my dear friend Tam.  She and I have been friends for over 30 years.  When we talk, we go straight to heart level, which I value so much and crave so deeply.  As a woman, this need for deep heart connection is so important to me. And this brings me to the essence of this post,  yet another layer of stuff my husband and I are working through. 

I won’t go into the full background of the latest turmoil, it’s more than a argument or disagreement – it feels like a deep mis-understanding of the sexes.  Our communication feels like he’s trying to connect from the head and me from the heart, and I end up feeling like a bleeding mess in a puddle in the corner and he is trying to analize why and how it happened and what exactly was said to get there and what words can deal with it. 

After talking to Tam and to my sister and a couple of other friends, I noticed once again, not surprisingly that men and women really communicate differently. So I decided to do some research, and I found that it’s not surprising that we communicate so differently because research shows that men’s brains don’t work the same way that women’s brains work.   There is so much new research out there showing us beyond a shadow of a doubt that men and women are wired differently.

According to psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, the female brain is wired to empathize and the male brain is characterized by its tendency to systemize. The male brain seeks to develop a set of logical rules that guide another person’s behavior. When a man can’t understand someone else’s behavior through logic, he tends to become confused about how to proceed.  Women, on the other hand, may be more empathetic because their brains’ mirror neurons are more sensitive than men’s. Mirror neurons cause us to imitate emotions and actions that we’re exposed to. One theory is that women’s mirror neurons allow them to more easily hone in on another person’s emotional cues.

This quote just made so much sense to me!  I get so frustrated because it feels like my husband is trying to understand me “logically” – and does not understand emotional cues.  But if he’s not wired to do so, can I hold this against him?  Ah there’s the rub.  So I guess we just keep trying to find the common ground, and to work through this morass called relationship.

This video clip is a long one, well over an hour, but if you are interested in this subject, please do take the time to watch it, it offers some fascinating information on the brain differences between men and women.

 

 

I’d love to hear what helps you communicate better and how you make your relationships work. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.