June 26, 2005
I recently picked up the debut issue of Pink, a new magazine for professional women. The thing that caught my eye was an article called “Get Fired Like a Man”. 🙂 Actually it turned out to be a good article for anyone who is entering the ranks of upper management, about how to negotiate a golden parachute in advance. Cause isn’t that what equality means? — that mediocre executives can be well-distributed among all genders, ethnicities, and sexual preferences? I have a dream! (I’m actually serious — I believe that excellence can take care of itself, so it’s not as good a measure of structural inequality as mediocrity.)
Generally I thought it was a good magazine, but… just once I’d like to read an article about a female businessperson that doesn’t mention her marital status, hairdo, and whether she goes to her kids’ soccer games. I do not give a rat’s ass about any business leader’s private life, male or female, except insofar as they have quirky hobbies like playing ice hockey or building replicas of the Titanic out of toothpicks. And when I flip through Business 2.0 or Fortune, they maybe have a single article per issue about work-life balance — not ten articles. In fact, I would like to see an article called “Blow Off Work-Life Balance Like a Man”.
Actually, one of the most innovative features of the magazine is that they take the line that female execs should “get over it” in their relationships to service providers — who may happen to be other women. For example, just get a housecleaner and stop guilting yourself out about it. Or just send a young associate on an onerous weekend trip instead of going yourself — hey, it’s an opportunity for brownie-points for him/her. Or just make your executive assistant come in at 9AM to open up so you can roll into the office at 10 when you prefer. Or if push comes to shove, make your younger employees go without health insurance so you can get yours first. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with any of these ideas, but it’s fascinating that someone needs to tell women it’s OK to do things like this — things that amount to using your power to make your life better, even if it means throwing off on other people, because you are creating more value than they are. I’m not sure men anyone to tell them that using power for your own convenience is one of the upsides of getting older and more powerful. 🙂