Why Women Are Dropped

In the middle of the 80’s, I thought we were on our way. I was wrong.

Women are still often dropped just for being women, especially in managerial positions. I have consistently favored men to women during my career as a recruiter. A man will not become pregnant and will not nurse children. Women with children are already doing a full-time job. Therefore, they often are excluded in the race for top positions in a company. It is too expensive to appoint an “unreliable” manager who may not be there every day.
That is what it sounded like in “my” business world in Scandinavia until I had done some rethinking and began working towards equal opportunities. I do not even dare to think of how many women I have participated in stopping during 25 years as a consultant within recruiting and executive search. Nothing of the above was said openly, of course, but behind closed doors. And sadly, it is still not unusual.
However, there are movements against sexism—especially among men who will not tolerate this way of thinking and women who dare to report the worst assaults. We are moving slowly forward but we will only get there when competence will be more important than gender.
A Problem That Must Be Solved
A major problem that needs to be solved is the difference in wages between women and men at the same level/position in a company. After all, you are valued as a person by your salary, and by your bonuses or your stock options (though very few of us have any bonuses!) In the end, the monthly pay check is what counts—it shows how much you are worth as a human being and how you are valued by your employer. The problem in Scandinavia is that, even if a woman and a man have the same education, the same number of years within the industry, the same age and more or less have the same experience as managers, the woman will get a lower salary. (I’m talking about same salary for the same type of job, and no, its not socialism.)
People who work with children are less valued than those who work within finance, drugs and weapons. Why? Working with children has never had a high status. And in general, men are not interested in working/being with children—including their own. What men say about quality time (with their kids) as opposed to quantity of time is sheer nonsense. Men don’t prefer to spend time with children mainly due to environmental influence. They see it as a low income job.
In the middle of the 80’s, I thought we were on our way. Books about femininity and masculinity were written and the subject was often an issue in seminars in Sweden. Most managers were men, of course, and it became fashionable to talk about the androgenic manager—a man who uses his feminine side in order to gain what is called “social competence.” And we talked a lot about salaries. A lot. But nothing, really, came out of these discussions; the “androgenic” man disappeared and the salary gap continued to grow.
Are We Afraid Regarding What Women Will Do?
So what happens when women earn more money and can dictate their own lifestyle?
The benefits are obvious. They will experience advantages that we men always have experienced, at least in Scandinavia. Things like: Less diapers, more golf, a glass of wine with friends in a cosy restaurant, watching handsome guys by the bar, or going to a basketball match.

One thing is obvious. If we men are going to share more of the responsibility for the contents of our lives, women will start to take their share of the apple and we men will initially feel like losers. But trust me: men can only grow as human beings with that experience.
All women won’t be winners. Some are always losers—someone has to take care of the children and someone has to take care of the household. But if I have understood things right, in Scandinavia this someone will be a female immigrant.
Posted by Lars Einar Engström on May 16, 2012 12:30 PM America/New_York

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Lars--I appreciate the brutal honesty of your post. I agree that closing the pay gap is critical. I think Matt Wallaert, one of our MARC members, would agree. He's actually created a website to help close the gender pay gap. Check it out. https://getraised.com<br><br>
You also raise the very important issue of how gender, class and ethnicity interact. Class privilege allows some women to have both a demanding career and a family by relying on less privileged women--not men--to shoulder the child-rearing and household responsibilities. This arrangement of course does nothing to change the discourse about gender roles and perhaps reinforces the idea that child-rearing/care-giving work is not valuable work.
  • Posted Fri 18 May 2012 11:23 AM EDT
Candid thoughts, Lars.

Competent professional women are dropped because of men’s fears about their own learning and liberation. Frankly, it’s an issue of bravery.
Men value what we feel competent in, and devalue what we don’t feel competent in. If we don’t practice, we don’t become competent. Most of us are way out of practice in things of value.
Culture has encouraged men to feel entitled to assign value that honors male competence. In that position, there’s no growth, no freedom, and no living.

As food for thought, I know women and men who believe some financially-successful men are the losers when it comes to reaching the end of their lives and realizing they’ve been alone and are alone.
There is more than one value in the world. Some women believe they are winners when they stay home and take care of a household. Some win in other ways.

It’s always difficult to see other men show contempt for their own early years and those who care for children in general. Hard to imagine more self-hatred than that.

Cheers to all of us who forge forward in the learning, growing and becoming more competent and alive conversations.

  • Posted Sun 20 May 2012 01:21 PM EDT
I agree with you Tracy and I also thinks its sad with men who regret that they have been running so fast (while life was going on) just to try to become numero uno.
  • Posted Mon 21 May 2012 02:55 AM EDT


Does your workplace empower men to take part in gender initiatives?

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