Is Life Really Easier For Men?
As a transgender female, I have the unique experience of having seen life from both sides. The differences are massive.
My Personal Discoveries
- I am judged on my most recent performance, not on the aggregate of my past performances. I am always proving myself anew.
I have over 40 years of non-profit experience. I have been a chief development officer, a president, a CEO/Chairman and a non-executive chairman. Nowadays, most of that knowledge is not acknowledged, nor is it sought after. I understand this may be more complicated than gender inequity. It may be because my body of work as a male is generally unknown. Nevertheless, even when only taking into account my work as a female, I find I am judged on my most recent performance, not on the aggregate of my past performances. I am always proving myself.
- My age used to give me an edge. My age now costs me my edge and makes me virtually invisible.
When I was an older white male with salt and pepper hair, my presence in a room gave me a gravitas I did not fully recognize. People assumed I knew what I was talking about. Now, as an older woman, my age puts me at a deficit, time and again. It is important to note, however, that I do not experience that to be the case in primarily female environments.
- Apparently I have become stupid. A lot of my time is spent listening to men explain things that I know far better than the man doing the explaining.
Men assume I am less knowledgeable than they are on virtually every subject. If I point that out, I am seen as too aggressive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mechanic at a bike shop, or a gate agent at an airport, or the CEO of a non-profit half the size of the one I used to direct. I am constantly talked over and talked down to. I have even had people mansplain to me about information they learned from one of my own books! Mansplaining is real.
- The best ideas are not necessarily chosen. The most powerful person’s ideas are chosen.
The best ideas are not necessarily chosen. The most powerful person’s ideas are chosen. When you are the most powerful person in the room, it is easy to assume your ideas are the best ideas. Most people are not inclined to challenge you, and your ideas prevail. If you are an older woman, your ideas will rarely be seen as the best ideas.
- If I am seen as too feminine, I am ignored. If I am too masculine, I am seen as too aggressive.
Until I suggested they stop, coworkers in a previous job would ask, “Was that Paula who showed up at that meeting or Paul?” I told them that being forceful did not mean I was reverting to my life as a male. It meant I felt passionately about the subject.
- Women with whom I work who do not lead in a typically male way are completely ignored in meetings dominated by men.
Brilliant ideas that have been collaboratively created by women working together are not considered unless I own my alpha leadership abilities and champion the cause of the women who are the geniuses behind the ideas. Otherwise, the ideas of those women never find a hearing. It makes me wonder how often that happened in my past life, when I did not have eyes to see the non-alpha women in the room.
- Sometimes I don’t get the contract, not because I am a female, but because I am transgender.
The most surprising aspect of this observation is the places in which it happens. I know radical feminists are sometimes resentful of transgender women. They feel we are just one more example of males usurping power. But I did not expect to find it in other typically liberal settings. Liberals want everyone to know they are supportive of transgender people, but I believe there is an implicit bias that causes them to see us as less qualified than others. If I listed these ten items based on how often they are experienced, I am afraid this would be listed first.
- The AAUW, in existence since the 1800s, does an annual study, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. The most recent study indicated women earn 78 percent of their male co-workers. African American women earn 64 percent. Native American women earn 59 percent. Hispanic women earn 56 percent. Only four states have pay equity for women – Massachusetts/Illinois/Oregon/North Dakota.
- In the American church, women earn 76% of what men in comparable positions earn.But the top four positions in the evangelical church – lead pastor – teaching pastor -executive pastor and worship pastor, are positions not generally available to women. Of the 100 largest churches in America, none have a lead pastor who is female, and 93 percent of the men are white.
- According to the Annenberg School of USC, 28.1% of characters in 2014’s top 100 films were female and only 21% had a female lead or co-lead.Of the same films, less than 2 percent of the directors were women, 11.2 percent of the writers were women and 18.9 percent of the producers.
- Seventeen percent of the biographies on Wikipedia are of females.The vast majority of Wikipedia curators are white males.
- In 2017, 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were female, and only 22 percent of senior vice presidents were females.
- In 2010, women made up 47 percent of first and second year law firm associates, but only 15 percent were full-fledged partners.
- In the world of technology, women constitute 22 percent of software engineers and 6 percent of chief executives at top technology companies.
Four Overlooked Contributors to Gender Inequity
- Religion plays a greater role in American society than we acknowledge. The religion that has the greatest impact on American culture is Christianity, and particularly evangelical Christianity.
1.1 Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, is a desert religion. Desert religions are religions of scarcity. That does not bode well for gender, racial, or socioeconomic equity.
1.2 A majority of evangelicals teach that God ordained male leadership. Therefore it is implicit among non-overtly religious men, and explicit among evangelical males.
1.3 Few on both coasts understand the effect of conservative religious teaching on gender inequity. Complementarianism, the view that men should be in charge of women, is the primary religious teaching in the 28 states in which evangelicalism and fundamentalism are the dominant religions.
- Most men are unaware of the innate (structured in advance of experience) male tendency to evaluate the power structures in a room by determining rank, beginning with an alpha leader.
2.1 If the alpha happens to be a female, they will undermine her.
2.2 Once the alpha has been established, and the ranking in relation to the alpha is clear, men will work together to accomplish the objectives of the leader.
2.3 Women innately (meaning organized or structured in advance of experience) are more collaborative than men. But if they feel threatened, they can be forced into a non-collaborative stance. Many women do not thrive in vertical leadership structures.
- Many men have never been made aware of the way in which testosterone affects their interaction with others.
3.1 Straight men tend to innately (structured in advance of experience) sexualize women. If they can acknowledge this, they can also acknowledge that they have agency to refuse to act on it. That is, in fact, the definition of what it means to be civilized.
3.2 Many of today’s males in the 28 states above grew up in the Purity Movement. They were taught to deny their basic sexuality, which resulted in shame. Shame makes it difficult to accept the reality of the affects of testosterone. That person is less likely to exercise agency in not sexualizing women. This is a huge problem for clergy.
3.3 There have been 11,000 allegations of sexual abuse against 5,000 priests in the United States between 1980 and today. It is estimated that one percent of priests have been guilty of sexual assault. The Roman Catholic Church in the US has paid out 1.5 billion in sexual assault claims.
3.4 In one twenty year period, the three largest insurance companies that insure Protestant churches in the United States paid out 7,095 claims for sexual assault against clergy or volunteers, 99.5 percent of which were male.
- There is not enough being done to create non-agentic and non-hierarchical systems of leadership that will play to the natural strengths of females and males who are non-agentic or non-alpha.
4.1 A woman has to navigate a path between assimilating into masculine traditions and resisting them.
4.2 Some function more like men. All they desire is access.
4.3 Some women prefer the traditions of femininity. They prefer to work collaboratively. Unfortunately, these women are seen as a bad fit for jobs that require authority and power
4.4 Many growing entrepreneurially minded non-profit organizations have turned to a triune model of leadership. They have three co-executives as opposed to a typical hierarchical system of CEO/COO/CFO/CTO, etc. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) functions as the CEO.
4.5 These systems function well if they have leaders with a high EQ, and have clearly defined job responsibilities.
Seven Things Men Can Do To Move Us Toward Gender Equity
- Invite us to the meeting.Do not avoid having women in the meeting because “it changes the tone.” The tone needs to be changed. The more female leaders there are, the more supported both junior and senior women feel.
1.2 Make sure meetings are broken into unranked smaller discussions.
1.3 Make sure you interact one-on-one with every person in the room.
- Listen, don’t talk.Make sure every woman in the room speaks before you speak. If you are in charge, make sure no man speaks before every woman speaks.
- Make sure women get credit for their ideas.Women are less likely to have their ideas correctly attributed to them. They are also not acknowledged as being more effective than men in a number of areas:
- Hire and promote mothers.Female job applicants with children are 44 percent less likely to be hired than childless women with similar qualifications.
4.1 Do not assume mothers are not dedicated enough. Instead, assume your systems are designed for men with full-time homemakers at home. The system needs changed, not the mother.
- Don’t reinforce stereotypes about women’s emotionality.There is no evidence that women are more emotional at work than men.
5.1 The primary emotion shown at work by men is anger. Anger is more accepted for men than it is for women.
- Be aware of implicit bias.
6.1 A man who stays late for work is evaluated 14 percent more favorably than a woman who does so. Yet when neither stays late, the woman was docked for it, given a 12 percent lower rating, while a man was not. New York University
6.3 Women are twice as likely to feel burnout as men,in part because men get five more hours of leisure time a week than women. And in part because women have to prove their competence over and over.
American Sociological Review74 No. 2 April, 2009