Thursday, November 1, 2007

Does my butt look big in this budget statement?

There is a really interesting piece in the NYT today by Lisa Belkin that rounds up a bunch of the research on perceptions of different kinds of female behavior in the workplace. The gist of it is:

...whatever was most valued, women were seen as lacking it.
On the one hand, the research that she cites seems like real research, and inasmuch as sociology research is science, that's pretty real. The studies are ingenious -- hiring students to play Boggle and telling they'll be paid some amount between $2 and $10. In that one, most of the women accepted the first (low) offer without further question, and most of the men didn't.


But I was also thinking to myself as I read this article: gosh, all this navel gazing about how we're perceived in the workplace seems like a big distraction from actually getting the work done, doesn't it? I was reminded of the fashion magazines' relentless nitpicking on female appearance. Is my hair glossy enough? Do I have bilbobaggins under my eyes? Should I be thinking about laser surgery? Does my butt look big in this? And I've noticed that if you try not to spend time caring about whether your butt looks big, it frees up your time for fun things like reading a book, enjoying a run around the block with your kids, or blogging.

So the corollary: If I'm spending any of my time fretting over whether I got too angry or not angry enough in that workplace situation, it seems like some of my valuable brainpower is not directed at my work.

Although apparently directing the full force of my brain at work will make me seem like a grind, and that's a negative quality for a woman.

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