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N. A. Mowmai: Straight talk from powerful women!

N.A. Mowmai's Latest Rants

Let it GO, ALREADY!

Just for grins, I asked my Facebook community what would be different if women had invented the business world. One of the participants was reminded of a response by Paul Rodriquez, a comedian. He imagines the British Prime Minister calling the U.S. President (who happens to be a woman), “Ma’am, we have detected the launch of several dozen nuclear missiles aimed at our capital . . .”

“Yes, I can confirm that,” replies the President.

“Well, can you tell us why you would do such a thing?” he asks.

“Oh, I think you KNOW!”

While you might be chuckling, I suspect you know exactly what I’m talking about.  How many times have you heard a girlfriend or female acquaintance say,

-          “I just can’t forgive _____________ for doing ________________.”

-          “I’ll never trust _______________ again.”

-          “That _________ she/he did ______________ and I’m going to ___________.”

And she’s not talking about her significant other but someone at work? She then embarks upon a relatively covert campaign against the offender. She won’t speak to that person (unless she must). Coffee or lunch is out of the question (unless others are present). You need access to her skills. Forget it…unless she is under the threat of some disciplinary action. She has taken her dolls and gone home.

The relationship has gone from friendly to cool in no time flat. Ten years from now she will be able to tell the story and relive the emotions just like it was yesterday. Jane or Jim may realize that something is wrong, but they have no clue what they have done to offend her. This is one of our less endearing traits in action. Woe unto the man or woman who transgresses.

Why can’t we just let it go? The men seem to do it easily. We don’t. The answer is partly our nature and partly our socialization. We are relationship oriented. We are friendly and we develop friendships, a deeper more intimate relationship. This makes conflict and injury personal for us. When a friend didn’t play nice or hurt us deeply, we could just quit playing with them or apply “pressure” to bring them back in line. That solution doesn’t work too well in the workplace.

While relationships are everything for us, men on the other hand, function somewhat independently making conflict and competition mostly impersonal. Don’t misunderstand, men do invest in relationships. However, they choose to be friendly rather than “friends”[1] operating with 3 basic rules:

1)      Don’t burn your bridges. You may need to cross them again someday. Men can engage in combat (vigorous debate and disagreement, fist-a-cuffs, whatever) and then go have a beer together when they are done. Staying friendly means later requests will likely be honored.

2)      Maintain your bridges. You never know when you will need them. Men can create, access and maintain much larger networks of resources with much less effort than we do.  For them, an investment may be coffee or the occasional phone call just to check in…no strings attached.

3)      Many bridges represent multiple options in difficult times. This allows them to make difficult decisions that impact others with more ease knowing there are more options available. That doesn’t mean they don’t wrestle with those decisions, but in the end logic will win out over their emotions.

Considering that we are supposed to be the gentle, caring, relationship-driven gender, we should probably take a cue from the men. Our inclination toward developing friendships often creates an obligation from our perspective of which the other party might not be aware and later results in hurt feelings on our part. Two more lessons from the guys:

1) All relationships have value. Therefore we should try to maintain them rather than abandon them. Avoid the nuclear option at all costs.

2) At work, it is OK to be just friendly with people rather than friends.


[1] The concept of friendly versus friends was first identified by Pat Heim in her book, Hardball for Women.

The Anti-Woman Agenda Hysteria: Please….Knock it Off!

If you search for “anti-woman agenda” you will find most of these stories arose recently and they concern discontinuing federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The message: To arms! Call your representatives! This is Anti-Woman. The GOP men are trying to take away your rights!

Please. Let’s get real and look at this logically for just a moment.

First, they are not repealing Roe v. Wade which made abortion legal. So calm down.

Second, can you find the proposed cuts in federal spending on this chart? Keep looking. They might be hard to find.

Yup. You found it. The little blue “dot” at the top of the next to last bar on the right represents $61 billion. That’s what all the hue and cry is about.

That little blue bar represents cuts that impact a number of special interest groups, but you don’t hear them crying that the GOP is anti-Big Bird (PBS), anti-rail or anything else. Several special interest oxen that support men, women, minorities, unions, farmers and other lobbies will be gored in this first round. Nobody wants to give up funding for their special program in the name of putting our nation back on the right track. Here’s a link to the list: http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=259

Family Planning is neither the largest nor smallest cut. Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps will also lose funding. There are probably others.

Most of these programs should be treated as private businesses and forced to exist in the Free Enterprise System, competing for private capital and market share. Let the market decide their fate.

Third, has anyone noticed the similarity between the anti-woman and anti-senior rhetoric? The liberals and media elites are using the same tactic they use on senior citizens with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Hint that their rights are being taken away and you can lead them around by the nose. Appalling.

It’s time to expose your tactics for what they are…hype. And while it is true that Planned Parenthood is on the chopping block, it will not cease to exist. It has the ability to raise private funds.  It will continue to exist if its fan base is a strong as its lobby. Have you no faith in your following?

It’s time for “we the people” to quit listening to the hype and start thinking for ourselves. As Helen Keller said:

People do not like to think.

If one thinks, one must reach conclusions.

Conclusions are not always pleasant.

I promise you that thinking is a much more profitable pursuit than being led around by the nose by those with an agenda.

Finally, the GOP in Congress is made up of men and WOMEN. They voted for these cuts as well. Do these women have an anti-woman agenda? I doubt it. Those of us who support these cuts don’t either. We are pro-America.

We love our nation and want it to survive. Even the current administration recognizes the tie between a sound financial footing and our national security. As you can see from the chart, we’ve been in trouble for a while. It is now time to pay the piper. If we don’t, well, we might not have a nation for our children to call their own.

Think about it!

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The chart is copyrighted material and used only with permission. If you would like to use this chart, please contact us.

Do Women have to Work Harder to Get Ahead?

One of the reasons women gave for our failure to shatter the “glass ceiling” in the 1980′s is that  women have to work harder than the men to get ahead. As the daughters of the women of my generation begin to enter the workforce, the same tired song is making a comeback. Do we really have to work harder?

So I looked at my own career. I began in 1985 as a systems programmer in the Information Technology department of a large oil company (two male dominated industries). Darryl started about the same time as I did in the same group.

We both worked hard to master the learning curve, demonstrate our competence and earn the trust of the older men in our group. After all, we wanted them to entrust to us decisions concerning the computing infrastructure and operations of a large Fortune 50 company. So, yes, we worked hard, but one did not necessarily work harder than the other.

Our careers advanced at about the same pace until I made a costly immature decision. Oh well, lesson learned. When I shifted, I advanced.

The demands on our personal time were high due to the nature of the work: 24×7 availability, on-call rotations, weekend only downtime. No one person worked more than the others in the group.

When Darryl married and later had children he struggled as all people do, “How do I balance the demands of work and family?” Having a family is not a woman’s issue. He had to work harder, in the sense that he had to divide his time between work and his additional responsibilities at home.

Later, one of my really great supervisors (a man), pointed out to me that I had reached a point where technical expertise was not going to help me advance. The next promotions required that I seek opportunities to develop leadership skills and expose myself to other parts of the business.

Great advice! My career took off, more than making up for the earlier penalties I incurred.

The lessons from my career suggest that advancement and compensation are less and less gender specific issues.

  • You will work hard to advance regardless of your gender. Success isn’t going to be handed to you.
  • How hard you work is a function of your choices. Be clear about the life and career you want to have and make conscious choices to bring it to fruition.
  • As you climb the ladder, leadership and interpersonal skills become increasingly important. Develop them!
  • Choose assignments and positions that will expose you to operational aspects of the business. You are in control of your career!

So, did I work harder than the men to advance? Not from my perspective. Do women today? Not that I can tell. It is more about the choices you make than your gender.

What do you think? Do women have to work harder? Or just hard?

Does the “Glass Ceiling” Really Exist?

According to Wikipedia1 the term “glass ceiling” was coined in 1979 by two women at Hewlett-Packard, Katherine Lawrence and Marianne Schreiber. Since then, it has been used to refer to the “invisible” barrier that prevents women and minorities from advancing into high ranking positions in business.

I’ve always heard the term, but generally disregarded it. So I’ll ask the question, does the “glass ceiling” really exist? It’s the favorite “reason” used to describe the failure of women to attain top level positions and close the “pay gap”.

However, data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that gender based discrimination is on the decline.2 An article in the economist suggests the disparity in pay is the result of women being judged by the same standards as men.3 In my opinion, that’s a victory!

Is it possible that today the glass ceiling is more myth than reality? What if it is nothing more than a self-limiting belief foisted upon us by the media and academia or previous generations of women? Have we created an excuse that now holds us back and excuses our failure?

“Breaking through” the glass ceiling is possible. Carly Fiorina is among the most recent notable successes and failures. She rose to power at Hewlett-Packard and declared the glass ceiling no longer existed there. Some time after being dethroned for failing to perform to shareholder expectations she said, “that was a dumb thing to say.”

I remember listening to Hillary Clinton’s concession speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In it, she referred to 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. She didn’t fail in her bid for the Presidency because of the “glass ceiling”. She failed to take candidate Obama seriously and step up her performance.

I don’t doubt that there are some men who actively try to prevent women from advancing, but I believe they are the exception rather than the rule. At some point, each person has to own the responsibility for their performance. And when you do, you realize: there is no one to blame. No man stands between you and the success you desire. The only one standing between you and the success you desire is YOU!

So what is your opinion? Feel free to comment! I look forward to the discussion.

“The glass ceiling is about 6 inches wide and less than 1 millimeter thick. It is very thin and fragile…and it exists primarily in the space between one’s ears.” ~ Leslie

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1 Background for this article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_ceiling
2 Reflections on the Glass Ceiling – 5 Keys to Thriving in a Male Dominated Workplace (soon to be released)
3 The Economist December 30, 2009 Female Power

TSA: Protectors, Progressive Pawns or Clueless Cowards

From 2000 through 2002, I was a “road warrior”. After September 11, 2001, I continued to travel heavily. Unfortunately, I have more stories about search abuse in the name of security than I can share.

Practically every airport I passed through searched me and/or my luggage. Why? They were too COWARDLY to search the men, many of whom were not Anglo-Saxon.  They assumed a petite Caucasian blonde female would happily comply. WRONG!

Today, I’m in McCarran in Las Vegas…another “random”, pat down search.  If it isn’t me, it’s Granny in a wheel chair. When will the clueless cowards at TSA get a clue!? Random is useless!

Now, as I sit here at the gate, the agent has just announced additional searches will be conducted. We are encouraged to comply to ease the boarding process. How stupid can TSA be? We’ve all cleared security already. Does McCarran have bomb making materials inside the terminal?

Flying is neither convenient nor fun.  Let’s see:

  • I can’t fly if I won’t submit to a random, ILLEGAL search of my person…though I have never committed a crime, nor am I suspected of one.
  • I can’t take my favorite beverage through security.
  • My cosmetics must fit in a in a one-quart Ziploc bag.
  • After November 1, I won’t be able to fly if I don’t provide Secure Flight Passenger Data.

I’m treated more like a Muslim terrorist than they are!

So far, our security measures have failed. Terrorism by airplane will happen again. The solution is simple: Vigilance. Arm every passenger who is an American citizen. If a terrorist knows he is boarding a plane where he doesn’t stand a chance, maybe he won’t try.

As George Washington said, “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good”.

Unfortunately, like compliant sheep, we’ve traded our liberty for security…and as Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

We have reared a generation of children who only know to trade their liberty for security. At the rate we are going, we will soon be deprived of both.

ENOUGH! It is time to say “NO!” to the Progressives for these intrusions upon our liberty. TSA is just another attempt to control us in the name of protection.

Thank you very much, but I think I can protect myself (and a few others around me) just fine!

Well, it is time to board. Five smiling, sharply dressed and gloved agents are standing at attention as we file past. First class, Executive Platinum, Platinum, and Priority Access all received a pass on the new searches. At least the first four in Group 1 received a pass. I wonder how many people they finally decided to inconvenience in supporting this sham of increased security.

I can’t wait for the next viable alternative to air travel. Personally, I’m considering a private pilot license. I value my LIBERTY!

 

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