Are you kidding? What I'd really like is to have a roundtable discussion. If anyone has comments on this, I'll print a selection in an upcoming edition. Send your thoughts here (guys, too): Mavericks.
This is just another example of how women get hassled for doing what's best for themselves. A very insidious form of discrimination lies in promoting the idea that
one person is responsible for the success or failure of others. That's pure balderdash. Making your own career decisions for the good of all women may be a noble idea, but in practice all you do is compromise yourself. The notion that women have a common goal reveals a socialist perspective -- and I'm a died-in-the-wool capitalist who believes all progress stems from the success of individuals acting in their own interest.
(In case someone thinks I'm against mentoring, that's incorrect. But we're not talking about mentoring here. For a discussion of effective mentoring, please see
Mentoring & Getting Mentored.)
Comments like Ryan's are not surprising, though. When an "outsider" gets "in" by letting herself be co-opted by the code of the insiders, you have to ask, Is she succeeding, or selling out? That's not a loaded question. There's nothing wrong with choosing to be co-opted, unless
you don't realize you're doing it.
In the article you cite, Ryan goes on to say that, "The status quo will remain the status quo as long as women are not there to change the
paradigm." But the issue is not whether a maverick woman -- one who chooses not to play -- is making it more difficult for other women. The issue is the underlying assumption that success is defined as working one's way up the corporation. Why is the head of WorldWIT promoting that
paradigm and discounting the choices of maverick women? Should all women (or all men) be judged by whether they choose to rise in the corporation?
Take a look around. Leading magazines like Fast Company and Inc. idolize the maverick who chucks it all to follow a dream. More and more people are choosing non-corporate and non-traditional work options. I think
the suggestion that individual women who opt out are shortchanging women as a group is narrow-minded and
-- if you want to look at this even more critically -- possibly guided by a corporate agenda.
What I'd like to ask Ryan is, Are you promoting the success of women, or the success of corporate structures? This is not a new question. Men have asked it before, and some have moved up to cleaning ponds, building furniture, and starting their own businesses.
For those who subscribe to the corporate paradigm, sacrificing part of their lives so they can succeed in the corporate culture is a valid choice. But don't indict women as a group for recognizing what many men do
-- that the corporate paradigm may not be for them. Make no mistake: The woman who says "No" is successful. The other who blames her for making it "even more difficult for women coming up" is missing the point and revealing a
narrow-minded view of choice and freedom.
Ryan could be accused of promoting a corporate mindset for women. I doubt that's her intent, but as head of a professional women's
group she ought to consider that her comments marginalize women who are in fact on the bleeding edge of a work culture that serves a larger, richer lifestyle. They want to be their own masters.
Which is all to say, I agree with you. Beware of those who would discriminate against you under the guise of promoting equal corporate
opportunity. You are not responsible for, or necessary to, anyone's success. If success means selling out to someone else's agenda, then I encourage women who don't cotton to the corporate paradigm to fail and fail again, until they achieve their personal goals.
Best wishes to you,
Ask The Headhunter®