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If the shoe doesn’t fit

Jeannine Privat | Tuesday, September 28, 2004

“It’s a man’s world out there!” How many times have I heard this truism, and wondered why? Why can’t it be a world for women, too?

Some say that at the turn of the 21st century it is a world for everyone. Come on, we have laws and statutes on equal opportunity and sex discrimination. We even have the murderer of all male sports programs throughout the nation, Title IX. Why are feminists still whining?

I say it isn’t a world for every sex; it is still a man’s world.

It’s a world where female law students take their engagement rings off for interviews because they’re afraid of being asked about their personal lives, which they’re asked about even when they don’t wear their rings. Personally, I’m not too clear on how wearing an engagement ring or being married affects one’s performance as an attorney. But hey, maybe I don’t know how the real world works.

In other fields, it’s the same story. While women make up more than half of the work force of America, according to the 2000 Census, they are not proportionally represented in higher levels of professionalism. Of the Fortune 500 CEOs, only six are women, which is obviously proportionally representative of the female workforce. Besides this, there are other things that people often don’t think about, like golf.

Most women I know don’t play golf. My mother sold her set of clubs years ago, but now I wish she had kept them and taught me. Because if there’s one skill that I am lacking going into the real world – it’s how to play golf. The country club – the mecca of business deals. Men play a round of golf, have a few laughs and close the deal. This is one of the challenges that women face in networking. Everyone knows that you get jobs because of who you know. It’s pretty hard to get to know man in charge when, while the men are out on the course, you’re a woman, stuck in the clubhouse – that’s if you’re allowed in.

Why is all this relevant? Because women have to succeed in a man’s world. The best advice for succeeding in a man’s world – become a man. Don’t take maternity leave – you’ll miss promotions and won’t be viewed as someone who takes work seriously. Don’t cry – you’ll give the appearance you can’t hack it. Don’t put your family first – the job comes first. Learn how to get your golf score to an 86 – impress your superiors and clients.

I’m not saying women today cannot succeed in the real world. They can. What I am saying is differences should not automatically subordinate women, which usually happens in the “real” world, a man’s world, when a woman acts too much like a woman. I want a world where I can be the woman, mother, attorney and wife that I want to be, without sacrificing a significant part of my essence. To address this issue is difficult, but one that must be tackled by today’s society.

And no, I don’t have the solution to this problem. But, I am working on it.

Gloria Steinem once questioned, “If the shoe doesn’t fit, why must we change the foot?”

I want to know why I must become a man to be succeed as a woman?