A Cry for Change
My friend Gina Barreca, the feminist scholar, just called with an interesting theory. Because women are attending grad schools in record numbers, and because male CEOs have screwed things up so publicly, Gina thinks women are soon going to dominate American business -- and feminize it.
Within a generation, Gina predicts, standard business practices will become more collegial, more consensus-based, less money-obsessed, less hierarchical and not cutthroat. Everyone will bring muffins to work for everyone else. The hug will replace the handshake, and it will be okay to cry. This estro-generous business model, Gina says, will save industry.
Patiently, I explained to her why she was nuts. She had it backward, I said: Business is cold, competitive and aggressive because it has to be, not because it's run by men. Men tend to be in charge because they are temperamentally suited for all that, and when women run things, they behave like men. Ergo, move right along. No column is happening here.
A few hours later, I had to call Gina back. I told her she might be right.
Gina: What changed your mind?
Gene: I have just conducted an interview with a source who works in a woman-intensive professional environment and who confirms your thesis.
Gina: Who is this person?
Gene: My wife.
Gina: You have never before had occasion to discuss the circumstances of her employment?
Gene: Well, I knew her salary.
Gina: I see.
Gene: It turns out almost everyone in her office, from the top down, is female.