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Possession with intent of double-X chromosome

January 18, 2011

Just stumbled across an oldie but a goodie, how female stars succeed in new jobs from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge articles. Professor Boris Groysberg looked at top performing equity analysts as an easy to study profession whose yearly metrics he could compare before and after a change in employers. Because most equity firms were located within 1 mile of each other geographical changes would also have less of an affect.
 
What he found was star male analysts performance actually dropped after changing jobs while star female analysts maintained their performance. Because analysts tend to have the same clients and outside contacts after switching companies Groysberg hypothesized the first reason for why women do better as:

One is that they are more invested in external than in in-house relationships. There are four main reasons why star women maintain external focus: uneasy in-house relationships, poor mentorship, neglect by colleagues, and a vulnerable position in the labor market. External focus makes them more "portable" in terms of making a positive move, but can cause problems if they want to progress within their own organization, because you need a solid internal network and good political capital to get things done in organizations. Anyone who focuses mostly on external relationships will not have that.

So kind of depressing. Women do not have good mentors, internal contacts, or internal institutional support at their own companies. Moving to some other company where they don't necessarily know anybody any better than at their previous employer changes nothing for them. Not really a sign of progress I think. His second reason is a little disappointing, indicating that women do more due diligence in a job search to make sure they are not a token female and that they will have more institutional support whether as a female or just as a person.

I don't like hearing this argument that women don't go into higher paying professions like management because they "have more ethics" than men or don't go into science or engineering because they "choose better jobs" than men and that seems like the argument here. I mean at least we've moved on from "women make better secretaries" but it's like saying African Americans dominate professional basketball because they make better choices to get in as opposed to their white sports colleagues not that their white colleagues actually have more avenues of success available to them.

On a side note, being a lego fan I was looking for a cutesey lego picture to top this post and a google image search of "lego figure" is shockingly masculine. I'd say 98% of figures were male, with a few scantily clad female lego figurines popping up or a few female superheroes. I think I got one hit in the first five pages that was just a normal female figure(lego figures do not even have curves, do we really need to sexualize them as well?). No worries, I thought, this is probably selection bias from the sexist interwebs and hopped over to the lego shop. I search through their City series looking to find ordinary women doing ordinary things. Police, fire and rescue are an all male club it seems with one single police woman who works at the police station but doesn't appear to be a part of any of the units that leave. Transportation shows men only as travellers, city workers, officials and mechanics with a woman working a pizza shop, another of unknown occupation and one travelling with her family in a camper.

It seems we women do not fix or run anything but are only a part of larger sets where clearly there should be at least one woman so the population can procreate and not die out. Other sets are even more disappointing with no women dueling with knights or no women wielding swords, no women swimming underwater to fight the weird sea creatures of Atlantis, no women ninjas, and only a few specific character women in the movie sets (Harry Pottery, Star Wars, Prince of Persia). Okay I suppose some of the ninjas could be women, it's not like the lego figures lead to distinct body shapes, but I still expected a little better from a company from pinko-commi freewave socialist Denmark. Getting past the shear lack of numbers, I think of being a little girl and not getting to see people like me wielding swords or building things but instead being in castles wearing less than everyone else and needing to be rescued. Come on Lego, get it together.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 10:36 pm

    They need a Lord of the Rings Lego set with a sword-wielding Eowyn of Rohan figure.

  2. January 18, 2011 11:01 pm

    Great idea, Eowyn is awesome and I think a good role model as well.

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