Gender and Success

Monday, April 1: Gender and Success (Group #7 Presentation)

NB: This class will meet at Classroom B177, in Bay 6 of the Smith Warehouse building, 114 S. Buchanan.      Please note that Prof Cathy Davidson has to miss this class.  Professor Rachel Seidman will fill in for the interview.

Group 7  Student Leaders: Matt, Chloe, Eric, and Evan

The social science research on decision making doesn’t show radical differences in men’s and women’s decision-making abilities in the US, yet it is clear that men and women occupy very different socio-economic roles and positions of leadership in U.S. society.   Why?  Sociological research on women’s workplace performance suggests that women are more likely to measure success based on personal relationships (gaining approval from, collaborating successfully with, or competing against others, especially other women).  The studies of male success tend to suggest that men succeed by aspiring to those above them,  in competition with peers.  Other experiments suggests that women are reluctant  to put themselves into a situation of competition with other women and are also less willing than men to negotiate for better salaries or benefits in the workplace.  The literature complicates these issues, asking what part of gender enculturation confuses “gender” and “competition.”

  • Read the readings and watch the videos
  • After completing the readings and videos, (1) add a Reading Response comment to the comment space by Friday, March 29 at 11:59 P.M. and (2) a response to a peer’s comment posted by Sunday, March 31 at 2:00 P.M.
  • For each of the three categories below:
    • Respond to the readings with your reactions, objections, parallels, insights, and opinions.
    • Provide at least one well-formed question that you would like to hear the professors discuss and offer opinions on.
    • No summaries needed. 

Category 1: Social Science

Category 2: Literature

Category 3: “Leaning In” — Gender and Success in the News

Optional (Suggested) Readings and Videos:

104 responses to “Gender and Success

  1. Social Science: “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”

    a) Response:
    This article was extremely apropos to me given a recent argument I had with my sister, in which she felt “negotiating” contract terms was a presumptuous thing to do. Having recently earned an internship at Vogue, my sister was thrilled to have a job at such a prestigious establishment in the fashion world. While I was very proud of her, I was shocked to find out how little she was going to get paid for this internship, and so I encouraged her to negotiate the terms. She found my insistence annoying and said that such an act of negotiation would only deter Vogue from potentially hiring her. While I do believe there is some credence to her fear, I also believe that strategic and tactful negotiation can always be done to optimize strategy. Having parlayed a multiyear internship into a rotation in another country and merit scholarship I was speaking from experience when I said there is no harm in negotiating. Nonetheless, my sister insisted that negotiation was simply not an option.
    While I cannot extend this anecdotal evidence of my sister’s fear of simply asking to a gender specific phenomenon, I do believe that Babcock’s thesis deserves some attention. The socialization of women – as Babcock refers to it – has largely made it more difficult for women to summon the courage to ask for raises, promotions, or even negotiate, than for men. This is an unfortunate reality which I hope will change as women continue to gain more traction and power in the workplace. That being said, I do not think this change is happening quickly enough, or will come anytime soon. It is not in the interest of managers to encourage their female employees to ask for better payment, and thus the change needs to come from the women themselves. I agree with Babcock in that advising is a part of the solution – and hope that further research on the salience and efficacy of advising women to negotiate will surface.

    b) Question:
    How can we encourage managers to promote women to negotiate more in the workplace, given that doing so is not in their best (economic) interest?

    Literature: “Girls”

    a) Response:
    While this show is not one that I have a desire to watch in the future, I did find some elements of it to be very entertaining. For one, the notion of a post-graduate – Hannah – being cut off by her parents is very amusing to me, as I know many kids who have been spoon-fed even after graduation which I find particularly laughable. The reality is that New York City breeds kids very similar to Hannah, who are jaded by the accoutrements of the lifestyle their parents worked for, and feel that they themselves don’t have to put in the hard work to earn it themselves. This entitlement eventually culminates in a discussion like the one Hannah has with her parents, where she is cutoff and “devastated” by the horror of having to fend for herself. Oh the horror.
    Anyway, I thought this show – or at least the pilot – portrayed women in a very juvenile and negative light, or so was my interpretation. The focus is on their lack of independence – financially – and on their need for dependence – socially and romantically – on and from their parents and men. This of course, is not representative of women, and is a very unilateral view which I do not agree with. Upon searching the reviews of the series, I found a feminist website “” on which a critique characterized the show as being “About a privileged group of vapid women whining about being forced to be even remotely responsible for themselves.” This, however, was just one bad review amongst a bevy of glowing reviews on other women’s websites, which leads me to question why women would enjoy a show that portrays them in such a bad light.

    b) Question:
    Why do women continue to popularize and enjoy media that underhandedly or subversively belittles them?

    “Leaning In”: “Why Women Can’t Have It All”

    a) Response:
    The salience of this piece to me was in revealing how asymmetrical the biological/evolutionary scale of responsibility truly is. Allow me to explain. By possessing the unique quality of childbirth, women are endowed with a tremendously important – yet grueling – responsibility of giving birth to a being of their own flesh. The importance that they endow within their children is reflective of the nine-month absolute effort they must expend on growing that child, not to mention the lifelong effort of rearing that child. Men, however, simply are involved in the most basic (but crucial) step of the childbirth – the impregnation. Thus, from a purely economic standpoint, women endow more importance in their children and expend more effort on their children than men. This, unfortunately, has many negative repercussions for the careers of women. For one, women have to take off from work to actually give birth, which is a very strenuous and demanding process. Additionally, women are often overwhelmed by the propensity to take care of their offspring – as is the case made by the author of this piece (a professor at Princeton and a former director at the State Department). The message the author was trying to convey is without question a controversial one, but it is also without question, at the most basic level, a result of human biology. To fully elucidate this point would be worthy of a thesis, but the short summation is that the author’s sentiments and her desire to maintain a work life balance were off put by the unequal and unfair biological scale that starts with the fact that women have to give birth.
    As she points out, women clearly have a more difficult time ascending the corporate latter (statistically speaking) than men. Yet this can change, and women “Can have it all” as she argues, just not yet. The gender gap, as she argues, can only be closed once we begin to address the “leadership gap” that is present amongst men and women. I too look forward to the time when we elect a female president, and more than the current and measly handful of fortune 500 companies are run by women, but unfortunately we are not there yet.

    b) Question:
    For professor Davidson:
    How have you juggled your dedication to academia, your career, and your commitment to leadership with your family? Was it without sacrifice? And if not, do you believe that “having it all” is impossible, even for the modern woman?

    • You make a good observation that managers will have conflicted interests in their female employees increasing how much negotiation they do. I think there needs to be a culture shift or gender socialization shift. That might be difficult to do at the childhood level, even if that seems to be where much of it starts, so Slaughter touches on a salient point in discussing female leadership. I think if women see more female executives who are willing to set an example in negotiating or pushing for things they want in general, that will set a precedent, and it may be an organic way of solving this problem. I don’t know whether this means it will largely take care of itself over time–maybe it needs some artificial pushing–but it does seem that it can be a positively reinforcing cycle.

    • Gordon Gekko, I don’t necessarily agree that Girls belittles women. Here’s an article that sort of responds to that:

      The author explains, quite concisely, why Girls is appealing and how it adds to the narrative of feminism on television. I’d also like to point out that the pilot episode, while it certainly sets the tone, doesn’t define the show. Lots of glowing reviews don’t necessarily mean lots of women (and men?) popularizing and enjoying media that underhandedly or subversively belittles women.

      I’d also like to point out that “the change needs to come from the women themselves” is not really a solution or the end-all for the issues of gender and success. Unfortunately, and I’m saying unfortunately because it’s an issue we have in the first place, the change needs to come from both sides: both men and women acknowledging that our perspectives and ways of thinking and gendering need to change. Because while women can change, that doesn’t necessarily mean that men will also change as a result. I think that looking forward to more women in leadership roles is a positive step in the right direction though.

    • This discussion thread is extremely thoughtful and I am so sorry I have to miss this class. My National Council nominee for the Jefferson Lecture, Martin Scorsese, was selected and it will be a very glorious night at the Kennedy Center—but I really regret not being part of this conversation and I’m glad some people from the group will be coming to interview me. Also, I’m happy at the end of the next class to have you ask me questions as a class if you would like. This is an issue that has to be close to everyone’s heart, men and women.

      I am listening to the Sheryl Sandberg book on tape now. I’m ashamed to say that, when I gave a talk to Cisco to Fortune 100 CEOs and CIOs, first, I was one of only 3 women out of 120 people there and, second, Cisco CEO and host of the event John Chambers asked after my talk what I thought of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and, at the time, I had downloaded but not yet read it. In fact, all I’d read was a scathing review—that I now think was wrong. Still, we had a very important conversation on the topic, just removed it from that book. I’m listening to the book now at the gym or when I travel and I am finding it extremely smart and nuanced. For me the biggest point she makes is that everything in our culture supports an ideal of success that aligns perfectly with the ideal of “masculinity” but is orthogonal too, if not overtly contradictory to, an ideal of “femininity.” So in the Howard/Heidi study conducted by Harvard Business School, the exact same case study was sent to survey participants with only the name “Heidi” changed to “Howard.” Both candidates were rated the same for ambition, intelligence, and skill but basically if you read about “Howard” you said you’d like him as a boss or a colleague and if you read about “Heidi” (with no other changes of facts) you said “No way!” That is not just about likability, in other words, but actual business efficacy. It doesn’t much matter if you are a great leader if no one wants you as a boss or colleague—no one will hire you. So the smart thing Sandberg does is, after describing this perception issue, she then gives suggestions, based on research, for how women can be both successful/skillful/bold/assertive/decisive AND have the qualities that get you hired for a job (likability/flexibility/empathy) at any managerial level, and even at any level period. Smiling a lot seems to help. Sigh. (I’ve been trying to track down a humorous website that Sandberg writes about that is a compilation of ads for various industries that use an iconic and familiar figure: the white career women doing business-like chores, such as answering a phone or holding a briefcase [ha!], while holding a crying and unhappy baby–the whiteness is a reminder of racism, class issues, normative sexuality, and gender issues all compiled together in popular culture. If anyone can locate this, please post the url. I’d love to see it.)

      You ask if I “sacrificed.” Of course! But let’s flip that. Would I have “sacrificed” if I hadn’t chosen this life path? Of course! In other words, I do not believe any human on the planet “has it all,” not male, not female. Every form of success–including stay-at-home-parenting entails commitments, effort, energy in one direction that means a choice not taken in another direction. I have no way of knowing if the path I chose was harder than it would have been if I had been a man, for example. I believe the flip side of the Lean In myth is that society tells men it is easier–and certainly there are some regulatory, economic issues that are easier for men, but there are also burdens for which we barely even have a vocabulary.

      For example, the burden to support a family is a huge one too. Men die earlier, they are more likely to commit suicide after a divorce, they are lonelier, they are more prone to violence and addiction. Men suffer tremendous burdens psychologically that we do not tend to see as burdens because they align with our social norms. But that means failing to live up to expectations is failing at what your society values. A stay-at-home dad has lots more censure than a stay-at-home mom. Duke grad “Heidi” who never becomes partner in a law firm, never moves above middle-manager in a job, and who raises three beautiful kids is doing great . . . “Howard” who never becomes partner in a law firm, never moves above middle-manager in a job, and who has three kids is viewed as having a middling career, not living up to all that promise.

      To racialize this gender issue, one reason for the catastrophic unemployment and imprisonment of poor African American men in our society is because this burden of being the provider is not only crushing psychologically and socially but, if you believe there is no way for you to meet up to social expectations, you are more prone to take dangerous risks. There are several studies on this risk behavior for those who feel not just hopeless but as if, not doing something means you are a failure.

      I am trying to make the binary of male and female more complex and also the binary of “having it all” and “not having it all.”

      This is going to seem like a very odd, even goofball analogy, but I once heard model Kate Moss say in an interview that she’s never tasted food as good as skinny feels. That synesthetic confusion actually strikes me as brilliant. She was being asked for the thousandth time if being rail-thin for her modeling career was worth the “sacrifice.” Clearly not eating everything she wanted was a sacrifice, she was acknowledging, but she loved her modeling career so much that it would be a bigger sacrifice to eat and lose that career. I would answer your question about having a career and having a family by saying that, of course it was busy and required a lot of very early mornings (a habit I retain of waking way before dawn) before everyone else was up, but I’ve never experienced extra sleep as satisfying as accomplishing a lot feels.

      One point of this course is that nothing just “is.” Everything is relative to social expectations, our own assumptions about our rationality or our behavior or our goals and experience. Realizing that we are often not seeing the trade offs even when we are making them is part of the life lessons of this class. By having you create the class, we’re also trying to make visible (this is part of the pedagogical points) the kinds of things necessary to really understand, explain, and then act upon knowledge. Typically profs do that for you–all you have to do is accept their perspective, master the content, show that you have mastered it. In this course, you really are shaping the concepts, contexts, content, and doing so in a profound conversation with one another. The more you do that, the more you see how every path you take, every decision you make, means you are not doing or making something else. (Otherwise, your reading list each week would be thirty books long.) Life is a series of choices is a cliche–but it is also true. “Having it all” exists in fairy tales. In a life of choices, you have some things but that means you do not have others; you sacrifice some things in order not to have others. But if you realize that everything is in that kind of balance, the “sacrifice” is a choice not a giving up. And here’s the good part (and I bet I’m speaking for Kate Moss as well as myself here): certain things become habits and you don’t even think of them as sacrifices any more but the way to lead the life you want. Which, I suppose, is why I’ve been up for five hours already, typing this on Easter after a wonderful night out last night with friends. Is this a sacrifice? Not at all. It’s a life, and anyone who is privileged to have choices in life, as I have been, should recognize that good fortune rather than measure success or failure against a false, even mythical ideal of “having it all.”

      That said–I hasten to add–structural institutional inequality exists and, since I am an institutional reformer, it is important to make institution aware of their inequities and work to correct them. Here’s my favorite example. When anyone asks me why it is so hard for women to have a great career and raise children, I ask them to tell me the school hours at their local school. Then I ask, so what executive works from 7:30 am until 3 pm from September until early June? Clearly the institution of school–a training ground for work–is not set up for working parents (typically mothers) and neither is it training the next generation to think of the world as a place where career and family can be successfully and easily synchronized. If society wanted to support mothers with careers, it could change that institutional structure in a second. If you can ban smoking everywhere, you can change school hours. We haven’t. What does that tell us about what we want as a society? What kinds of structural inequalities we are willing to support in our society?

      I’m so sorry to miss Monday’s discussion. I hope these lengthy comments are useful. Thanks to you all for another very meaningful conversation on this class blog.

    • I really enjoyed this analysis and thought your discussion of women in the workplace was very similar to the post I made. I recently read an article about the firms that make an active effort to recruit back female employees who have given birth. I remember one of my colleagues this summer gave birth and actually worked on the day when she was due to go into labor. This must be incredibly difficult. My question for Professor Ariely is, do we do enough economically to ensure that the market for mothers in the workplace is in equilibrium. In other words, do we have an efficient amount of mothers, given the talents women have (most of whom become mothers), or can we do more to incent them? If firms don’ incent them, should the government provide more of less maternity leave? Should the government offer to subsidize daycare and other expenses as part of the Child Tax Credit? My question for Professor Davidson, is what has been your experience as a highly successful academic and also being a mother? How do you feel about the above questions? What does Duke do to retain female talent?

  2. Social Science: “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”

    This paper reminded me of a recent discussion I had with my mom regarding her employment situation. For the past year and a half, she had been working at a job that she did not like. When complaining to me that her boss, also the owner of the three-employee firm, had never given her a raise, I inquired as the whether she had asked for one. Her response: “well, no…but I don’t think he would anyway.”

    While I had never thought of my mom as shy or timid whatsoever, this paper affirms the idea that women are hesitant to ask for raises, promotions, etc. in the workplace. I agree with these authors that this is a definitely a problem, but am not 100% in agreement with their proposed solutions. As I told my mom, why should your boss give you a raise if you do not ask for one? I do not think that managers should consider women, or anyone for that matter, for positions or raises that they are not willing to ask for. What troubled me about my discussion with my mom was not only that she expected to be given a raise without asking, but more so that she felt that her request for negotiation would go unnoticed. To me, the solution lies in creating an environment in which all employees feel comfortable negotiating and asserting themselves.

    My question for the professors is, how can we incentivize companies to encourage more women to negotiate? As it stands, what incentives do companies currently have

    Literature: “What I wish I had known as an underclassman”

    Though I absolutely and unapologetically love the show Girls, I am choosing to not analyze it in this context to avoid the risk of detracting from the fact that the show is absolutely hilarious. Instead, I will focus on one of Duke Chronicle’s latest popular articles, “What I wish I had known as an underclassman.”

    I don’t think that anyone will argue that the statistics presented in the article are horrifying. A national average rate of sexual assault of women of 20-25 percent is terrible in itself; the fact that Duke’s rate is considerably higher is truly troubling. While statistics like these demonstrate the problem of sexual assault, the recent media scandals propagating rape culture (ie- Steubenville rape case) show the true magnitude of the issue. While the PACT training mentioned in the article and other interventions are a good way to respond to the issue, I think that we will not be able to solve this problem until we change whatever cultural and societal forces make sexual assault “okay.”

    My question for the professors is, how can we make our solution to sexual assault more proactive and less reactive? In other words, how do we go about changing widespread cultural views?

    Gender and Success in the News: 60 Minutes Interview with Sheryl Sandberg

    Since first hearing about Sheryl Sandberg’s book Leaning In over spring break, I have seen her name popping up in a variety of news outlets. She touches on many of the same points as the authors of the “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” paper, using their research to substantiate her claims. I admire Sandberg’s success and found this interview to be compelling, but have some mixed reactions to her messages.

    First, I found her point about how genders attribute their success differently to be very interesting. In claiming that most women attribute their success to working hard, luck, and other people while men attribute it to their own core skills, Sandberg touches on an important point. As I think success is attributable to all of these factors (not to mention countless others), this is an example of how men and women can learn from each other to ultimately be more successful. This argues for Sandberg’s main goal- to get an equal number of women into high-powered positions.

    My issue with Sandberg’s position is the generalizations she makes about women. Professor Davidson, do you feel these generalizations apply to you and your female colleagues? Would it be acceptable to make such sweeping statements about men? Another question for the professors stems from the idea that these differences between how men and women operate in the workplace must have a biological or evolutionary basis/purpose. What, if any, is the value in preserving any of these underlying differences?

  3. Gordon Gekko Peer Response to Gossip Girl:

    I think your point that employers should not give raises or even negotiate with those who don’t ask is an excellent one. The notion that employers should seek to deliver raises and benefits when their employees do not ask for them is both ridiculous and not in the interest of the employer. Like your mother, my sister is also not shy or timid, and has no problem arguing with me over the slightest misstep I may make. Thus, the fact that your mother and my sister both have difficulty negotiating is at first slightly confusing. The reality, however, is that the office dynamic and the societal conventions of sexism and power that permeate the office place affect women’s abilities to ask or negotiate – or so is my understanding. While I agree with you that this environment needs to change, I think it will be very difficult to create an environment where negotiation is a “comfortable” thing to do, as you say. This is because negotiation is a very difficult and precarious tactic that can often be interpreted as presumptuous or even derisive by the employer – regardless of the gender of the employee who is trying to negotiate. The fear of the backlash is what prevents the majority of people from negotiating, and whether we like it or not, this fear will loom as long as the employee employer dynamic remains the same.

  4. SOCIAL SCIENCE: “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”

    The sentiment of this article, especially when considered in tandem with something like Adeline Koh’s “Trading Races” game, perfectly illustrates why it can be so difficult to understand and empathize with the experiences of minorities and underprivileged groups. To borrow Cathy’s “elephant and mouse analogy,” it is one thing for the elephant to learn to be more aware if the mouse was constantly chattering away, and making its place in the bed known. However, how is the elephant supposed to detect the mouse if the mouse never says anything? How are employers supposed to distinguish between the times that their hardworking female employees want a raise but are too reluctant to negotiate for one, and the times that they are indeed perfectly content with the way things are? That being said, I don’t think that the difficulty of application, in any way, diminishes the importance of this article and illustrating certain patterns of behavior to be true. However, I do think that awareness is not enough– we need to somehow change the design in the work environment in order to compensate for this behavior disparity.

    Thus, in what ways can we change the design in order to foster an environment that allows women to speak up and reach their full potential?

    LITERATURE: “What I wish I had known as an underclassmen”

    My relationships with women’s issues and Duke’s campus can be a fickle one. Sometimes, I will hear a story or statistic or study and it’ll just ring true– I’ll spend the day thinking about it, and wondering what that means for me, being a woman on campus, and what I can do about it. However, other times, it can start to feel like a broken record and one that doesn’t entirely appeal to me. I’m completely removed from Greek culture, and I scarcely frequent the party scene. My primary interaction with guys are in class, with professors I like– thus, not a lot of room for blatant disrespect. However, just because I don’t experience the detrimental effects of the gender gap directly, doesn’t mean that I don’t support the countless women who do. There is a problem on campus. I just also want to be wary of grouping these issues together into a lump-sum, and pinning it entirely on gender, as that marginalizes the varied and individualized experiences that we have.

    How can Duke, as an institution, stop incentivizing the party/Greek culture?

    GENDER AND SUCCESS IN THE NEWS: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” vs. Sheryl Sandberg vs. “New data on the rise of women” (also includes the critique of the first article)

    Kudos to the group for assigning readings from three different, powerful women– who all, in one way or another, embody modern feminism– and yet have drastically differing views. They contradicted each other, sometimes even directly opposed each other, but they all had truths to say that were invaluable to offer. Personally, I think that I most agreed with the first article, somewhat to my surprise. I found myself mildly uncomfortable at how bold Sheryl Sandberg and Hanna Rosin were about the unyielding power women should hold. While I definitely do not think that marriage and kids is something that every woman should aspire to, unlike the critique of the Atlantic article, I don’t think that trying to achieve a balance between work and home means that either one of them are crucial for being happy. But that is merely my two cents, at this particular point at my life. I think that the most important take-away from having such diverse perspectives echoes the point I was trying to make before; just because we are united by gender does not mean that our experiences and united. And perhaps we need to stop critiquing each other’s life choices and definitions on how those fit into being a feminist, and simply come together based on the inequality that undoubtedly affects us all.

    What version of feminism and female empowerment do you want for yourselves, your daughters, or your sisters?

    • I don’t know if your use of the elephant and mouse analogy here is completely appropriate. The idea behind the analogy is that the size differential is so huge that the elephant is completely oblivious to the struggles of the mouse. Even if the mouse were to squeal as loud as it possibly could, the elephant probably wouldn’t be able to hear it. The mouse simply does not have the physical ability to capture the elephant’s attention. Therefore, I agree with your sentiment that employers won’t know how hard their female employees are working unless they speak up, but I disagree with the way the analogy is used simply because I don’t believe women lack the physical ability to speak up and make themselves heard. On the flip side, if there are minority groups that, like the mouse, are unable to make their struggles heard, I don’t think we can blame them for not speaking up for themselves – they are, after all, just mice sleeping with elephants.

    • I agree with you that the application of the suggestions in “Nice girls don’t ask” is very hard to apply in for employers, and I do not think they have enough incentives to actually pursue such options because of the monetary and time commitment. I think that it is the social upbringing and social context in the work environment that needs to change. From a young age women are taught that it is better to keep silent and that you should not impose on other people (at least form my personal experience) therefore having that voice as an adult in the workforce, demanding more from your employers is definite no. I think the change should not have to come form the employers but from the parents, they should be taught to educate girls and make them aware that it is ok and important that they stand up and demand what they consider they deserve, instead of adhering to this strange “feminine” social correctness.

  5. Category 1: Why Are Men So Foolish?

    I found the article about gender and competition to be extremely insightful. As a competitive male, I can easily see myself picking the “winner take all” option, being overconfident in my math abilities. I wonder if this competition gap and a lack of confidence in ones own abilities from the female side of things is a result of them having received social cues for all of their lives that they are not as good at math? I wonder if the task were changed, from math problems to analyzing literature, or another typically feminine subject, would they have been more confident in their own abilities.

    I also was confused and would like to challenge something in the article. The research points to the fact that “To get women to compete, they need to be in a social context where competing is relevant to their success”. Isn’t this the definition of the workplace? If this research is in fact true, I feel like women would be just as willing to compete with men in the workplace, because they know their professional success is dependent upon it.

    Question: What do the professors believe is the cause of the gender achievement gap in the workplace, and how can it be remedied?

    Category 2: What I Wish I Had Known as an Underclassman

    This is a fiery topic around campus now, so it will be very interesting to hear the professors talk about it. There is no doubt that many of the statistics presented in the article are horrifying. The percent of women who have been sexually assaulted nationally and at Duke astonished me. That of course needs to be remedied, but how, I do not know. I will say that I feel like the feminist movement at Duke is going about it in a way that is very counterproductive. Many of their signs and initiatives and slogans seem just as sexist against men. I consider myself to be very respectful towards women, and when I see that many of the arguments presented marginalize all men into a single category, it makes me not as welcoming to the movement.

    Question: How can the women of Duke go about campaigning for gender equality in a more productive and efficient way?

    Category 3: Sheryl Sandberg 60 Minutes

    It seems that Sheryl is saying that women hold themselves back because they are afraid to lead and it is the status quo that women do not perform in the same way men do. I thought it was fascinating to watch Sheryl underplay her own accomplishments, attributing her success to others and luck, 10 seconds after she said “women underplay their own accomplishments”. It was a perfect example of exactly what she was talking about. It is also scary because women can perceive the way they act, acknowledge that they exist, and still fall into the same trap. It makes it seem like a remedy is much more difficult than originally anticipated. This also relates back to the first article, regarding women and their aversion to competition. By downplaying their accomplishments, it seems like they are attempting to avoid stepping on toes and having other people think that they are trying to become competitive with them.

    Question: Why do women underplay their own accomplishments in the workplace?


    • I could not agree more with your point about the tone of the feminist movement at Duke. I feel the movement, or at least the most vocal parts, alienate not only men but also other women. While I wholeheartedly believe in gender equality and understand the huge problem of sexual assault and violence, I am hesitant to identify as a feminist on campus. I agree with you that the movement seems to generalize both genders and that this is unfair and inaccurate. Like you, I think a big part of changing campus culture in regards to gender has to do with figuring out how to have a productive discussion. I’m interested to hear what the professors think about this as well!

      • I also agree that the tone of the feminist movement funnels all males into one bucket at Duke. This, combined with the negative portrayals of Duke in mass media outlets, seems to hurt perceptions of the typical Duke male. I worry that Duke students are so proactive about mobilizing peers on social problems at our University (in this case peers of the same sex) that it exacerbates overaching efforts of building a more close-knit community. We need to stop pointing fingers and start owning contributions to our culture.

        Take a look at the GQ article titled “America’s Douchiest Colleges.” They labeled Duke #2 for the “Pressed oxford; Goldman Sachs summer-internship tote; always ending the party by taking your shirt off and wrestling a guy named Schmitty.” This reduces the image of males at Duke to privileged air heads with too much testosterone. Combined with pressure from the feminist movement, I wholeheartedly agree that men are generalized. We are much more than these stereotypes, and I think that men at Duke understand the importance of being perceptive to dynamics of gender issues while also building their own personal brand (one that doesn’t fall on the GQ trajectory or a permament record for wrestling Smitty).

    • James P. Duke,

      I think you raise a very interesting point when you say: “To get women to compete, they need to be in a social context where competing is relevant to their success”. Isn’t this the definition of the workplace? This is a really interesting point, because, as you point out, “If this research is in fact true, I feel like women would be just as willing to compete with men in the workplace, because they know their professional success is dependent upon it.” Therefore there is something at fault with the workplace in fulfilling this definition, or with the way that women interpret the workplace.

      After reading your response to the Chronicle article, I realize I would have liked to have seen the group assign an article about the “Who Needs Feminism Campaign? started at Duke “( I have a lot of friends involved in this campaign and I think that they have viewpoints different from those presented in the “What I Wish I had Known as an Underclassmen” article.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

    • Peer response,
      JPD I agree that the rhetoric and campaigns of the feminist movement have alienated many from what could be more inclusive (and productive) dialogue. It seems that a lot of the discourse has included expression of great disatisfaction with Duke’s campus culture yet very little tangible steps to help spur reform. This is probably due in part to the subtle, latent nature of the problem, but I do believe that more productive conversations can be had, and better steps can be outlined to start addressing students’ concerns.

  6. Category 1: Nice Girls Don’t Ask

    The findings in this paper fit my intuitions, and thus aren’t terribly surprising. I wonder how much the work habits they describe (aversity to competition, unwillingness to negotiate, assumption of recognition for hard work, etc.), ingrained through socialization, are mirrored by dating culture as well. I’m reminded of an article in The Atlantic about male attitudes towards women affecting gender discrimination in the workplace.

    Question: Should we change how children are socialized in terms of gender roles, or deal with their results instead?

    Category 2: Chronicle Article

    I was a little confused about the article’s headline, but it does touch on important issues that our campus in general would do well to be more aware of. The survey results I was pretty interested in, but the methodology I remain unsure of. “Unwanted sexual contact” strikes me as somewhat vague, but if people interpreted that narrowly and fully a third of all Duke women have experienced it, then this is clearly a major problem that needs to be addressed. Yet I wonder if the root cause–people learning to truly respect one another–is something that’s beyond our ability to address, in this culture of independence, competition, and everyone trying to “get their own.” Addressing the symptoms–creating a counter-culture where it’s simply harder for people to get away with assault–seems almost like a consolation prize to me, like it’s missing the real point (though of course, it’s still something that should be done).

    Question: How do we address the root causes of these behaviors effectively, or is it simply too ingrained in our human nature?

    Category 3: Why Women Still Can’t Have it All

    It’s been interesting to follow the Slaughter vs. Sandberg debate, as they represent rather opposite approaches to how feminism relates to success in corporate America. It seems that their philosophies stem from their own experiences, which is natural, but it gets tricky if they try to generalize and expect everyone else to be able to do the same things. Kind of like how self-made wealthy people can expect everyone else to be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. It’s also worth thinking about if the emphasis on career independence and success has effects on romantic relationship–a recent Atlantic article suggests that women in their 20s feel guilty for wanting boyfriends.

    Question: It seems that for people (men, women, couples alike) to “have it all,” somebody has to sacrifice somewhere. What’s the best way to balance this as unselfishly as possible when everyone has ambitions?

    • In terms of the balancing, is there really a balance to be had? As in, raising children is quite the full time job, especially in the younger years. And it’s really, really hard to have two full time jobs. It’s probably impossible. So I think there has to be a choice made, simply because of time restraints. And so someone needs to raise the kids, and a point raised in the article was that mothers feel more of an inclination to, and so they do. Or maybe you introduce a nanny. That’s, after all, a full time job.

      Maybe it’s like taking out the trash. Without a predetermined system, you and your roommate simply watch the trash pile up. Until the person who has the lower tolerance for trash sighs and takes it out.

    • I think in dating culture, women are oftentimes presupposed to be the less dominant one, and are usually, especially in non-American culture, considered to be more attractive if they are the listeners, are submissive, tender, non-assertive, and surrender their personhood to their significant other. The Atlantic issue about rape culture does bring an important issue of gender violence that is to account for much of intimidation that happens to women, making it less likely for them to be open, articulate, comfortable and brave in public.

      In terms of the Duke culture, I am more optimistic. I don’t think we will be able to solve those problems in one day, but being able to understand those issues using the conceptual tools we have (and have learnt in this class) will help us at least come a step closer toward addressing institutional discrimination.

  7. Social Science
    I found the behavioral differences between men and women quite fun. There really is a difference. I see it all the time. I think it might be interesting to see whether we’re moving toward being sex-blind (as in, color-blind for races) as a society. Equality is definitely a good thing, but I believe you have to acknowledge the differences in order to truly get there. Like the “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” article does a brilliant job of that. They recognize that girls have a harder time asserting themselves for whatever reasons, perhaps because of social conditioning. And then the article goes on to give tips to managers about how to get your dime’s worth out of female employees. To give them equal opportunity. Equal, but different.

    Q: Are these differences presented in the readings all due to social constructs? Are there other reasons for these differences, perhaps biological or neurological?

    Alright, so we have two things here: women at Duke don’t feel respected by men. Women at Duke are less confident going out than coming in. Are the two related? If so, how? And how does sexual assault fit into all this?

    This is tricky. Confidence is tricky. There seems to be implied in the article that women’s confidence at Duke is dependent on how much they feel respected by men at Duke. And that’s not a ridiculous point. After all, what other people think of you frames what you think of yourself.

    And I can see that if you respect someone less, than you are more likely to sexually assault them. That could very well be true. I wish there was another statistic that asked “How much do you think you respect women and men (comparatively)?” That could shed some light on the causes. They might not know they’re disrespecting.

    Q: The article hints that fraternities are one such source of disrespect toward women. What mechanisms are at work that lead women to continue to attend fraternity events and associate with them if they disrespect them? (If it were true about fraternities.)

    If I had to summarize Professor Slaughter’s point about balancing career and family as a women, it’s this: do what makes you happy. If that means eating chicken pot pie, then so be it. Or in words I understand, maximize your utility. In a simple scenario, you have two variables, work and family. Invest into both to the point where the next units of it give you equal happiness. If you feel like you should be working more, then work more. If you feel like you should be home more, go home more.

    That’s all very nice to say, and I know life is more complicated than that, and things are expected of you and what not, but I think it really comes down to that. Because your work success is linked inextricably from your happiness. Your kids happiness basically equals your happiness. Do what makes you happy. Not what people tell you should make you happy. After all, they have different indifference curves.

    Q: Why do women feel like they need to “have it all”? Because the article talks about how men don’t even have it all—they just don’t feel the same maternal drives, and so they sort of skimp out on the kids (not exactly, but you get the point).

    • I really enjoyed your chicken pot pie comparison haha, as it is an accurate way of summarizing the article. These women, who are all immensely successful and well-established in their own lives, still feel a need to criticize each other on their individual roads to happiness, even though it comes at the detriment of the entire cause. I went to a talk by Dean Sue, one of Duke’s prominent female head administrators, about feminism, and she is a living embodiment of this ideal. She was married for many years, but priorities changed, so she and her husband divorced, but remain on very good terms. She never had kids because she never wanted them, not because of anything related to her pursuit of a career. And to hear it from her, she feels that marriage and kids, as well as a career, are both an equal investment of time and energy, and it should be up to the woman to decide what is right for her. That being said, because both investments are so important and the institution is stacked against being able to balance both easily, there must be steps taken in order to further women’s rights in the workforce.

    • I’m a girl haha… here are some reasons

      I feel like I need to “have it all” (in terms of job + kids + whatever) because I want to work hard for something. I want to continue to learn. I want to be able to support myself financially. I want to feel that I use my education and am doing something with my life; that all my hard work in school isn’t going to be used to raise kids. The things I am most proud of are the things that I worked hardest for. Taking care of a family is sooo important to me but so is achievement.

      All this kind of has to do with feeling good about myself. I wouldn’t be happy doing something that I thought was less than my value or potential if that makes sense.

    • Batman,

      I really like your comparison of gender and races. It is interesting to compare the concepts of gender-blindness vs. gender-consciousness. Like race, I think it is impossible to truly be gender-blind, as there are obvious differences, both biological, social, etc, in the way women and men act and behave in day-to-day life. Therefore, I think it is important that research focus on the differences that exist, and how we can remedy those, as oppose to expecting both genders to be exactly equal in every social context.


  8. Women Who Are Pinned To The Wall Still Can’t Have it All.

    As I read this week’s readings on gender I couldn’t help but think back to previous week’s discussions, most notably topics on attention blindness and race, prejudice and political correctness. Earlier this semester a campus debate took place over a fraternity party that was later dubbed in the media as “Asian Prime” and “Racists Rager”. The promotional flyers and photos taken during the party received significant press and inspired a lot of discussion and outrage. But no one (not even the Chronicle or the national media that subsequently reported on the incident) noticed the gorilla in the room – or in this case, the sumo wrestler in the photo.


    Reporters focused on the fact that the partier in this photo was dressed in a stereotypical sumo costume (thereby denigrating Asian students). However, no one noticed the fact that this same partier was aggressively pinning a woman to the wall. This is because the audience (much like the audience that was asked to count basketball bounces) was being asked to observe for Asian stereotypes. With this in mind the actual actions of the “wrestler” (i.e. the gorilla) went unnoticed. Race was in the foreground while sexism disappeared into the background. The context makes all the difference in how we interpret a situation. Just like the party flyers read, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”

    If we approach a visual or idea considering only one issue or perspective (such as race or sexism) then we miss other insights. Why are we focused on single issues at the expense of systemic understandings?

    Included in this week’s reading is an article from the Chronicle highlighting research finding that nearly one in three Duke women have experienced unwanted sexual contact and only 36% of female students feel respected by men on campus. The gender issues reflected in the research findings are evident in the “sumo photo” yet no one noticed.

    Question: Why do we continue to place some issues in the foreground and others in the background? It seems that we should be looking at the whole picture when we consider marginalization associated with such issues as racism, classism, and sexism. Does the general population have the critical thinking skills necessary to consider more than a single issue at once?

    Social Science (Category 1)
    What is it about high school and college women and their need to apologize before giving in-class presentations? This was an ongoing issue I observed in high school, and I see it here at Duke. Last semester during a class media project nearly all of the female students began their presentations, one by one, with a disclaimer that went something like, “Well I am not artistically talented, but here is my project. ” There is a huge difference between humility and a lack of self-confidence or apology. Women too often mistake the two. What we can learn from these missteps that begin even before women join the workforce is that we (as women) can both promote our own interests and be good to fellow human beings at the same time.

    The Salon article includes two studies that appear to contradict one another. How can women do better than men in stressful environments and in the face of competition if they also tend to struggle with self-confidence? In one study (Niederle, M., & Vesterlund, L.) looked at roommates at elite boarding schools and found that girls within a group of other girls can have healthy and successful relationships. Is this because they were only looking at the relationship amongst girls? Readers might be tempted to generalize these findings to all girls’ schools or at least environments in which girls can develop amongst same sex peers. But as highlighted in “What I wish I had known as an underclassman” in the Duke Chronicle, sororities can have negative impacts on a woman’s development and sense of self.

    Question for Cathy Davidson: We have heard about the dip in confidence and lack of respect that Duke’s female undergraduates report during their time here. I am curious about what it is like to be a woman on Duke’s faculty. Do you notice any parallels between the undergraduate female student’s experience (as reported in the Chronicle article) and your own experience as a faculty member and former administrator at Duke?

    Literature and Leaning In (Category 2 and 3)
    I often watch the show Girls only to find myself (during a moment of reflection in the scrolling credits) feeling uneasy. After watching episodes a second time I notice more subtle character complexities that make me slightly uncomfortable. For instance, the male characters are more upfront with their failures. They are unlike the main female characters who are ambitious, each in their own way. This uncomfortable codependency I experience stems from the hypocrisy of the female characters’ behaviors.

    Sheryl Sandberg says that women are bad at asking for what they want. Indeed this is the case in Girls where the main character, Hannah, took two years to gather the nerve to ask her boss for a promotion from that of an intern to a paid employee. After finally making the request she is fired. It didn’t appear that Hannah ever had the slightest chance of receiving a promotion. Although Sandberg encourages women to be upfront in asking for what they want and need, this isn’t always possible. It’s not easy to have a change of heart or withdraw a request after it is denied. Hannah demonstrates what is argued in the Harvard Business Review article, “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”: women expect their hard work will be rewarded. However, women cannot simply ask for change after accepting the status quo from the beginning. (That started two years ago for Hannah).

    Accepting the status quo starts in college and even earlier (as highlighted in the Chronicle article). The Girls pilot represents a particular kind of educated woman who is failing to achieve her goals. Characters Jessa, Marnie, and Hannah all graduated with degrees from a small liberal arts college (Oberlin). All of these female characters, I believe, are partially defined by this education – one that stresses (for the most part) interdisciplinary discussion and reflection rather than development of professionalism that they now need for post-graduation success. The challenges associated with their educational backgrounds are evident in the characters of Hannah who completes an English major and Marnie interested in art curation. In some ways Duke women and the characters of Girls represent similar kinds of privileges that come from an elite college education. Now living in NYC the practical aspects of life have emerged. It is difficult for these women to take financial matters into their own hands and recognize their limitations and failures. Later in the series the solution for Marty is to date many men based on their financial successes.

    In an interview with Vogue magazine the show’s executive producer, Lena Dunham, says that she wants the show to be about women who are flawed and complicated because these types of women are not typically shown in popular entertainment. But I am not confident that the characters in Girls are representative of the challenges most women experience. Women who don’t have similar amounts and types of early financial backing from their families must experience and surmount challenges quite differently.

    Question: What kinds of depictions will help change gender stereotypes – female characters like Sheryl Sandberg who serve as models of success or (like in the case of Girls) women who are realistic but flawed?

    • Hi Phia,

      You make a brilliant point about the critical response to photographs from the Asia Prime party. Viewing them through the lens of racism, students and journalists alike were blinded to the potential sexual transgression in the photograph. (I say “potential” because this appears to be a very gray case of consent. The woman is pinned to the wall, but she has her arm around the man; she is unable to consent if intoxicated, but he may be intoxicated as well.)

      What is so unfortunate about this oversight is that it could have been an opportunity for the separate discourses on sexism and racism to mutually enrich each other. Duke has seen this happen with the “Who needs feminism?” campaign, which brought together students and citizens of the world to redefine feminism in terms of equality:

      In the 21st century, who needs feminism? As it turns out, thousands of young women and men from across the globe, of all different races, religions, sexualities, and economic backgrounds, have spoken up to say they do, through the Who Needs Feminism online campaign. Their efforts to reclaim feminism as an umbrella for dialogue on issues that affect all of us—men and women—hold the potential to effect real change.

      The goals of overcoming sexism and overcoming racism are so tightly linked that they may very well be solved by one process—of acknowledging all our differences and coming to respect one another. The “Who needs feminism?” campaign spoke not only to women, but also to racial, ethnic, and religious minorities who identified with the desire to be understood and accepted. By their concepts and intentions, the campaigns for gender and race equality are one and the same. If the two campaigns were better integrated, they would achieve their central aims more efficiently and foster more far-reaching understanding in the process.

      Nonetheless, just as important as it is for individuals to own their gender and racial identities, it remains important for each dialogue to maintain its own vocabulary. Again, this is the push and pull between blindness and consciousness of our differences. A fight for “equality” alone and above all else would blind us to the differences that affect us every day (e.g., gender differences in competition). Going forward, I hope that feminists can participate in issues of race, and proponents of racial equality can participate in issues of gender, without either side sacrificing its distinctive characteristics.

  9. Category 1: Social Science

    Reading “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” was painful: being a senior at Duke University and about to enter the workforce, these are not abstract or ‘far-away’ issues but rather very present and real for me. It’s a reality that I’m going to have to face once I leave the idealistic, forward-thinking (for the most part) bubble that is Duke. And it’s something that my friends and I have been talking about –the authors touch upon it at the beginning of the article: that women are socialized to behave this way. Recently in a class, a student brought up the point that the ‘roadblock’ for women is that they refuse to acknowledge the differences between genders and that, subsequently, harms them. In effect, this person was implying that these are biological differences –because yes, there clearly are some biological differences –between men and women. But, as the article points out, this specifically is not biological but rather a societal norm. I think that’s something that needs to be stressed more so that these misconceptions don’t persist; for some reason people find that with scientific backing, they can excuse their actions as ‘nature.’ However when we’re forced to realize that this isn’t natural, then we can begin to address the problem.

    Have Professors Dan and Cathy ever faced this ‘roadblock:’ men and/or women assuming that certain traits and actions, such as ‘asking for more,’ are biological? And, more specifically for Cathy, how has your gender defined/influenced your success? Or do you believe it hasn’t?

    Category 2: Literature

    I’m excited that I get to discuss the television show Girls: I do it on a regular basis (Sunday nights when it airs). The episode could be construed as a platform to discuss the differences in which Adam and Hannah view dependency and making a living. Namely, Adam is loath to rely on his parents while Hannah almost demands it. It could be extrapolated that Adam is representing the man’s viewpoint while Hannah conversely represents the woman’s. And it plays on a dangerous stereotype that men must think and act like ‘the providers,’ while women exclusively are entitled to be taken care of. It also depicts Adam as being untroubled by his unconventional career path; not to say that Hannah is troubled by it but she acknowledges its high potential for un-sustainability and limitations more openly than Adam does. Perhaps this is providing a discourse on gendered thinking: men feel more or are more entitled to think, act, etc. Meaning, more likely to chart their own course. And maybe these are issues that Lena Dunham is trying to suggest to the viewer. However, in regards to this week’s lesson, I don’t think the episode really pits women against men in terms of success. Rather, Adam accepts money from his grandmother; Hannah is cut-off unceremoniously by her parents. These actions undermine ‘differences in gender’: her parents act on the basis that she is a ‘provider’ and Adam is accepting help in a Hannah-like way. It leads me to believe that this is Lena’s way of calling ‘bull’ on people making gendered assumptions when it comes to work and success.

    Are men and women biologically wired to have these attitudes of ‘provider’ and ‘provided for,’ respectively? Or, is it more nurture than nature? And, more importantly, how does this specifically account for the differences in gender and success?

    Category 3: “Leaning In” — Gender and Success in the News

    I’ve read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” before; it was forwarded to me, posted on my Facebook wall, etc. etc. multiple times. It is, of course, the dead-horse notion that women can’t wear the power suit and be amazing mothers at the same time. I’m not discrediting what she’s saying: I find her article honest. And, I think the most important thing it accomplished is spurring much-needed dialogue on the topic. Here’s a couple articles that I’ve found in response to it:

    Like I said, the much-needed dialogue is happening, though the first one is a little… well, just read it. I think we need to keep it going, keep it in the news –which is why I’m glad this week’s group made ‘the news’ its own section. A lot of people decry ‘slacktivism’ or activism that isn’t actually ‘doing’ anything. But by speaking about it and getting our opinions out there, like we’re doing in this blog, we’re contributing to thoughts. Social change begins with thoughts; ideas begin with free discourse. By sharing your opinion, we’re creating discourse, generating ideas, and responding to one another. That’s the root of the problem: changing how people think of gender and success. It’s not an easily accomplished task, not by any means, but it’s something worth championing.

    For Professor Dan, have you done any studies on gender and success specifically? How are you contributing to the dialogue on it? For Professor Cathy, how does this dialogue come up in your work? For both of them, how have you seen the dialogue change over the years?

  10. Category 1 – “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”

    I recently read this article that explores the widely accepted claim that women earn 70 cents for every dollar that men earn. James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation explains this pay divide: “This gender gap is not the result of rampant discrimination. Rather, it exists because men and women often work in different jobs, work different hours, and have different qualifications. When work experience, education, occupation, and hours of work are taken into account, the average woman makes 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man.”

    The conclusions of “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” could help support the idea behind the supposed gender gap – that women don’t earn as much as men because they aren’t negotiating for higher pay. But there seems to be a fundamental piece of information missing in this HBR article: what is the gender of those with whom women are negotiating with or not negotiating with?

    Are women more likely to negotiate for “what they want and deserve” if their boss is a female? Or are women just generally less inclined to negotiate due to their socialization process?

    Category 2 – “What I Wish I Had Known as an Underclassmen”

    The Greek Culture Initiative survey certainly presents a number of startling findings. Chief among these is the conclusion that overall, 80 percent of males compared to 69 percent of females feel that they belong and that, more importantly, the feeling of belongingness can actually be seen more in freshmen than seniors. Eight-four percent of the class of 2016 agreed that they belong at Duke, compared to 60 percent of the class of 2012.

    I understand why there might be a gap in the sense of belonging felt by men and women at Duke – perhaps it is the result of objectification of females, issues with greek culture, and even, a difference in the feeling of community created by men as compared to women.

    But what is about Duke that causes for a decline in the sense of belonging felt by seniors as compared to freshmen? Obviously this conclusion would be more poignant if it compared how the same cohort felt as freshmen compared to how they now feel as seniors, but it does seem to speak to a larger issue with Duke.

    What happens along the course of a student’s career here that makes them feel like they don’t belong, particularly at the end of their time at Duke, when they should have the most amount of friends and be most connected with both the student body and the university? I would imagine that the sense of belonging should be on somewhat of an upward trajectory over time, but the results of this study seem antithetical to my view.

    Category 3 – “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”

    Rather than lamenting the flaws of womanhood, Professor Slaughter brilliantly presents something that most folks don’t want to hear – that “having it all” is not solely based on personal determination. I agree. In order for us to see the equality of opportunity and experience for men and women in the workforce, we need two things – (a) workplaces that provide women with more freedom and flexibility to control their own schedules and (b) a balance of power among men and women in the work and home settings. To the first point, women with young children should be allowed to spend a certain percentage of their hours working from home. Assuming that these women still provide quality work and are in constant communication with their colleagues while working from home, this allowance will provide working mothers with the opportunity to effectively navigate their work and family lives. And regarding the necessary balance between men and women, it is essential that husbands and wives share their family responsibilities equally. Men should take advantage of the fact that they are effective negotiators, as we learned in “Nice Girls Don’t Ask,” and contribute to family life as much as their wives do by demanding more flexibility from their jobs to spend more time with their families.

    What does “having it all” mean to you? Do you think your gender allows you to “have it all”?

    • Sheryl Sandberg discusses on 60 Minutes that a life partner is one of the biggest career decisions of a woman’s life. She says that this is crucial to having the balance at home that jatlantis mentions. But I think her message may have been taken to the extreme this week by Susan A. Patton. An alumna of Princeton University, Patton wrote an article to the Daily Princetoniatian for current female students that included the following quote:

      Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out … Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.

      Patton encourages Princeton women to quickly secure a fellow graduate who would be on the same intellectual footing in marriage. An interesting question for Monday’s class would be is Patton’s argument (that includes elements of classism) anti-feminist even though she is in line with Sandberg?

  11. Social Science –
    Behavioral differences between men and women are interesting. Nice Girls Don’t Ask resonated with me – I definitely feel I’d be very timid about asking for a raise. The article hit the nail on the head in saying that women may feel they’d be perceived as “bitchy” or “pushy” because I think I would shy away from asserting myself for these reasons. I often feel men accomplish more because they are more okay with being straightforward than females. I think women consider others’ emotions and thoughts about their actions much more than men do. One bold statement from “Why are men so foolish?” was that women are more likely than men to compete when they feel they are in an environment in which competition is relevant to their success. Not so sure about this. I don’t think that these circumstances are an on/off switch for female competition.

    Question: Why are females less confident than men? Why do men get away with being more aggressive than females do – I mean this in terms of their behavior not being associated with terms like “annoying” or “pushy”?

    Literature –
    Though I support what The Chronicle article is trying to educate students about, I have a few problems with it. The article states that women feel less respected [than men do] by both men and other women. I agree with this. It suggests that a reason for this is “sexist fraternity emails and party themes”. I personally don’t feel this is the case. I receive emails from a bunch of fraternities. I really don’t think they are intended to objectify women the way they sometimes are taken; I feel they use these objectifications kind of sarcastically because they know these statements are ridiculous. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think males at this school would intend to make women feel insecure and objectified. Second, I don’t remember being part of this survey. I feel there is probably a response bias in these data. Third, yes, the gender culture at Duke absolutely needs improvement. But I think this is also a more global problem – this disparity between male and female confidence is no way just a problem at Duke. I think a lot of the problem comes from the way culture in our generation is evolving in general. It is so important to make an effort rise above these gender issues at Duke; but I’m just bothered that this article makes it seem like it’s Duke’s fault that females have low confidence because there is much more going on than the Greek life at Duke.

    Question: Do you really think these frat emails are offensive? Have you read any? Or would you take them with a grain of salt? A lot of humor is sarcastic, witty, and offensive. Do these jokes not fall into those categories? Is this another situation where people are being too politically correct about things?

    “Leaning In”
    “Women Still Can’t Have It All” makes me nervous for my future. I never know what to respond when people ask me what I want to do after college. I’m one of the people who considers that I really want to be home with my family. And I know that so many jobs don’t allow for this. But I also know that I will be frustrated by not having a job – I will be bored and feel that I am not putting everything I’ve learned to good use. Hopefully I’ll figure out a balance later on.

    Question: Why should I continue to work so hard in school and try to get competitive jobs when I know I’m ultimately going to take A LOT of time off to be with my family? Sometimes I forget what I’m working so hard for, other than the fact that not trying my best would really bother me.

  12. Category 1:
    Nice Girls Don’t Ask

    I found that this article revealed an important insight on how women are treated when making negotiations. When women ask for things and demand more, they are considered “bitchy,” but when men negotiate they are considered “alpha males” or strong figures that should be followed and listened to. I think that this problem arises because of how society works. Women grow up watching television and movies that promote the idea that nice girls are complacent and docile—rarely asking for things and going with the flow. Men are more portrayed as breaking the mold and making negotiations for things—in short, men get things done. My example is the television show, Breaking Bad, in which the lead character makes negotiations with drug dealers, king pins, and thugs in order to get what he wants. His wife, on the other hand, follows whatever her husband wants. Granted, she leaves him and puts up a fight; however, in the end, she supports him and allows him to make all of the tough calls. She’s a nice girl. She sticks with her husband and supports him. Although this example may not be the best to demonstrate my point, I hope that it represents the central theme of my conjecture.

    My question for the professors: When will girls be able to negotiate and also be considered nice? Do you think that the media promotes this idea?

    Category 2:

    I think that the Girls pilot episode shows that women are not necessarily good at asking for what they want. After two years of working for at a job, she finally musters up the courage to ask for what she wants—a raise. She is shot down. This long duration of working at a place and trying to act “nice,” like so many girls do according to the article above, proved not to be the most successful route. I do not know what exactly this message is supposed to reveal about women in the workplace. Does it suggest that the main character should have asked sooner? Or does it hint that in the current state of our society, women should simply not ask? This line of thought makes me think that Girls is trying to play off of the fact that recent female college grads are stuck at the end of an era: society is becoming more progressive and women are making strong strides at achieving equality in the workplace; however, one of the last hurdles is the ability to negotiate successfully. The main character is clearly qualified, but there is one part of her resume that is holding her back: being a woman. Perhaps if the show were entitled Boys, the episode would have been about how the lead male character asks for what he wants and gets it.

    My question for the professors: Is the biggest component of the glass ceiling for women in the workplace the ability to negotiate? If the lead character were a man, would he have been promoted?

    Category 3:
    Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

    I thought that the message of this article is necessary for the current feminist movement. When the author was discouraged for writing this article titled as such, I had the same initial reaction as her. If you are opposed to the message in this article, then you are not being pragmatic. The reason that women cannot have their cake (top, high-caliber positions) and eat it too (maintain the position of main caretaker for their children) is current social cues and standards: women are supposed to care for the children, while men have to in a lesser extent. Once this mold is broken, and when men are equally likely to be the stay-at-home parent, then women can have the chance to have equal numbers at the top. Until this time, women will have to jeopardize their careers if they want to prioritize being caretaker for the child. My uncle is a stay at home dad, while my aunt is an attorney in Virginia. She works incredibly hard for her family, and so does my uncle. However, they are often judged for the way that their household is structured. Until my uncle is not judged for being a stay-at-home dad and men and women are equally as likely to prioritize their children above their careers, women will not be able to have it all.

    My question for the professors: When do you think that being a “stay-at-home” dad will be completely acceptable in America?

  13. Category 1: Social Science
    Since I’m currently taking a statistics course, I was very skeptical while reading these articles. I was pleased that the author of “Why are men so foolish?” pointed out that although the social science studies show differences in the average tendencies of men and women, these differences are not representative of the behavior of all people. The “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” revealed some tendencies (men’s objections to payments in a study outnumbered women’s nine to one) were eye-opening. How did this complacency develop in women? Where does it come from? Like afivez wrote, “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” was scary. I can read about complacency and vow to negotiate, but until I’m in a situation negotiating my salary, I can’t know for sure how I will react.

    After reading these papers, I tried to find research about women’s tendencies to take the initiative (or not take the initiative) in relationships. I couldn’t find anything with Google Scholar, though I would be interested to find if differences in negotiating in work environments carry over into other aspects of life.

    Question: Is there a scientifically proven successful strategy for negotiating? (Play hard to get, be willing to compromise, etc.)

    Category 2: Literature

    In February we read an article about “The End of Courtship” and how twenty-something college graduates settle for hook ups because that’s what they are used to from college. I think the pilot of “Girls” was an excellent example of this: we saw Lena Dunham’s character struggle with this type of undefined relationship. In this pilot episode we see Dunham talk to her boss about getting paid. The boss shuts her down entirely, and Dunham loses her internship altogether. Perhaps this illustrates why some women are afraid of bargaining for more: it’s risky business, and, in Dunham’s case, it only makes things worse.

    Since I first read the Chronicle commentary “What I wish I had known as an underclassman”, I have had multiple discussions about women in Duke culture and I have heard personal accounts about the truth of these statistics, as well as objections to some of the more outrageous claims of this article. I actually read this article in conjunction with this (, which intensified the article’s message. Regardless of how we define “unwanted sexual contact,” I think that something needs to be done, beginning with campus conversation. What concerns me most about this article is the difference in confidence level by gender of Duke graduates. I chose to go to college in part because I wanted to prepare myself for a career, which involved gaining the confidence necessary to enter the work force by marketing myself. If Duke women leave college less confident than men, then our university has failed us, whether it is the institution or the student body’s fault.

    Question: What can the university do to right the disparity in confidence levels, as described by the Chronicle article?

    Category 3: “Leaning In” — Gender and Success in the News
    In the script of her 60 Minutes interview, Sheryl Sandberg says: “Women attribute their success to working hard, luck, and help from other people. Men will attribute that– whatever success they have, that same success, to their own core skills.” I was surprised by how the first description fits my thoughts entirely, but why is that such a bad thing? My success really does come from hard work, luck and the help of others, like Sandberg says, in addition to some core skills (that have been developed with the help of others). To say that I achieved anything alone would be false, and, furthermore, sound incredibly conceited. Is it bad to be humble? Maybe men should think more like women. Why do women have to be the ones to change in this case?

    Sandberg’s final reply was ironic: In response to the question why she doesn’t run for president if she wants to see a female president, Sandberg said, “I mean, for me, I feel like I’m doing all the leaning in that I can do right now.” And isn’t this the exact attitude she condemned in her interview? Women don’t lean in because they’re already “leaning in” enough. We can’t push limits unless we risk leaning in so much that we fall flat on our faces.

    Question: From your professional lives, how have you balanced these two ideas: accrediting success to others, good luck, and hard work versus attributing success to core skills?

  14. bluedevil4life

    Category 1
    Social Science: “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”

    I agree with Babock et al, much of the reason why women do not negotiate has to do with socialization. Due to the differences in which society views and treats women consciously and subconsciously contributes to the behaviors women bestow. This is true for both men and women. I’m sure we have all seen instances either personally or through the media of a young boy falling and incurring a minor scrape and the father telling the son that “he’s fine” or “to go rub some dirt in it” whereas if the same situation were to occur with a fathers daughter he would probably embrace his daughter and ask her if everything is okay and reassure her that “Daddy is here, everything is okay”. When instances like this happen over time it causes genders to internalize certain personality traits. Society, especially in the western hemisphere has made it more acceptable for men to be assertive and women to be more cordial and considerate of the well-being of others instead of themselves. However, just because we are socialized in one way does not mean that we cannot train ourselves to act in a stereotypically atypical manner. I am a firm believer in each one of us taking more responsibility on the decisions and actions that are a part of our lives. I believe that we each have control over more aspects of our lives than we even realize and we should all, women and men, take on more responsibility in our lives.

    What are structural changes that can be made in the negotiating process in the workplace that can empower women to negotiate and thus bring us closer to creating equity in pay for both genders?

    Category 2
    Literature: “What I Wish I Had Known As An Underclassmen”

    I am one for equality and was startled at some of the statistics presented in this article. Having three siblings (two sisters & one brother) of my own it would pain me if one of my sisters were overpowered and sexually assaulted. Nobody should ever be taken advantage of. I am all for the feminist movement sometimes there are a few feminists (men & women) that take it to a point where they make sexist comments against men. I am all for feminism that encompasses equal gender rights, ideally it would be great if we could find a way to enlighten the minute minority of feminists that exhibit sexist beliefs/actions.

    What are some changes that can be done that will lower the sexual assault rate not only at Duke but around the world as well? It is of my feeling that harsher repercussions won’t change it.

    Category 3
    Gender & Success in the News: 60 Minutes interview with Sheryl Sandberg
    The interview with Sheryl Sandberg was captivating. I enjoyed the part where she talked about how women attribute their success to hard work, luck, and help from others while men tend to attribute it to their skill-set. I believe there is a happy medium between the two. I appreciated her sincere response when asked what she attributes her success to. I think that was by far the best answer. Men should not fool themselves into thinking that their skill-set is the sole reason why they are successful and women should not fool themselves into thinking that their skill-set that they acquired through hard work is not part of the reason that they are successful. Furthermore, I thought that Sheryl belief that women’s hesitance of taking on leadership is one of the big reasons why there is not enough equality in the workplace. While I believe that people (in this situation women) should take on more responsibility in their lives and such some assertiveness in some instances I also think that mangers should be more cognizant of this and find ways to encourage women to take on more leadership roles in the workplace.

    What changes can be done in the workplace to empower women to take on more leadership roles?

    • You make an interesting point that some feminist do little to serve their cause in making sexists accusations against men. It may be a fine line between highlighting the depth of gender inequality and disparaging all men. The fact is most sex crimes against both women and men are overwhelmingly committed by men, to the point that the number committed by women is nearly negligent. To pervert this statistic into a false notion that all men are evil is a rather obtuse deduction and truthfully, neither attracts many to the feminist agenda nor is an healthy or productive way to engage with these issues.

      What we can do is understand how social constructs and our own behaviors promote gender inequality. If you give feminism a chance, honestly that’s probably what you’ll take away from it and not ‘we hate men’. What I think could be helpful is if all students at Duke were required to take one Womens’ studies course. Both men and women would benefit greatly from understanding how we perpetrate regressive gender constructs.

  15. Category 1: Social Science, Why Are Men So Foolish?

    While this was an interesting article that shed light on some important differences between men and women, I couldn’t help thinking the entire time, “What if this were called, ‘Why Are Women So Foolish’?” Or, more appropriately – “Why Are Women So Meek?” What if this article had, instead of portraying men to be foolishly competitive, emphasized the fact that women are foolishly not competitive enough? There would probably be a lot more backlash. The research paper that this article references does a better job of providing objective explanations as to why men are more competitive than women without mocking men for overestimating their abilities. While this article’s added observation was entertaining to read and may be true, I wonder if the article would have given rise to more controversy had it poked fun at women in the same way. I think that if we women want to demand respect from men, we should be careful to treat men in the same way we would want to be treated. Otherwise we should all just do away with the political correctness in general and say whatever we want about each other without getting offended (this is a completely serious, non-sarcastic suggestion).

    Question: How do we reconcile the fact that women are often given a “free pass” in terms of political correctness and issues of equality because of their historically lower status in society?

    Category 2: Literature, “What I Wish I had Known as an Underclassman”

    First off, I do have to say I’m really confused as to why so many groups keep lumping Chronicle articles into literature…this is actually very strange. Duke Chronicle is not a literary publication, it’s a student newspaper. Moving past this, my issue with this article is that it acknowledges that Greek life is what perpetuates gender problems on campus, and yet proceeds to give the Greek organizations credit for starting to fix the problems that they embody. It seems to me like the authors tried to drive home a point and then got scared and decided to back down.

    “The greek community has started to serve as a model for the greater Duke community by finding ways to address the gender issues that plague college campuses across the nation. However, the student body as a whole needs to come together to tackle these issues.”

    The greek system essentially is the gender issue at Duke. Freshmen girls come in and are sorted into groups based on how attractive they are, and then are told which frats they are good enough to mix with, and girls are supposed to feel good about that? They are supposed to gain confidence from this process? It is ludicrous to laud the greek community for “serving as a model” when they are simply responding to years of pressure from administration and the rest of the student body for their consistently demeaning attitudes towards women. The statistic that is missing from this article is one that shows confidence levels of greek female upperclassmen vs. independent female upperclassmen. This should give us a better idea of who the perpetrators on this campus are. Most of my closest girlfriends are in “top” or “Core Four” sororities here at Duke, and none of them have felt that their sorority contributed to their confidence or self-worth. If anything, most of them have complained that their confidence levels have plummeted since coming to Duke, noting the increased pressure to act and be perceived as perfect all the time.

    Question: To what extent does superficiality, or overemphasis on physical attractiveness either from internal or external influences, build or destroy confidence in women?

    Category 3: “Leaning in”, Slaughter v. Sandberg

    I love the juxtaposition of these two views, and I’m glad you had us consider both of them. I find myself agreeing with both women in some way or other, and I don’t believe that their perspectives are necessarily as polarizing as people might think. I agree with Sandberg that women are not ambitious enough if we hope to one day attain the same proportion of C-suite leadership as men, or if we want to put a woman in the White House in the near future. Too many smart and capable women decide to give up their dreams and careers in favor of their personal lives, and that is a shame for the rest of the world, which could really benefit from their leadership. However, I completely agree with Slaughter’s argument that we shouldn’t think any less of these women who choose their families over their careers, because it is just close to impossible to “have it all” the way society is set up right now, especially for women who are not as privileged as Sandberg. I believe that women should be entitled to the right to decide which aspect of their lives come first. If we have to sacrifice something, we should be able to choose what we want to sacrifice without anyone making us feel bad about it.

    Question: Is it fair for Sandberg to put pressure on women to “lean in,” if that is simply not the first priority in their lives?

    • To push back on your points related to the Greek Culture Initiative and the gender issue at Duke, do you think our peer institutions – ones that are private, attract bright students and have a large greek population – face the same sort of problems related to the experiences of women on their campuses?

      While we may think we are unique in the issues related to hazing, academic dishonesty, alcohol abuse, racism, and sexual misconduct, I would argue that the problems we see at Duke are likely not symptomatic of our university or our students, but college students in general.

      Like many universities, Duke has its share of scandals yearly. New students arrive and old students leave and yet, we see history repeat itself. It’s not that the Admissions Office is admitting student who they think will be most likely to become bigots. Bringing together smart folks from around the world and giving them all the freedom imaginable causes them reevaluate their morals and values in a way that fashions a campus in which sensitivity to identity markers like gender and race lessens, creating a cycle of new issues for the university to face.

  16. Cat. 1: Social Science

    Thinking about the differences between male and females in terms of risk appetite and confidence as mentioned in the Salon article, I am curious how these behavioral differences might translate to the world of entrepreneurship. While studies indicate that women tend to be harder working in the workplace, in the risky and uncertain world of entrepreneurship, is an appetite for risk and (over)confidence that men exhibit necessary to do well? Statistics show that men are more entrepreneurial than women (at least in terms of # profitable businesses started), so it the surface it seems that yes, these traits matter. Furthermore, how might risk and overconfidence play into innovation and far-fetched projects. If coupled with skill, can overconfidence help drive innovation, prompting risk taking where reason dictates risks should not be taken?

    For the profs: Acknowledging that men and women are different and have different strengths, how can these a differences between men and women (risk appetite, work ethic, attention to detail, confidence, etc.) be leveraged to create more efficient workplaces?

    Cat. 2: Literature

    After reading, “What I wish I had known as an underclassman” I was immediately struck by how much of a problem “unwanted sexual contact” is at Duke. While a rather vague term, regardless of what respondents are exactly considering when they report that, the fact that 1/3 of female respondents say they have experienced it is scary. Less shocking, but similarly troubling is the statistics on confidence.

    Many of the females in my classes are Duke are some of the most confident, strong willed, and articulate women that I have worked with in any setting. I would be interested to know more about the derivation of this reported lack of confidence. Are they less confident in their appearance? overall self worth? intellectual ability? What about Duke’s campus culture is driving this? How do men compare? I would not be surprised if overall confidence in both genders decreased during students’ tenure at Duke given that students come from being the big fish in high school to smaller fish in Duke’s highly talented and competitive environment (spanning academics, internships, and campus social hierarchy). Furthermore, between the ages of 18-22, many of our youthful illusions about life begin to dissolve as we face the larger and not so pretty world on our own. Understanding more of the underlying dynamics at work in these confidence issues will help inform the prescriptions needed to positively reform campus culture.

    For the profs: Do you think that this reported lack of confidence is something specific to women (and therefore a gender problem in Duke’s culture), or might this be a problem for men too, and thus indicative of different underlying drivers?

    Category 3: Leaning In

    Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article made me consider how familial structure and family life is evolving and will continue to evolve in light of women’s increased role in the workplace. Many families in which two parents work outsource parenting duties to nannies, after school programs, etc. How is this affecting children? Can adults balance work and family life, achieving their own professional and other life goals, while at the same time providing their children with the proper attention and empowerment to achieve their own goals down the road (and be good people)? The great challenge and cost of raising children, in terms of money and opportunity/time costs, is leading to a lower fertility rate nationally, especially among wealthier adults with two parents working. As more women work how will these trends continue to shift?

    For the profs: In the face of the great time demands of professional life (and especially professional success), what are some ways to better split/manage parenting duties? In your opinion, how are kids affected by various parenting/childcare arrangements?

  17. I find particularly interesting the notion that women are statistically as successful in political campaigns but are far less likely to run. Certainly this is empirical (that fewer women run) but I had previously thought they were also less likely to be elected. Perhaps, it is this perception that causes fewer women to run. This reminded me of the problem that women who act courageously and ambitiously are often viewed negatively, because doing so does not conform to an outdated societal conception that they must be meek (similar to the Cult of Domesticity).I remember when Hillary Clinton was running for President in 2008, commentators noted her aggressive tendencies and seemed to implicitly suggest that she was too manly. Do we think society will adjust to the proliferation of women in competitive positions, or is there anything that can be done to appreciate women who compete with other women, and most significantly, men?

    I am surprised you did not offer the controversial Chronicle article about equal pay. I find the gender inequality of earnings to be a particularly interesting issue and I hope we have an opportunity to discuss it in class. Certainly I don’t believe women should be less compensated for equal work, nor do I think women are less productive. I do, however, recognize that many women choose to leave the workforce to raise children and some of them never return. Therefore, statistically, they are a more difficult investment for many firms to project. As it relates to the discussion of sexual harassment–this is obviously a very serious issue on college campuses. I think the biggest issue, however, is the unreported issues. There was a comment that because the percentage of unreported offenses is likely consistent across the board, we can dismiss Duke’s higher number of reports and conclude that Duke has more offenses. Conversely, I would argue that the percentages of reports is highly variable and the rate of offenses is probably more consistent. For this I think we can credit Duke for having a positive and supportive culture around reporting sexual assault. I also think alcohol makes this issue very complicated. Because neither party can legally provide consent while intoxicated, and I would imagine most of these issues occur while individuals are inebriated, it makes it very difficult to assess sexual offenses.

    I actually disagree with much of what Sheryl Sandberg says in her piece. I can’t understand what it is like to be a woman, so I can’t attempt to discredit her experiential statements. I will say, however, that I see a great number of intelligent women here at Duke who work hard, and to use a cliche “push the envelope.” These women don’t feel the need to downplay their accomplishments or to attribute their success to others. I can certainly see how she feels being a leader in a corporate environment, but in every corporate environment in which I have worked, the women are some of the more impressive, vocal, and confident leaders. I think rather than women adjusting to this environment, like Sheryl suggests, that women like Sheryl should learn to embrace their skills and keep up the good work. Eventually, I am forecasting, workplaces will adjust to having more women in them, since the role of women business leaders is a concept fewer than four decades old.

    • I think Sheyl Snadberg’s argument can be made empirically too- you may see women pushing the envelope in the corporate environment, but there aren’t as many there as there should be.
      I think maybe as men we take charge of our ‘achievements’ to much; there’s a neat Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she mentions the advantages of attributing one’s success to outside sources more. If, as men, we decrease our sense of pride, then perhaps our competitive tendencies will be calmed to an extent, and men and women could meet somewhere in the middle.

  18. Category I: Social Science
    As a PubPol major, I found the first study quite interesting, explaining why more men run and are ambitious. I didn’t get to finish the reading as I am posting, but will do so before my peer response. I think this is pretty true though in terms of my own experiences, although women at Duke aren’t as passive or timid as the general woman.
    The second article complemented the first in that women don’t really speak up for themselves as much and I can really see this with my close girl friends. Even though she seems confident and put-together in some settings, I notice that she really shrinks down and devalues herself when it comes to interviews.
    Dr. Davidson seems like she is not the norm, but she is not in class, so a question to the guest interviewee would be:
    Did you have to push yourself or feel uncomfortable when being interviewed, negotiating for salary, or just speaking up in general?

    Category II: Literature
    I’m not sure why the show Girls was listed under the literature category.
    When I initially watched it, I thought it was quite disturbing and just a bunch of stupid post-college girls, making poor life decisions. However, as I thought about it and talked about it to a close friend who had finished the first season, I saw how it highlights an aspect of life/women that we normally don’t see in media. There are shows depicting girls in college or high school and shows about working women in their 30s or moms, but nothing quite in between.
    I looked up a bit more background about this series, and thought it was interesting that the producer used her own life experiences.

    Does media’s portrayal of girls/women as having it all put more pressure on girls/women to be successful at everything?

    Category III: Leaning In
    I thought this was pretty big recent news and was glad that it was part of the required readings. I had previously read the Slaughter article and even though she was really criticized for it, as unfortunate as it is, I agreed that it is hard for women to truly have everything.

    As for the Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, said, I thought her message was controversial, but one that needed to be voiced. It is hard to “lean in” when women have so many responsibilities and tasks in the household on top of their job.

    I guess an easy question would be what do you think about Sandberg and Slaughter’s claims that it is hard to do such a thing, but I want to go deeper than just that. Rather than just asking what their opinions are on these topics, why do you think women in high positions get so much attention when they say something like this. Is it because they are visible or because they are women. I am curious what other women in high positions such as Mrs. Clinton thinks.

  19. 1. “Nice Girls Don’t Ask”
    I was shocked by some of the statistics included in this article. The study of differences in starting salaries of Carengie Mellon MBAs makes it very clear that there is a gender divide in the workplace. But if this article is showing statistics about how women do not negoitate as much as men, and that this behavior is attributed to socialized learning from an early age (messaging from parents, teachers, media, society), then is managerial action the one call-to-action here? Most companies have methods in place to prevent gender inequality. Tools such as weekly 1:1s with managers, feedback loops, people operations software, and quarterly performance reviews are common examples. Even though male employees are more likely to negotiate their salaries with a manager, nothing is guaranteed. A manager must use this criteria, which include how one is performing comparative to peer employees. The article makes it sounds that men get pay increases if they simply ask. I have more confidence that evaluative criteria used by managers is more holistic and equitable. While interning at Google I was shocked at the mechanisms they have in place for performance evaluation. It is the role of the director to make sure that all members of the team contribute, delegate work, and engage in performance reviews.

    Perhaps another angle to look at is that mothers bear the burden in parenting. It is difficult for women to spend time away from their newborns while at work. This is why maternity leave and family benefits are provided by employers; however, extended time away from work means less time focusing on the career path and less leverage for negotiations about performance and/or salary.

    This article and the media coverage of female leadership in the workplace suggest that the work environment is becoming increasingly supportive of women. Look at Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Meir. They are absolutely dominating the headlines on tech blogs with their forward thinking leadership at two of the most innovative companies in the world. And they are openly speaking about problems encountered by women in the workplace. In fact, before her public TED talk “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”, Sandberg had never spoken about women’s issues in public before. She is now a the lead advocate for female empowerment in the workplace.

    Question for Professors: If we are assuming that negotiating power for women is a problem specific to managerial effectiveness, do you think that differences in salaries for men and women is best solved by a top-down approach from managers or a grassroots approach in the workforce in which the employees are the watchdogs who promote the transparency?

    2. “GIRLS”
    In my opinion I think that Girls is way too honest for TV. There are parts that make me laugh and parts that make me wildly uncomfortable. The latter outweighs the former big time. I am impressed that Lena Dunham writes, acts and produces the entire series. That is an impressive feat. I would imagine that the show has a much larger female following than male (The title is self-explanatory of this assumption), as it confronts challenges encountered by girls: socially, professionally, sexually…you name it. So maybe it isn’t for guys? It is clear that this show is a drastic change in direction for how we see ourselves and females on TV. I think the word is honesty. Girls portrays women and men, the relationships and dynamics, as honestly as possible. At times the show seems almost too real. I feel that I’ve met Hanna and the gang out at Duke before. I suppose this is why the show is so great. Male or female, it is safe to say that we all know a Hanna in our lives, or recognize that some of those broken pieces that are Hanna live inside us.

    Question for the profs: Do you think that the show GIRLS will have positive implications on how women are portrayed in other shows or in the media at large? Is its documentary style too honest or is this genius? The show certainly has personality — the uncomfortable topics we try to steer clear of. I’ve encountered many mixed reviews and look forward to hearing yours.

    3. 60 Minutes interview with Sheryl Sandberg:

    Wow. She is so awesome. I think the most compelling parts of this interview are when the interviewer becomes more aggressive with her questions. For example, she acknowledges that Sandberg’s campaign “Lean In” gains a ton of criticism. Among them: Why should people take this advice from a billionaire? Lean In– easy for her to say. And that the messaging only targets elite women with the resources to become powerful. I agree that the message somehow forgets that not every woman can go to Harvard and gain the networks and opportunities she was presented with. However, her effort seems very genuine and, as one of the most powerful women in business, she is an agent for change in this space. It was fascinating to see the readings come together in the interview when she says that the problem does not have to do with men in the workforce or gender biases, but that women are holding themselves back. Still, I can see how less fortunate women might be turned off by the message — how can they “Lean In” when adverse socioeconomic realities are pressing against them? I think that it is easy to become lost in Sandberg’s brand and message. I think her effort is commendable, but there are so many more problems that prevent women from “leaning in” than the fact that they are holding themselves back…

    • I agree with your post about Girls: the show is sometimes too brutally realistic and uncomfortable at times. However, I think that it is refreshing to be made uncomfortable by television shows today–far too much shows just play off of the established structures and tendencies that guarantee solid ratings. Lena Dunham definitely put her name on the line by breaking from the mold and giving viewers something that they are, on one hand, not used to seeing on the television screen, but on the other hand, are accustomed to seeing in their daily lives. Perhaps some viewers dislike the show because they come to television series to enjoy a time of fantasy: where fat, average men are married to attractive younger women, for example. This show presents an honest portrayal of young women encountering problems of contemporary life. Although I do enjoy my run-of-the-mill sitcoms, Girls with its documentary style gives me a different, refreshing satisfaction–reality. I really hope that the professors answer your question from this category. I personally think that the popularity of Girls will be positive for how women are casted and portrayed in sitcoms today. It’s OK to have an average looking main female character. It’s OK to talk about real, honest issues. It’s also OK to be a girl.

    • Peer Response: 60 Minutes Interview

      I liked Sandberg’s take on everything. I thought she was sincerely trying to provide a solution to the lack on women in leadership roles in the workplace. I thought that the interviewer asked a good question when she asked why people should take advice from a billionaire that most people can’t relate to financially. I think that people couldn’t be getting advice from a better resource. Sandberg is living proof that her advice can come to fruition. I think that women with a family and husband in the household should try to take Sandberg’s advice to heart. It is possible for women to continue to thrive in the workplace even after they have children. It just takes a commitment from both the husband and wife to take on roles that are stereotypical atypical. My older sister and her family are a living testament of this. She has two young children but is in residency for pediatrics. She works 70-80 hours a week. Not including her 3 hour round trip commute but her and her husband share many of the household responsibilities that women traditionally do. This has made it so that they are able to fully cater to the needs of their children while also being able to fulfill their personal career goals.

  20. Category 1
    The idea that men focus on potential reward while women focus on odds makes sense- I assume women have a lower incidence of gambling problem, and I know my sisters are less likely to make an accusation in Clue. Does this mean, however, that men are more likely to be optimistic and women to be pragmatic? The risk gap can be seen to an extent in entrepreneurship, but is scientific research also affected? The notion that young men do worse at highly selective schools due to attention on competition, but I wonder what implication this has on morality- i.e. are men more jealous (they don’t want others to be so good) or are they just harder on themselves? I understand the feeling of academic inadequacy, and this evidently translates into relationships as well- men generally are less tolerant of partners who are smarter or stronger than themselves.

    -How can we use our knowledge of men and women’s differences in understanding risk, and use it to enhance collaboration?

    category 2
    The high incidence of disrespect towards women on duke’s campus is worrisome, especially because it is a general trend. The problem can probably be located in men’s tendency to objectify and various patriarchal dispositions. Hana Roslin’s ted talk provides some reassurance that women will continue to excel professionally, but professional and intellectual success does not immediately translate into respect. In many cases, in fact, it leads towards resentment; perhaps this has to do with aforementioned competition problems common among men. Many men objectify women; on campus ‘sexiness ratings’ etc. are the norm- but as age increases, and hormone levels decrease, objectification may become less rampant. Something that bothers me is opposition to religious practices such as wearing headscarves on the grounds that they oppress women; many women who wear such garments express the greater respect they feel now that objectification has decreased. A comment in the chronicle article raises an important issue though: why should women have to do anything while men are at fault?

    -How do we overcome gender biases and change other’s?

    category 3
    The challenge of balancing a family life and attaining professional success permeates our society, but the renegotiation of what constitutes a career may help alleviate difficulties. In today’s fast moving world, office hours may become less important, and the rise of online meetings is making entrepreneurship more accessible. The role of men in families is subject to change too; I have family friends’ whose dad takes care of the house and whose mom works. The kids are going to extremely selective schools, so it works. The uncomfortability many women have in leadership is also subject to change as we become more conscious of it. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, mentions in a TED talk that trying to occupy less space, i.e. curling up in class, is correlated with decreased participation as testosterone is lowered and cortisol increased; women were more likely to occupy such low power positions. When people forced themselves to occupy high power positions, i.e. take up more space, spread out, they were more confident across the board- as Dr. Cuddy says, little social norms like standing/sitting position can be altered to affect drastic change, all that is required is consciousness.

    -Do men and women have different leadership styles? If so, how should leadership development in colleges function?

  21. (1) “Nice girls don’t ask”
    Even though I do understand that the authors aim to put together ideas to support women in workforce, I am having a hard time believing in the effectiveness of their method. I do not think that having employees encourage a negotiation for a promotion or a raise is a productive idea. Having a mommy or daddy-like employer is just the opposite of what a professional work environment needs to be. It is even more surprising to see that the authors of this article are four women in academia. One would think that people in their positions would be more careful about how they frame the ideas of feminism, but it seems like this is not true. Unfortunately, I have observed that it is this kind of biased idealism that make feminism seem so irritating for a lot of men and women who actually want equal opportunities for both parts. The main reason why “nice girls don’t ask” is because of the societal gender roles that these “nice girls” are born and raised into. Instead of acting with the acceptance of these gender roles, as these authors seem to suggest, I think that it is crucial to find ways to overcome them in our and surely in the future generations.
    Question: Do you think the system of having employers encourage female employees to negotiate and ask for what they want a productive method in the long-term?

    (2) What I wish I had known as an underclassman

    When I saw the title first, I initially thought that it was going to be an article that gives advice to underclassmen on matters relating to social life at Duke or career choices. Even though I thought they could have found a more suiting title for their article, I truly appreciate that the authors have portrayed to the entire Duke community the gravity of the problem we are facing relating to the level of sexual assault at Duke. Most of us knew the presence of sexual assault at Duke from hearsay, but now we know that we have a very serious problem. It is already alarming to hear that more than a third of all women in this campus have experienced unwanted sexual contact, but something that was even more horrifying was to see the level of normalization of the problem. How did we let this problem grow to such a degree? I think that there needs to be a substantial change in the social life system, the unwritten rules and what seems to be the overlooked freedom that is present. Moreover, as an educational institutions we need to make sure that even if certain students were previously, and wrongly, exposed to an outdated version of societal gender roles, by the time that they graduate they are able to represent the Duke community in the way we want to be represented.
    Question: How can we install a better understanding of mutual respect in the social life of Duke community?

    (3) “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”

    I agree with this article in that modern feminists have been painting a powder-pink picture of how it is surely possible for women to have it all. It seems like it is all about hard work, dedication and also knowing when to be say, “I’m done for the day” to go back to one’s family. This idea about having a balanced work and family life seems to simply depend on being a “strong and independent woman”. But we all need to accept that things are different for women than they are for men. So we have to plan our education, careers, jobs, and marriages accordingly. We have to plan things well so that our sacrifices will make minimal damage our both lives. I am probably one of the biggest suckers for this lie of having it all; I still believe that it is possible. However I also know that I will, at different points in my life, need to sacrifice one or the other.
    Question: What needs to change in the society for women to be able to have it all?

  22. Category 1:

    I am very happy to read such an article, that helps explain away my low confidence compared to males. I have noticed recently the phenomenon of female general lack of confidence in public speaking. Why do consulting firms like McKinsey recruit predominately white males? First, males tend by nature to be more confidence. Second, white males are more likely to come from a privileged background where self-doubt is less likely to occur for them. It is an affirmative self-fulfilling reinforcement. Third, by nature they are more likely to take risks and hence force more eager to engage in competitions, which enhance their confidence — not necessarily in competing with others but certainly in terms of becoming less timid in front of people. However, my question is, is males proclivity toward risk-taking by nature or by nurture (evolutionary development, culture)?

    Category 2:

    My group Social Proof was planning on incorporating the Greek Initiative’s findings into our readings. But we don’t have enough space for that anymore. I am glad the gender group is doing this! The report says that “Greeks are more likely to believe that Greek culture makes them feel confident. However, only 30% of Greek females compared to 66% of Greek males agree that Greek culture makes them feel confident. This difference between male and female Greeks is statistically significant.” After earlier readings, I wonder if it is a result of male tendency toward bonding with in-group mates that helps boost their self-confidence, as opposed to the structures of sororities that create girl tensions.

    Is there anyway we could change the structure so that girls in group together can become more confident?

    Category 3:

    As a feminist, I applaud Slaughter’s honesty. But just as Darwin, being a Christian, refused to publish her work on the origins of species until after his death, understanding all too well the danger his work posed for Christianity, Slaughter’s article only further endangers the position of power for women. It makes them question their ability to “have it all”, and challenges them to re-think about the prioritizations they have decided for themselves. Does it mean that, since today we still live in a world where women in the workplace is a minority, we should considering from individual’s benefits, stop striving hard and going back home and caring for the family instead? This question, has to be taken seriously.

    I want to ask Cathy how she balances her professional life with her personal family life. I would also like to know whether there are times instead of the two being a conflict, one could actually complement the other.

    • I find the question you posed about whether women simply don’t have as high of self esteem after their stint in Greek life because of the ease at which women bond interesting. In the salon article, it mentions that women who are surrounded by smarter peers do better in school, whereas men surrounded by smarter peers become discouraged and do poorly. This was very interesting to me. Perhaps women would thrive better in groups based on academics, rather than purely social groups, because of the way they compete.

    • Ahh, I always think these responses are due at midnight, not 2PM on Sunday.

      Hopefully, you guys will still be able to count it/take it into consideration.

      It’s interesting that women positively influence each other academically, but as zanpanda pointed out, if they are competing with each other socially, there will be a hierarchy that only focuses on looks, status, and other friends. I think this is a large part of why Greek women are not as confident. Also, I think the Greek fraternity system encourages men to treat women poorly. I have heard multiple times that frat guys are nice by themselves, but when they get together, it’s overwhelming and a show of who is the ‘bro-est’

      Mo’s question on risk-taking behavior also is interesting. Is there a gene that makes someone more or less risk averse or is it the environment? I would side towards the side of nurture.

      Lastly, in response to Dr. Davidson’s question, I agree that it is more difficult for women to balance work and life, but I think sometimes Slaughter and Sandberg are a bit of an extreme as very busy women.
      In America, we rarely give maternity leave or very little. This chart shows how different countries give more leave for maternity/children:

      I think one step America can take towards making a more equitable work force is to increase maternity leave. I am wondering what our guest and Dr. Ariely thinks on this issue.

  23. Category 1:

    I found very interesting Niederle and Vesterlund’s experiment regarding men and women’s preference for competition. Personally, I think one of the main reasons women are inclined to stir away form competition is because of how society views competitive women. Competitive women are usually labeled as manly and ‘butchy’ because they have to strip from their feminine aspects to be taken as serious competition against men. Also competitive women are not influential but manipulative, when they voice their concerns they are being unreasonable instead of logical, and when they pursue their goals they are not ambitious but pushy. All positive attributes a competitive person has are considered male attributes; therefore when I woman exhibits them they need to be switch to female ones, mostly negative ones. Therefore, many women sheer away from competition to avoid such labels.

    Babcock et al.’s study on the demand of wages is very insightful; however, when it comes to the suggestions they give to managers there are some that seem unfeasible given that they would be costly to employers. For a profit seeking company it does not seem rational that they would invest resources in mentoring women to negotiate their salaries or giving women a raise when their male counterpart demands one; it is much cheaper to keep their women employees at lower salaries and not teach them to demand more. Sure, it would be the ethical thing to do but in corporate mentality being profitable trumps being ethical. Therefore I do not see an incentive for companies to institute such measures; except for their top female employees that they consider valuable enough that they will ensure they don’t feel discriminated against (find out their male counterparts are earning more) and get the compensation necessary to stay in the company.

    Question for professors:
    According to Niederle and Vesterlund when thinking of engaging in future competition women anticipate a psychic cost while when a psychic benefit, why does this difference arise??

    Category 2:

    As a woman at Duke I have to say there are a lot of things I wished I had known as an underclassman, and I have to point out that I really applaud the women who wrote the chronicle article and I hope women underclassmen take it seriously. I have to say I have barely felt respected by my fellow male classmates or felt that I have met the standards of what a typical Duke girl is. Probably the nicest compliment I have ever gotten at Duke (I am a senior by the way) is the following, “I don’t understand how you have big boobs and a small waist”. My sophomore year I found out that a group of my guy friends called me ‘that ass’ whenever they referred to me, and some proceeded to shout it at me when they were drunk on the C1. I have been called many other things and have seen the horrors of Duke Student’s Conduct approach regarding sexual assault cases, which I will not include in this blog post.

    Question for professors: Why is it that Duke University administration and student body seem to have a disregard

    Category 3:

    Thank you for assigning Slaughter’s article, finally someone who sees things in perspective. My favorite point in her article is that the standard set for women sets up most women for a sense of failure. There are these amazing women who have accomplished so much and are, as Slaughter names them, superwomen. However, society has not only taken them as role models but also has set the bar for professional women just below them. Because these few exceptional women managed to have it all now there is this idea that, if she managed to do it so can any other woman who sets her mind to it and works hard. Not all professional women are able to mange the time and energy commitment, and since they do not achieve these high levels they get discouraged and feel their accomplishments are meaningless since they did not reach this ridiculously high bar. This is also reinforced with the American ideal that success’s main component is working hard; it is basically all you need for success. This idea completely disregards the fact that context exists, these women did not climb up the latter on their own they were aided by the context they grew up and lived in. You can have the intelligence and the will to succeed but if you don’t have the financial support or emotional support your chances of success are diminished exponentially. I agree these superwomen should be role models but they should not set the bar for what it means to be a successful professional woman. The idea that success if being the Sheryl Sandberg of your industry is ludicrous, and leaves the impression that achieving everything less than that is failure.

    Question for professors: What do you think are the contextual elements and personality elements that enabled these superwomen as Slaughter names them achieve such success?

  24. Category 1: Social Science

    I have to admit, I did not expect to learn much of personal significance from the readings this week. Perhaps I would appreciate feminism in a new light, or learn some startling statistics about women in positions of power, or better empathize with other women who have not been afforded the opportunities I’ve had in my academic career. Indeed, the readings did change the way I think about gender and success in those theoretical and emotional ways. What I did not expect was to change on a personal level. Ostensibly, the topic of gender and success would seem relevant to me as a woman entering the workforce after I graduate this spring. But I thought I was already doing it right. I have never felt held back from success by my gender, I have always been driven to perform at my personal best, and when I received an offer for my dream job in a cognitive neuroimaging lab, I was thrilled.

    So, what could I have to learn about being a better (female) professional? It turns out, quite a lot. The readings this week opened my eyes to all the subtle ways that I have been “leaning back” in my academic career—and to the reasons why my gender cannot be coincidental to this tendency. I shied away from competitive sports in high school, opting for any and all the non-competitive sports available, including cheerleading, track, and tennis. I noticed this trend early on, but reasoned with myself that it was because I preferred to compete against myself rather than others. At Duke, I selected a research position that took me out of the lab with other ambitious undergraduates and instead, on my own to lead a more independent meta-analysis project. After reading Niederle & Vesterlund (2007), I now wonder whether this pattern is due to psychological factors that typically hold females back from competing: a lack of confidence that I could out-compete others, or an aversion to the risks of competition. Likewise, when I recently accepted my job offer, I did not for a hot second think about whether I should negotiate the salary. I was grateful for the job, and I even pride myself on pursuing my passions without concern for the money it will make me. However, after reading Babcock et al. (2003), I am rather shocked by my (lack of) behavior—if the majority of men negotiate their salaries, why didn’t I? And more troubling to think about, why do I still feel reluctant to do so?

    In retrospect, I should have known better than to expect not to be surprised by this class.

    Perhaps I now see the role of gender in my life so vividly not because I have been enlightened by the readings, but rather, because I have been subjected to a sort of reverse attention blindness. All I can see is gender in my pattern of professional decision-making, as if all the basketballs suddenly turned into gorillas. But perhaps I see gender everywhere because it truly is a pervasive force in my life—I cannot set aside my gender identity when I enter the classroom or the lab any more than I could grow sixteen inches and biceps if I stepped onto a basketball court. Before sitting down with the readings this week, I regarded gender differently than I regarded race, as something better ignored than owned. But now I see that gender consciousness is crucial for my professional success and personal wellbeing, if only to avoid making decisions as a result of its so often undetectable influence.

    Do you believe that gender blindness or gender consciousness is a better approach to solving the problems that women face in the workforce?

    Category 2: Literature

    Girls is one of those shows that I feel like everyone is watching but me, so I did not mind doling out the $1.99 to jump on the party boat. Although I was initially repulsed by Lena—how could she so shamelessly rely on money from her parents?—I soon realized that she is the sort of person I might have become if it weren’t for the way that our society is structured.

    As an English major and a constant scrawler and a devotee of all things poetry, I had seriously considered becoming a writer. Instead, I took the practical pre-medical track. The obvious reason for this decision is that I want to be able to support myself, and doctors make more money than writers. But it was more than the money that motivated my choice—I would like to invest myself in a line of work that is appreciated by society. Scrolling through the popular shows on Hulu, from Grey’s Anatomy to Mob Doctor to General Hospital, it becomes clear that America is fascinated by the medical profession. Writers—not so much.

    It is not necessarily Lena’s fault that she relies on her parents for money. If writers were well paid, she might have found a paid internship position, and she could expect to fully support herself as soon as her (presumably well-written) book hit the shelves. Given the context in which I watched the episode, I am compelled to ask: Is there a connection between being a writer and being a woman? It is interesting to note that both of the interns in her office were young girls. Perhaps there is not a general connection between writing and the female gender, but rather, a connection between being a woman and struggling to make it in the writing world. Wherever Lena turned, she failed to obtain respect from others for her book. Her boss refused her a raise, and then refused to read the book since he no longer had an intern to do so! Even her own parents had to be strong-armed into picking up the manuscript. So, it seems that Lena and all female writers face two problems: (1) they have chosen a profession in which it is particularly difficult to gain respect, and (2) they face additional difficulty gaining respect because they are women.

    What should women do if they find themselves in professions that are underappreciated by society (often due to the historical dominance of men)? Is it better to choose the practical profession, or to chase your dreams and hope society will come around?

    Category 3: Leaning In

    Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter have been pitted against one another in the debate over how women should continue to make progress in the professional sphere. (Whether their competition is male or female in style, I’ll let you be the judge.) On the one hand, Sheryl Sandberg empowers women by encouraging them to “lean in,” raise their hands, take risks, and pursue their outrageous ambitions. But Nicholas Kristoff rightly points out that this can be seen as blaming the victim—women haven’t risen to the top yet because they haven’t fought hard enough—when the reality is that society has created many challenges for them. On the other hand, Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that women “still can’t have it all” because society has not yet acknowledged the importance of family in a woman’s life. This idea has also been met with backlash from women who do not desire children, and from those who say that “it all” is an impossible standard for men as well as women.

    Personally, I identify with both Sandberg and Slaughter in different ways. What I like about Sandberg’s message is that it gives me something I can do now and every day—speak up and make my voice heard in the classroom and the lab, in conversations on the street and with my friends. What I like about Slaughter’s message is that it frees me from the pressure to be a professional woman all the time—if I choose to have a family someday, it will not make me any less of a feminist. Ultimately, I am honored and grateful to sit on the shoulders of both these powerful women.

    Do you identify more strongly with Sheryl Sandberg’s mantra that women must “lean in” or with Anne-Marie Slaughter’s stance that women must find balance in their lives? Who would you follow in the onward march to the widespread professional success of women?

    • I think your point about having a reverse attention blindness to your gender is very interesting. I have to admit that in retrospect I also realize that a lot of my past decisions were partly influenced by my over-awareness of my gender and how it is perceived in the society that I was living in, a confused European/Middle Eastern developing country. I feel that my over-awareness caused me to be indignant to the values of my society and pushed me to do whatever I can to challenge these values instead of feeling that I had to abide by them. I was suggested many times by people around me that I could just pursue an easy degree, study something relatively simple, have a ‘feminine profession’ and have a comfortable life. But as a person from the same society I could read between the lines in all of these suggestions, that since I was just going to get married with a man that would earn the bulk of the money at home and take care of the family, I could just have a nice little profession just to keep me busy. SO many assumptions there, but I won’t go into detail. Looking back, I do see my own flaw in thinking that my refusal to some of the suggested professions were not only because I didn’t want to do these, but because they seemed easier and more culturally submissive than what I had in mind. So I cannot help but question which of my decisions were purely me, and which ones were a result of my stubbornness to do better than what my society thinks that I can do. On the other hand, maybe they are just the same thing.

  25. The Neaderle article nicely contextualizes Sheryl Sandberg’s plea for women to ‘lean in’. While women may be equally qualified candidates, we take ourselves out of the running far too often. My own parents make on-going attempts to dissuade me from entering the business world fearing my inability to survive in the corporate shark tank.
    The article brings to mind the 2008 election that pitted two women whose public personas epitomized two over-wrought female archetypes that who epitomized two over-wrought stereotypes that could explain why : Clinton, the ruthless, ambitious albeit extremely capable, feminist candidate versus Palin, the sexualized, ditzy, woman. In fact Clinton seemed to gain the most public support when she publically cried, showing for the first time her “feminine” side. It seems for women, we’re constantly battling extremes: ambition versus stupidity, sexy versus family-oriented. Striking middle ground is where we struggle.
    It’s possible that women take themselves out of the running because in many ways, we still have to make a choice between career and family. Sandburg’s confession of constantly feeling guilty for working comes in the midst two other controversial statements- Yahoo! CEO’s Marissa Mayer declaring that she would work through her maternity leave and recalling employees who worked out of the office and former Lehman Brothers’ CFO Erin Cahllan expressing regret over letting her career come at the price of family.
    Ask any female student at Duke what their 10 year plan, and most will include frame their career ambitions around plans to get married and have a family. On the other hand most men, I’ve talked to don’t pre-maturely calculate the bearing of family and love life into their future career trajectories.
    It’s also possible that from a young age, women subconsciously accept the notion our survival and social status is somewhat contingent on the success of our mates. Men work hard to ensure their own survival while women choose to work hard, for us-, it seems that having successful careers is an option not a necessity. Unlike men, success in the work field does little to elevate our profiles, dating or otherwise.
    For Prof. Davidson: Do you feel that you’ve had to personally make certain sacrifices or deal with career setbacks because of your gender?
    Do you think gender blindness or gender consciousness is the better approach to address gender inequalities in the workplace?
    I had the same initial take on Girls as I did on Duke feminism campaigns. I’m a feminist but I come from that part of the world where gender issues are less about having to wear makeup to the gym and more about acid attacks, forced child marriages, and institutionalized rape. So when I first came to Duke of saw Girls and witnessed privilege, I wanted to tell my peers that feeling nervous when you see a ‘Durhamite’ at night doesn’t count as a real problem. And if 20 year old boys are jerks and chauvinistic, it’s because they’re well… 20 year old boys. After all women in America get to careers, can live independently, and have sex with whoever they want to. But over my time at Duke, I’ve been horrified by the number of my close friends subjected to sexual violence on this campus and equally stunned by some of the responses they’ve received from both their peers and the Duke administration. I’ve encountered perceptions and violence that I wouldn’t have fathomed would exist even within privilege. And I wonder if this culture is partly due to the fact that Duke female students are ambitious. We choose causal hook-ups over relationships that we have less time and patience for at this point in our life. And while sexual liberation is a step forward, I wonder if in practice the resulting perception of women induces greater incidence of sexual assault, more instances of “she was asking for it” cases in other words.
    Question: Do you believe sexual liberation leads to greater or less cases of gender violence?

  26. Men are quicker to bond with teammates; women are more willing to befriend competitors. Women are less rattled by being ranked, but men are overconfident in their abilities. I thought this was particularly interesting because of my own exposure to the idea of the imposter syndrome. This is the idea that others will find out that you actually have no idea what you’re doing.
    I think this idea of whether something is daring or foolish is definitely relevant. Many of the most successful people of our generation would be considered foolish by a good population of people. Is it advantageous to be foolish? Does not being foolish place us at a disadvantage in our society. Some things are less easily calculated, so by this reasoning, we can not truly extrapolate the risk, or the reward.
    So, I don’t want to comment too much on this, except to address the idea that sampling issues. If anything, I think more girls on campus have been sexually assaulted than a survey can ever report. If we consider the fact that rape culture often precludes women from being aware of their own rights (because certain things that our society considers acceptable (a lack of enthusiastic consent, for example) are actually unacceptable) then most likely even more women are being sexually assaulted. Secondly, I think that. I think this article is very interesting, but I’m wondering about how this affects the idea of female success… Not in a “what’s the point of this” sort of way, but in terms of making connections. How does the fact that women at Duke often lose confidence and self-esteem during the course of their education affect their chances of success? Their ability to take risks?
    I found it really interesting the response that Anne-Marie got when she wanted to speak her mind. It’s really interesting that Sheryl got similar comments, but for a different reason. Anne-Marie is told not to speak her mind because she will alienate women and send a horrible signal to them. Sheryl is told the same thing, but because they feel like she is not in a position to give advice because she has had much higher advantages than other women. Either way, both women have very different opinions. I’m not sure who I agree with, but I’d love to see how the professors feel about this. Can women have it all? Should we want it all? And why is it never a question for men? Perhaps we can’t have it all, because we never try?

  27. Hi everyone, I see that several of you have asked me direct questions. I answered above, to the first question asked me, and then ended up going on at some length about other issues that turn out to be asked in other blog posts too. Please read my rather lengthy comment above. I’m very sorry I have to miss this class. Perhaps next week, after the formal interview, we can have a brief Q and A where you can feel free to ask me follow-up questions. Best, Cathy Davidson

  28. p.s. On Twitter, my friend Ian Bogost, the theorist and game designer, has been tweeting quotes from a provocative and smart review of Lean In by a former Facebook employee, Kate Losse: Check it out!

  29. Dear Gender and Success group, did you see this recent study of the Matilde Effect—change the gender of an author of a scientific paper, and readers rate it higher (if it is male) and lower (if female) with only the change in the author’s name being altered.

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