The writer Janet Malcolm, concealing a shiv in her “interestingly plain” Eileen Fisher duds, paints Fisher as frustratingly meek, and her business style as passive aggressive. What’s the mildly enraging part? Fisher refers to this business approach as “feminine,” as if women leaders can’t be straightforward about their demands....Grose emphasizes the gender stereotyping (which includes joking that the male employees are all in the warehouse, as if everyone forgot, because it's against men, that sex discrimination is illegal). In addition to that, I find the religionish rituals creepy. It's awful — or maybe for some it's great — to have a job that feels like you're in a cult.
Malcolm sits in on a meeting at Fisher Headquarters (in my hipsturbia hometown, Irvington, New York), where the exclusively female workers speak in incomprehensible code about “facilitating leaders” and “delegation with transparency.” Then the meeting ends with the ringing of a bronze bell. “I ring a bell to remind us of timelessness,” one woman says. Then a gourd is passed around and each woman says something when she gets her hands on it, like, “I feel humbled and honored.”
This reminds me of some of the comments on yesterday's post about the "Lean In" circles. For example, Deirdre Mundy wrote (using some stereotypes that I am noting, not endorsing):
Actually, "women supporting other women" often just acts as a new iteration of the classic "gossipy office clique." It's why I prefer to work in mostly male environments. The men are happy if everyone does their job and goes home. The women want to make it all about supportive relationships and bonding and over-analyzing every social interaction.
So, if you're an introverted woman who just wants to do a good job and who has a life outside of work... these circles of 'leaning in' are positively Dante-esque.