December 2, 2010

"Women follow rules better than men do, so the women do better in school."

"But, there is no correlation between doing well in school and doing well in adult life. And there might be a reverse correlation, because school is about doing what you’re told, but strong performers in business make their own rules. Maybe this is why most big law firms have no women in their top 10 rainmakers. This is because it’s an ill-defined, outside-the-rules-of-what-you-learn-in-law-school kind of job. But these are the people who make the money and have the flexibility to have a lifestyle they want outside of work—one not so hours-bound. So for women to really get the kind of workplace they want – flexible, responsive, and engaging, the women are going to need to break some rules."

Says Penelope Trunk, who advises men to encourage women to break the rules, assuming men want to make work better for women... in which case they should also display their forearms... because women like to look at men's forearms. Wait! Forearms? Rule-breaking? I'm picturing intra-office sexual affairs. That might make going to work incredibly exciting, but it makes work much more difficult.

But forearms aside, I do think Trunk is right about women, rules, school, and work.


Synova said...


This is undoubtedly one of the ways that David Weber feels the military is "feminine."


Sigivald said...

"Strong performers in business" (top excutives?) and "big law firms' top 10s" are not exactly indicative of most of "adult life" anyway.

Not everyone is an executive or legal stress-puppy, after all.

Bender said...

Ah, yes, modern feminism at work -- the only real woman is the one who rejects her womanhood, the only good woman is one who acts like a man.

JAL said...

Not to disparage Penelope, or maybe to enhance her observations, she is Asperger's and has a way of summing things up which is -- different.

Hagar said...

In engineering practice, I have found that it generally does no good to suggest to a woman engineer that she should modify the design she is working on in such and such a manner in order to end up with a better and cheaper plan; if it's worth the trouble for me, I need to somehow get to her boss and convince him to tell her.

campy said...

I have found that it generally does no good to suggest to a woman engineer that she should modify the design she is working on in such and such a manner

If your forearms were better they'd listen.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose women should break the rules by encouraging men to break the rules against bantering about or propositioning sex in the workplace?

(Sheesh, there's a lot of layers of rules these days.)

rhhardin said...

Forehanded is forearmed.

paul a'barge said...

Is that your forearm? Ohhh, I'm so confused. I thought it was your, well you know, your ... oh, never mind.

jungatheart said...

Conversely, Hagar, you could make her think the change is her idea.

What ever happened between Penelope and The Farmer? Details, I want details!

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that there is something to this, esp. that one reason that women do better in school is that they follow rules better.

Reminds me a long ago when my daughter and I would play games. We were supposed to alternate making rules. She would make one, then I would, and mine would be: I win. She thought that was cheating. I didn't see it that way, but rather just stretching the rules a bit.

There is a lot that goes into good rainmaking. I say this as someone who is horrible at it, but luckily have a lot of attorneys in my firm who are good at it. So, I don't starve, and they make a lot of money. And, yes, most are men. But not all.

Partly, I think that it is generational. We have some up and coming women lawyers who are very aggressive and do this sort of thing well. They, along with some of our younger female partners, are going to, I suspect, show that this stereotype is false.

BUT, in a lot of business, including law, there are real reasons why men have traditionally done well, and much of it has to do with work ethic. The men have traditionally been more willing to work 80 hours a week when they are associates, and then 60 hours a week thereafter than their women colleagues. And, they don't tend to drop out or work part time for awhile to raise families. Over the decades, this difference in work habits ends up advantaging the men.

Getting back to following rules. It isn't that men ignore the rules, but rather, that the successful ones learn when and how they can bend or break them. With females, it seems like the spirit of the rule is what is important. With males, it is the letter. And, where in middle school a girl might get ostracized for doing what I did above, a boy will more likely get rewarded by his peers.

Moose said...

Good god. Everytime I turn around I see men being told to encourage women. What are you people? A bunch of 'tards?

yes said...

What ever happened between Penelope and The Farmer? Details, I want details!

Read her blog! But the last time I checked they had gotten sort-of married.

("Sort of" because she didn't want to saddle him with her large tax liabilities. For someone who makes a job of giving other people advice on how to live, she's not exactly a role-model.)

There was video too. The Farmer looked way more urban white-collar than I expected.

wv: grate
yeah, a real word!

Unknown said...

Are we sure about this?

Often, thinking for yourself gets you ahead more than following the playbook.

I mean, given how boys are discouraged and denigrated and girls get a lot of affirmative action goodies, is it really that way or has the deck been stacked?

(insert pun)

yes said...

I have to thank Ann for leading me to both Penelope Trunk and The Sartorialist.

I have mixed feelings about Penelope. I think she milks her Aspergersness for way more than it's worth. A lot of her advice sucks. Sometimes reading her blog is like watching a trainwreck, and not a unique enough one to make it instructive or deeply entertaining. Her comment threads are full of people lauding her for being so "honest" as if that is worth something in itself. But I kinda like her anyway.

jungatheart said...

How do you get sort-of married? What bunk.

jungatheart said...


Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Testosterone, it seems, is the molecule of risk. There are upsides and downsides to that fact.

There are justifiably smart ways to break (or bend) rules and then there are utterly idiotic ways to go about doing that.

I don't think that encouraging women to go against their conservative nature makes the most sense - and I say this after years of observing a vast majority of women who just plain don't know how to go about taking the risks that, due to upbringing and probably genetics, I always found it natural to take, regardless of gender. And so I've come to the conclusion that it's more important to encourage people to accept what they can about themselves, and for others to try to be open and accommodating to that.

Setting out to change the world just because you feel the need to prove an egotistical point is a much tougher row to hoe than daring people to change what works for you personally.

Hagar said...


No good. The point is that she thinks she is doing what she has been told to do and is cooperating to the best of her ability, she is not interested in any changes, and is certainly not going to propose any herself..

Charlie Martin said...

But if you're encouraged to break the rules, wouldn't you then be breaking the rules by not breaking the rules?

jungatheart said...

Hagar, are you a 'lateral' superior or an equal? If equal, are you going over her head and finessing the system? Should this be done up-front...her hurting feelings, and all the rest, be damned? Thus putting the Boss in the position of making a call?

The Crack Emcee said...

"Women follow rules better than men do, so the women do better in school."

Yea, but there's less innovation, and who wants that? I've received tons of good grades in school precisely because I thought "this is stupid" and broke the rules, impressing the teacher.

As far as telling women how to do it, I used to think "Hell, yeah" but, now, that should be determined by who the woman is. The idea that men should indescriminantly assist women in besting them is bullshit, when most women are playing for keeps with society (through unfair laws) assisting them. Bury their shapely asses because A) it's the ruthless take-no-prisoners world their sex has unleashed on men, and B) if they gotta learn then they gotta learn for real.

As I've said before, one of the most beautiful moments of my divorce was when her lawyer said, "Your Honor, we didn't think he'd fight like this" and I looked across the table, as though to say "Fool, you may have taken me by surprise, but did you forget who you're playing with?" and all I saw was fear and tears. That's how men have to deal today to re-right their ship - as a matter of course - not after some bitch finally reveals their actions and motives. That reaquaintance with men's ruthlessness, not just our capacity for kindness, should once again define who we are, going forward, stopping just short of forcing this entire ass-backwards society to scream "uncle".

We ain't barbarians, after all.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Bury their shapely asses

Jesus, Crack. Did you have a big sister who spent her childhood sitting on you or something? Does she remind you of Oprah?

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't think that encouraging women to go against their conservative nature makes the most sense - and I say this after years of observing a vast majority of women who just plain don't know how to go about taking the risks that, due to upbringing and probably genetics, I always found it natural to take, regardless of gender.

"Regardless of gender"? I caught that - and decided not to mention it - only to have you then reveal yourself as a little bitch.

Jesus, Ritmo, you're offensive.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

When your sister sat on you did she cut off the supply of oxygen to your brain?

What do the decidedly more courageous men and women of my own family have to do with the less courageous women that you, along with most other whiny little men, are more familiar with?

No wonder you hate the idea of therapy so much. No amount of it will cure you of your thought disorder.

The Crack Emcee said...

No wonder you hate the idea of therapy so much. No amount of it will cure you of your thought disorder.

Precisely - and that's a strength - but your punk ass wouldn't know much about strength.

Now back off before I fart in your face.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

And you should really consider changing your avatar. It kind of looks like a disgruntled teddy bear of a guy pulling up to place his order at a Wendy's Drive-Thru window.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Re-Animated said...

You only consider your thought disorder a strength because you're too stupid to realize how much it holds you back.

Either your problem is with thinking or it's with reading and writing. Who told you that illiteracy was a cool thing, Crack? The crackers who swarm here? Listening to them will stunt your growth and give you scabies.

Crack, don't be so wack.

JAL said...

deborah -srsly - go read the blog and fish around to see where they sort of got married.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Now this is the type of gal a farmer should marry.

Besides, her writing's much better.

Hagar said...

This will be lengthy, but for an example of what I am talking about.

Some years ago, John, a young engineer in a firm I had previously worked for, was designing a stormsewer, a sanitary sewer, and a watermain crossing the upper end of a flood control reservoir, where the agency in charge also was intending some remedial work and had hired a consultant for the design work. There also was a development planned for the opposite bank with another consultant preparing those plans.
John was aching some about how complicated and difficult it all was, so I looked at it and said that well, if the agency would modify its proposed construction just a little, that would really make it cheaper for them and ever so much easier for both of the private developments.
So a meeting with the agency head and the two consultants was scheduled to discuss this proposal. I went along with John for moral support, and also present was the other consultant's designer, a young woman, and the agency's consultant's designer, another young woman.
So, John laid out his preliminary drawings and began explaining what we were proposing. The agency head immediately saw the advantages and kind of took over, enthusisatically proposing even greater (and better) changes than we had asked for.
The young women, however, as soon as it became apparent that changes were being proposed, totally lost interest and began nattering between themselves as women do to socialize.
Well, the meeting broke up with handshakes and smiles all around, but on the road back home I told John, "You realize, don't you, that nothing is going to come from this meeting?" "Why! What do you mean?" "Well John, Jim (agency head) thinks he has spoken, but his words were not heard. Neither of these women are going to tell their superiors that Jim wants these changes, and you can't very well call him back and tell him he needs to repeat himself to their bosses, so - nothing is going to happen."
And that is exactly what did - or rather, did not - happen.

The Crack Emcee said...

you should really consider changing your avatar.

Ha! - says the lame '60s holdover with his fist in the air! I got news for you, buddy:

You lost!

Not to mention, I'll stake my reputation on this blog against yours, any day. You probably hold the record for being told how full of shit you are - I may not have your vocab but I caught that much!

Crack, don't be so wack.

Anyone who would consider taking advice from you, as often as you've been proven wrong - which you always try to cover up by delivering those long, boring asinine lectures that only reinforce how stupid you look - would be insane.

Ritmo, after all I've seen, I accept that I may be a crippled man, and I may not have your gift of gab, but, as Ben Franklin said - by opening your mouth - you've made it pretty clear who the bigger fool is between us.

The Crack Emcee said...

Oh, and one more thing:

Whatever I am today, I know why, and even have an interesting story to go with it:

You're just you.

Wince said...

in which case they should also display their forearms... because women like to look at men's forearms.

Who's the mumbling sailor that's a sex machine to all the chicks?


Ya damn right.

KCFleming said...

Women are the best bureaucrats.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

So the problem is school, not women.

somefeller said...

As a rule, people who talk a lot about how they are all about breaking the rules are the least creative or interesting people you'll find. Sort of the Michael Scott/Dunder Mifflin effect. Something tells me that's the case with Ms. Trunk, even if she manages to stumble on a few truths every now and then. Maybe next she can illustrate her ideas with a PowerPoint presentation about thinking outside the box.

jungatheart said...

JAL, will do...sounds like an interesting soap opera type tale...ahhhh! ;)

Hagar, thanks for the insight, point taken.

Crack, you want fries with that? :)

jungatheart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jungatheart said...

crack, you can thank me later

Anonymous said...

"Testosterone, it seems, is the molecule of risk"

Deep man, deep. Do you write for Newseek?

Perhaps men and women are different? Nah, you've got this one buddy.

Perhaps we're changing society dramatically, for better or worse...and the least we can ask is that the drivers of change appeal to our reason...and not public sentiment, political thuggery, and pablum...?

Such depth reminds me of Hall & Oates, as they highlighted the selfish and predatory type of woman who will abuse the innocence of a man...

Actually, upon reflection, the below song is much deeper than what you've just said, and they also edited their expression for the sake of others:

jungatheart said...

Crackster, I was just kidding. That's a nice pic of you and always reminded me of Shaft.

rcocean said...

The "Caine Mutiny" stated the US Navy was "Designed by Geniuses to be run by idiots" and that also describes most Bureaucracies.

Which is why women excel at applying and executing rules/regulations and not making them.

BTW, is anyone going to be teaching the deep legal thinking of Grandma O'Conner or the wise latina or Ruth Buzzy 50 years from now? I doubt it. Scalia maybe. Beyer Maybe. But the women SCOTUS judges? No. Of course, the same applies to most of the Male judges.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Here ya go, dipshit! Edit this:

Chris navin's lack of any knowledge of molecular biology is deep enough to fill the hole in his head.

You're welcome!

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Whatever I am today, I know why, and even have an interesting story to go with it.

The moral of this interesting story is that Crack is what happens when a random bum masturbated into the wrong hole on the wrong person and didn't pull out in time.

Ladies, don't let "Crack" happen to you. He will resent your entire gender because of it, and crank out barely legible scribblings on the bathroom wall of society as a way to rave on about it. He will be so delusional as to believe that this constitutes a "respectable" enterprise.

You're welcome!

P.S. I know facts aren't your forte, you little penis-hole of a person, but the avatar is from the 1980s - you know, Ronald Reagan's decade?

I guess that we can add cinematography to the long list of things about which you don't know jack shit!

And by the way, no you can't have fries with that!

The drive-through is closed, Crack. Go on cruising elsewhere or go home.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

From the man who cares about appearances and reputations on unimportant blogs:

Anyone who would consider taking advice from you, as often as you've been proven wrong - which you always try to cover up by delivering those long, boring asinine lectures that only reinforce how stupid you look - would be insane.

From Richard Feynman:

If you want to know the way nature works, we looked at it, carefully, that's the way nature works! You don't like it? Go somewhere else, to another universe. Where the rules are simpler. Philosophically more pleasing. More psychologically easy.

Sounds like a critique of conservatism.

But Richard! Quantum mechanics is long and boring!!! And what about its reputation!!?! It's all just theoretical!!!

MadisonMan said...

If breaking the rules is encouraged and becomes the norm, then women will just be following the rules by breaking them. And since they're good at following rules, they'll exceed output done by men.

Moose said...

Camille Paglia: "If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."

Johanna Lapp said...

Boys have been taught to play through the pain for centuries.

But when a girl is filmed crawling across a finish line, the mommy culture immediately wants to make new rules to deny her that choice.

Jessica said...

Trunk thinks these "rule breaker" law partners have lives outside work? Common misconception. I am an associate working for one of the top 3 partners at a Vault top-20 firm. He has no free time. He works ALL the time. More than me. I don't know where Trunk gets her information from.

Steve said...

"Women follow rules better than men do, so the women do better in school."

Just for thought, what if women follow rules better as a survival strategy? If you are physically smaller and weaker, you have to rely on societal protections (i.e. rules) in order to survive and prosper. otherwise, it's nature red of tooth and claw.
But their following the rules isn't enough, you have to make sure that everyone else follows the rules as well. That is where the Democrat Party comes from.

Mimi said...

Hagar, your story about the two young women consultants sounds like a tale of a) youth and b) two women who did not have a stake in the bottom line.

If the same scenario had happened with a mature woman and/or a woman who had a stake in or responsibility for the bottom line, the outcome may have been different.

I sure as hell know I would not have attended a key meeting and 'nattered', much less not pushed for important changes. Please don't pin that on my gender. (vomits a little bit in mouth).

Just sayin.

Btw, enjoying the food-fight between 'crack the misogynist' and 'big gov't insult as recreation' - they sound like two lovers who need a battle to get them going so that they can then have great make-up sex....

Milwaukee said...

Men have done a great deal to help women. I don't see much help coming back to men. Men have helped get more women into college, and now colleges complain their are too many women. Were the rules that kept women out of veterinary school arbitrary? Perhaps. But we face a huge shortage of large-animal vets, and that is threatening our food supply. Women vets tend to be "personal companion vets", and don't take care of live stock. Women don't want to get up at 2 in the morning during a blizzard because some heifer is having a breach delivery, and they need to stick their arm up to their armpit into that cow to turn the calf around. Likewise, dentists: make dentists, over their career, work many more hours than their female counterparts. (For whatever reasons. Whatever. Men can't have children, and society needs children. That's where adults come from.) If we don't up the output of our dental schools, we will be short dentists.

We need to value what women contribute to society and families as mothers and wives which is a great deal. By constantly shackling men so women can catchup we injure both.

Hagar said...

Nope. For these young women the agency head was just out of line talking to them about making changes when the rules say that their supervisors will tell them what to do and how. So, they went to "nattering," something about their handbags, if I remember right.

Heard about another one just today. The lady reviewing drainage report for a small town here abouts rejected a proposed scheme that she freely admitted would be in the town's best interest to accept, because it did not entirely comply with the town's drainage policy as adopted.

Of course, sometimes the trait is beneficial. I know at least one construction superintendent who loved having women labor, because he could show them how to do something, go off to tend to some other business, and when he got back hours later, they would still be doing the task just as he had shown them how to do it, while with male labor, if he turned his back on them for 15 minutes, someone would think of some other way, and usually not to his liking.

Jum said...

At the risk of arousing the pitchfork-and-torch brigade, I'm not so sure that "making work better for women" is such a bunnies 'n rainbows idea. Or at least not necessarily a big win-win. The reason? The possibility that institutionalized gender-based affirmative action is at work.

I'm sorry, but the end of the days of the glass ceiling throughout America are in clear sight. In corporate America, the last bastion of the all-male team, it's obvious that women CEOs are the coming thing - trendy even. In academe we're seeing the last generation in which a majority of department heads are male. In government, particularly judgeships, women took the whip hand years ago, as we see more and more departments at all levels of government headed or managed by women.

Gender in the workplace is a teeter-totter: for women to prosper, men must necessarily lose. And we've seen this in countless little and not-so-little ways. For a decade now we've been in the Gender Retribution phase of social progress, in which so often a finger or maybe even an arm is placed on the scale when weighing up what a woman deserves. The tie has gone to the women for at least 10 years. You doubt what I say? I give you three words: sexual harassment claims.

What I'm saying is that we have many years yet to endure the social engineering aspect of equality-seeking for women. So let's not give another benefit to women as a class.

That said, I know big law firms are not moving at the same speed as the rest of society on this issue. But there are reasons for that, and a lot of them are pretty good I think. But no room here to discuss that.

I'm done now. You may apply the tar and feathers.

orbicularioculi said...

Leaders don't follow rules, they use rules when it makes sense and break them it makes sense. That's why they're leaders and not followers.

Men take chances!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am raising my fifth son and have been saying this for three decades.

Here's the mixed picture. Far more boys fail at school, and really, never recover from it. Yet for the others, going to school in a system stacked against them is ultimately and advantage. You learn that life isn't fair, and there's more than one way to skin a cat. Boys look for alternative methods of success.

Girls don't get enraged until later, when they find that they were lied to all those years about what the rules for success were. They played and succeeded, even dominated, and now find that the rules were never the rules.

Their usual responses: 1) go into fields where the myth of the old rules is perpetuated, like teaching, or 2) force other fields to play by the rules they've mastered (see also, credentialing).

Mimi said...

I used to carry around that Winston matchbook that said 'If I stopped raising hell, my dad would call me a quitter'

We ain't all like that, and my daughters sure as hell ain't

Eric said...

Boys have been taught to play through the pain for centuries.

But when a girl is filmed crawling across a finish line, the mommy culture immediately wants to make new rules to deny her that choice.

I dunno. People seem to find it pretty inspiring when those 13-year-old (girl) gymnasts break their ankles and then stick the next landing. More pain than I could bear.

Hagar said...

I have always told my people that we have to have rules so that we can tell what we are deviating from; otherwise it is just anarchy.

SarahW said...

Play through the pain is real enough, but women play through their own pains.

One of these is sabotage by peers. I suspect the anecdotes about getting to the woman's "boss" and having him recommend changes - she will act to please the boss even if it screws things up.

She will not want to make changes on the advice of a peer, which is a very risky business.

Hagar said...

When your client or the head of the reviewing agency wants something, you do it.

The proper thing here would have been to pay attention and take notes, and then when you get back to the office, tell your boss what happened and what you think about it, if anything. Your boss can then tell you to go ahead, or call the client to ask for a modification to the agreement, if the changes called for incurs extra costs outside the scope of your agreement.
What you do not do, is ignore the whole thing because the client did not follow "procedure."

Mimi said...

The behaviour you describe is calld being a nitwit (the justification is 'following procedure'). Nitwits exist across the male/female/trans-gender/indeterminate-gender spectrum. To say that being a nitwit is specifically female is bullshit.

Hagar said...

But this particular kind of nitwittedness is indeed female "specific."

Kind of like "woman driver." (And I am aware that Danica Patrick is a women and a driver, but she is not a "woman driver."

Also note that the female comments to my comment here is all about how the women are being discriminated and conspired against; none deals with what happened to the construction projects. (All three ending up as government (that's us) owned public utilities, by the way.)

Mimi said...

I'm not going to flog the point to death, I think I have made my perspective clear.