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Post Is WAIS an Old Boys' Network?
Created by John Eipper on 11/30/17 5:00 AM

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Is WAIS an Old Boys' Network? (A. J. Cave, USA, 11/30/17 5:00 am)

Before moving to food, I want to focus on the gender issue a bit more. My intent was not to point fingers, but to point out that WAIS is public‎ forum, not a private chat room.

The big challenge with WAIS is not being an ol' boys' network, nor the age or gender of the WAISers, it is relevance. I like the idea of reading and contributing content that is unique, especially about the history and about the Middle East. That's WAIS's sweet spot. WAISers don't get paid to write, so there's no added commercial bias to keep advertisers happy. As an online journal, WAIS was among the pioneers, sort of a big shark in the ocean. Now that virtually everything and everyone is online, WAIS is more like a crocodile in a river (a nod to Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba). The star ranking of posts on the website is gimmicky, and since the threads are tied together manually, human error creeps in, especially in longer threads.

Now, the big challenge with bringing up gender anywhere is that the polite conversation quickly bifurcates into two threads: 1) a patronizing reassurance from enlightened men that they themselves are above such things (a general observation independent of WAISers); ‎and, 2) a more basic discussion about the gender roles (biology, and the like), on what God and nature had intended.

Realistically, gender equality is a global war we can't win--it has to happen organically bottom-up, or fail miserably when forced top-down. But gender parity at the workplace in the US is something we can reach for. My definition of gender parity is getting to a critical mass of women in all the verticals--roughly 25 to 33% of the workforce in every single entity we call "work."  Some more, some less. That's the only sustainable model (Malcolm Gladwell's tipping point) that would work. When people say "why now?", it is because all the factors that create that tipping point are coming together for the first time.

For that to happen, we will need massive data about women at work, which actually doesn't exist publicly. Who hires how many women and how much they are paid and how they are mentored and how far they are promoted, compared to the men, is what we are going to need to know--transparency. Some magazines, like Fortune, do their annual feel-good "women's" issues, but that's more infocommercial than informational.

What we do know is that workplace gender bias is real, sexual harassment is the norm (not the exception) in most verticals, and half of professional women leave corporate life midway through their careers (not to have kids, but because they are simply fed up). Corporate HR is actually a misnomer. It is really MR (M is for management). Most of what they used to do is now automated and outsourced. What little that remains is not to manage precious human assets, but to protect the management from pesky employees.

Even in the best-case scenario, women generally make 93 cents compare to a dollar men make. The average percentage breakdowns are more or less like this:

- White man: $1
- White ‎woman: 78 cents
- Black woman: 64 cents
- Hispanic woman: 54 cents
(no data breakdown for Asian women)

That said, I think it's also important to point out that "women" are not an undifferentiated mass of goodness or badass: neither all saints nor sinners--just people, like all men. It is not all apple pie and sisterhood. It would indeed be strange if it was all good in the 'hood.

I credit the president with a critical push toward this tipping point ("great reckoning"). As Gloria Steinem said (quoting someone else), "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, and you think it's a pig, it's a pig."

JE comments:  HR's primary mission is to protect management from litigation, but I have no data to back this up.  (I'm fond of jesting that Humanists don't need data.)

A. J. Cave speaks of a "tipping point" on gender issues.  Will 2017 be remembered as the year of the Comeuppance for Powerful, Harassing Males?  (The White House, so far, is immune.)  Two who've fallen this week:  Matt Lauer (ex-Today Show) and Garrison Keillor (ex-NPR). 

How long will the purges continue?  "As long as necessary" might be the answer.  What kind of new climate is being created in the workplace?  I can envision many men adopting the "Mike Pence Rule" of refusing to work one-on-one with any woman--not out of religious conviction like our Old Testament VP, but due to fear.

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