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Sharon Meers

Sharon Meers

Sharon Meers is co-author of Getting to 50/50: How working couples can have it all by sharing it all. A former managing director at Goldman Sachs, she now works in Silicon Valley.

Thick Skin, and more of it

New on my firm's trading floor, I was glad to know at least one person. Derek had been a year ahead of me in college and was now a junior T-Bill trader. One day, I walked up behind Derek's desk to ask a question. His head was turning from side to side checking the multiple screens in front of him. Suddenly, he shouted an expletive. They continued to erupt for the next several seconds. Derek's boss walked up, less worried about the money being lost than something else. "Derek, don't talk like that in front of a lady," he said. The boss was 30. I was stunned.

On trading floors, like navy ships, colorful speech is standard. I was accustomed to bad language: it was a vice I suffered too. Letting off steam with a few foul words came quite naturally to me and seemed harmless. Derek's boss didn't know that I, for good or ill, shared more with Rahm Emanuel than Scarlett O'Hara when it came to cursing. "It's an honest mistake," I heard myself saying, "but I am NOT a lady!"

While a true statement (I flunk Miss Manners daily, on many counts), my response looked nutty. The boss was only trying to be kind. But I was so mad, I couldn't help myself.

I've huffed and puffed about many things I should have blown off. So I could only nod when I heard this wisdom from an executive recruiter for C-suites and board seats: "Thick skin. That's what more women need."

But not just one layer. To get to the top, women likely need three.

Let's start by shedding the soft veneer we're encouraged to grow as girls - for something more battle-ready. This month on Harvard Business Review's site, management expert Jeff Pfeffer points out that women won't get equal power until they project equal toughness.

"We've ruined her," said a male friend about his tween daughter. He explained that while he and his wife bred a love of grit in their sons (rolling in mud, staring down bullies), they had indulged their daughter in little-girl-ness. Her nose was always wiped, her clothes never dirty. When the playground was rough, her parents would come to school and sort things out. "She spends hours crying about wisecracks, what's she going to do when someone yells at her at work!"

I assured my friend that most girls find their inner-street-fighter soon enough; that like many of us, raised to value niceness, she'd learn its drawbacks and find the ability to push back or laugh it off (though I'm still learning). In the name of kindness, we should nurture as much "tough guy" in our daughters as we do in our sons.

Girls also need a layer that boys don't - added protection to be successful outsiders, until we finally get comfortable with females wielding power as overtly as men do. Not long after I snapped at Derek's boss, I was assigned a mentor. This woman was the rarest of breeds, a female proprietary trader, Wall Street 1988. She took me to drinks and said, "You're going to be lonely. But you'll succeed if you want to." At the time, this wasn't particularly motivational. But the words stayed with me because they were true. And, unless progress accelerates, they will still be true when my daughter goes to work in 15 years.

While a lack of gal-pals is survivable, the second thick-skin layer is about more than warding off loneliness.I've always hung out with guys as much as women, so it never occurred to me that spending my career in mostly-male places could be a problem.

But when you're the only one of your kind in the room, there are no standard expectations - no one knows what they want from you. I got advice on all the many things I shouldn't be. "Young women should not be funny" - when I tried to ape (perhaps poorly) witty male superiors. "Try to be less squeaky and talk slower," was my colleague's brotherly prompt as we walked into client meetings. "Cut the 'professor' voice," said a favorite guy friend, when I carried on about topics I knew well. All good feedback. But how to be is hard to navigate when you're stuck zig-zagging between male and female norms.

As one of two women at an off-site, I watched my only female peer present to the group. Her approach to striking the right tone was to remove all affect from her voice. Predictably, no one listened. I got up to speak next but had forgotten to breathe. My fear of being a female flop rose so high I almost fell over. I clung to podium, painfully plodding, and jokeless. I've since learned to find the humor in these moments - and now know others share my sweaty palms.

Researching Getting to 50/50, we found this issue has been well-studied. Columbia professor Claude Steele recently conducted a study showing that even female engineers (no strangers to being outnumbered by men), have higher heart rates, temperature and distraction when they are less than 25% of the room. Make the room gender-neutral and group results improve - women perform well and men perform no worse.

This isn't an argument for quotas in engineering or anywhere else. It is simply to point out that some environments will enhance our chances of success while others won't. Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, a creator of the Implicit Association Test, offers even more usable advice. If you can't fix your workplace, if you can't recruit your way to a more gender-neutral team, find other ways to surround yourself with evidence that you are not alone. To escape the cultural swamp, the one in our minds, Banaji puts famous women scientists on her screen saver and fills her office with reminders that human greatness is not bounded by sex or color.

Now, it's at that pinnacle - big power, money or fame - where women need a third shielding layer, like chainmail. What do I have in mind? How about Sarah Palin. I agree with Palin on very little, but her raw ambition makes me smile. As does her ability to walk right through flack - untouched by bi-partisan detractors and inconvenient facts. Let's get that super-strength body armor on the many talented women who lack it.

Jane, a neurosurgeon, was an expert in her field and held a big position at a major teaching hospital. She got pregnant at 40. Her male colleagues thought she'd lost her mind - that child creation and brain surgery didn't mix. She took six weeks off to recover from the birth and returned to the hospital game to resume her full schedule. But her boss had a different plan. "Your colleagues had extra work while you were out, you need to pay them back. I'm doubling your call schedule until that happens." You could see his point - her peers needed a break and she had caused the problem. But was this the optimal approach? With a six-week-old baby, feeling betrayed at work, Jane quit. What if she'd had Sarah's skin? She might have done a Mama Grizzly, bear hugged her boss and assured him she'd pay the time back - in a year, when she could see straight.

Women don't need a child to need the chainmail layer, just a man-sized set of dreams. The dean at a major professional school said, "It awes me how the knives come out. When a woman here is poised to beat out a male peer for a big job, some men will say things that just aren't true, it makes them uncomfortable that a woman could win."

Who wants to believe this? I don't. But then you start to see little things that say it might still be so. In liberal northern California, I watched my son's soccer game, in a league divided by age and gender. One parent said, "hey, wouldn't it be fun to have the boys play the girls?" Another replied, "yeah, but look at the girls, they're more focused - they'll clobber these guys. And some dads just won't deal well if their sons lose to girls." (Check out data collected by the National Science Foundation on the resistance we still have to seeing women as winners.)

What's the cure? Keep at it - think Gandhi for gals. A small man with a very thick skin moved minds (re-moved an empire) by helping people like him stand up for themselves, in the right way - again, and again, and again.

Leadership expert Jean Kahwajy tells women to "assume people are doing the best that they can." The trick Kahwajy says is learning to "receive," to hear what you don't want to hear and react in a positive way. So you have the energy to stand up for yourself - and for others.

"The senior guys I work for didn't want to promote Lynn to run a simple, local business," said a female executive who'd built her career (and sturdy shell) working at a big company. "They said Lynn didn't have enough experience to be in charge. But, weeks before, they'd made a man named Jack the leader of a complex, global business that he knew nothing about. So I said, 'Hmm, I'm trying to follow the logic here. Is it just that Jack is much smarter than Lynn?' The guys stopped, laughed, and gave Lynn her promotion."

With a strong hull, you feel safe to act on Gandhi's maxim: "An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."

By Sharon Meers

 |  August 13, 2010; 8:43 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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OH, let's have more advice on how to behave,
and maybe some ethics advice,
courtesy of Goldman Sacs traders.

THAT's rich.

Posted by: whistling | August 19, 2010 11:56 AM
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The real question is WHEETHER THE
NASTIEST, UGLIEST OF THE MEN GET AHEAD?

Maybe in New York, on Wall Street, among thosea at the fine old jewish firm of Goldman Sachs.

Count the ugliest women to see if their deliberate lack of civility has been a boon.


Posted by: whistling | August 19, 2010 11:10 AM
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On the contrary.

Two female radio/tv personalities have just been relieved of their jobs or been remanded, officially by a court for being nasty of abuse.

Both stories were inthe Post. Both 'personalities' wer the same ethnic breed.

As are most of the newspaper owners and writers in this nation.

Since the rest of the world hasn't fallen to the same degree of Wall Street nastiness of America,

let's see if we can't change the dynamic. Not reason to be pinky nice....but a little class,
a little decency
a little courtesy

would work for Americans everywhere and every way.

Let the 'new yorkers' do their thing.

Posted by: whistling | August 19, 2010 11:04 AM
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I may have been hasty in my comments on her career at Goldman. However, there are other cases, male and female like what I described, probably more of them male.

The scene of a young attractive woman standing behind a young man absorbed in computer screens and getting frustrated that he doesn't notice her and then making a snide remar to an authority figure man who comes up is genetic in woman in two ways.

Young people should try to focus their energy into learning their business better, whatever the source of their angst.

Diversity makes all work places harder and less focused on constructive work valuable inside and outside the firm and more on just getting credit even if the results are destructive. We will face more financial crises brought on by diversity.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 19, 2010 6:09 AM
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Two great posts:

Posted by: moebius22 | August 15, 2010 5:20 PM

yabbadabbadoofus | August 15, 2010 5:04 PM

We can see why financial services got into trouble. What did Sharon Meers contribute on a trading floor? She was involved in sales of mortgages and derivatives to customers who were browbeaten into buying what they should not have?

This is why we should have let the big investment banks fail. If Goldman paid a price for letting Sharon Meers be a Managing Director to browbeat customers to buy what they should not have, and then suffered losses for it later in blow back, then it might get the people who have no business on a trading floor off of it.

Meers very likely in her time at Goldman actually kept people out of the business who had the ability to contribute constructively. She would identify them in the interview process and then black ball them. So only people who didn't understand the finance that well would be hired or they would have no scruples to use their know-how to sell mortgages and derivatives on customers that amounted to mis-selling.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 19, 2010 5:22 AM
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Thank you for another great and inspiring post, Ms. Meers!

Posted by: StowMom | August 16, 2010 10:46 PM
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I did like the part about LISTENING. Some managers follow the military practice of making people repeat back instructions to make sure the message was clear. Not mind reading, not expecting people to read your mind, not trying to "figure out what you really mean." The flip side is equally important, if you have something to say, SAY IT. Make a list of action items and follow up with a confirming email.

Posted by: nvizhon | August 16, 2010 3:40 AM
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Whitman and Fiorina

- if these two snorted the Angel Dust of Global Warming and Embraced 15 Million Illegals - the noble elite (people that read all of the Byron and Joyce Cliff notes in Liberal Arts studies) would embrace them for attempting to redeem California

Posted by: highkey11 | August 15, 2010 11:26 PM
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Exactly my point. She could have made that point without making the op ed a tired lecture on gender discrimantion in the workplace?

Posted by: moebius22 | August 15, 2010 7:54 PM
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I am a woman who has worked for years at a high level with mostly men. This article makes valid points. She doesn't argue for deceit. She argues for toughness. I see young women in the workplace acting very girlish and sweet & I think "you won't get anywhere like that." Is that good or bad -- I don't know. But it's a tough world; women need thick skin; and they still need to prove themselves while men seem to get a pass until they mess up. That's been my experience after 35 years in the workforce & that of many of my female friends.

Posted by: postreader118 | August 15, 2010 7:03 PM
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The article is like the last one she wrote. Deluge us with a bunch of one sided studies, cite a bunch of personal anecdotes, and cherry picked experts to prove her point, before settling on the jist of her argument that has nothing in particluar to do with gender discrimantion (even though she tries to make it otherwsie).

Problem is she's so obsessed with patriarchal gender stereotypes and roles, that she goes off point, and undermines the overall thrust of what she is saying.

Posted by: moebius22 | August 15, 2010 5:20 PM
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It's amazing how so many readers misinterpret what the author was saying. It's like they didn't even read the article.

Bravo to the author! Job well done.

Posted by: jrm46 | August 15, 2010 5:08 PM
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I am begging the Post to stop carrying Meers' columns. She really isn't that smart and is just milking some concocted "movement" for herself to make a living. It's like watching a segment on Today. Dreadful. Then again, I guess the Post needs eyeballs on ads desperately. No matter the fluff. Wouldn't it be great to be able to trust some news site for serious, thoughtful news. One wonders if any part of the Post can be counted on like that. But, it would be nice to not have to sift through silliness. Publishers always scream it wouldn't pay the rent. Funny, I know a ton of folks, including me, who would gladly PAY for a subscription to something to avoid Meers-type piffle while reading anything that at least tries to be "hard" news.

Posted by: yabbadabbadoofus | August 15, 2010 5:04 PM
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"To DUBYA1938 -

Wow. You really didn't get it.
"
...I appreciate your entirely-vapid response.

Seriously.

It goes to show that there are still people like you out there who are obsessed with style to the point where they have no substance. At all.

Posted by: dubya1938 | August 15, 2010 3:42 PM
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Perfect example? Clinton vs. Obama. The casual but brutal sexism directed to her was thought to be "funny" -- like the Hillary nutcracker. Not one member of her own party spoke out against it. On the other hand, Obama, as a male, was credited as being better for the job, though he had virtually no experience in politics. People were outraged if anyone made fun of him.

Posted by: Beckola | August 15, 2010 2:31 PM
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The best way to be successful as a CEO is to be rude, profane, and arrogant; to increase productivity by agitating the strutures and firing as many people as possible, and by getting short term profits as high as possible, then getting out with a big bonus. Not that it does the company any good. But, what the hey! Works at H-P and a lot of other places.

Posted by: jonstephens | August 15, 2010 12:51 PM
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I can't help feeling like Gender focused columns like this are written by people stuck in some kind of time warp where perspectives and attitudes never change despite the passing of time. Some things to consider:

-Women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools—for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same.

-Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.

-Men dominate just two of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next decade: janitor and computer engineer. Women have everything else—nursing, home health assistance, child care, food preparation.

-According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980.

-They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs.

-About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast.

-CEOs may be rare in America’s largest companies, they are highly prized: last year, they out earned their male counterparts by 43 percent, on average, and received bigger raises.

Sharon Meers obviously occupies a world where most women and men would not want to be, but she should realize that that world is not necessarliy representative of the average. I wonder how she missed the fact that the few women in her field are out earning their male counterparts...something to do with selective vision?

Posted by: moebius22 | August 15, 2010 11:39 AM
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It is wrong to swear a work, I don't care what sex you are. I do it sometimes, but I know that when I do it, it sends the message that I am not entirely in control.
Sorry, I thought this article was lacking in any new or interesting analysis.

Posted by: digtalcomp | August 15, 2010 11:14 AM
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Corporate officers are not really human so most of the advice here is lost on the average human, who has other ambitions than becoming as rich and powerful as they possibly can.

Posted by: Ezra2 | August 15, 2010 8:59 AM
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Do women feel that they are entitled to certain jobs? Sometimes you are not a good fit for a job. Instead of trying to force something, maybe the best thing to do is move to a different situation.

Posted by: hipshot | August 15, 2010 8:09 AM
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I have worked for men and women and quite frankly found there are good and bad in both groups. The worst women seem to be the ones determined to show how tough they are, but the men at that level don't act that tough. All-in-all, as long as the person is fair, considerate, and reasonable, I could take either one.

But how should MEN act toward women in the workplace? Men feel physically superior and so can find themselves bullying women. After a decade of bumpy starts dealing with women in the workplace I came upon a rule that seems to work. When I interact with a woman I ask myself the following question: "would I use the same underlying tone speaking to a man, a man bigger than me."

Posted by: hipshot | August 15, 2010 7:44 AM
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"Thank you Dubya1938 for your interesting comments. In the interest of further understanding, could you please elaborate on:
1.) Where in the article the author is advocating passive agressiveness as a tool for career advancement.
2.) What defines an environment where an individual fits in. Specifically, is gender such a definitive trait that if an individual doesn't share it with the members in the group, then is the environment not a "good fit?""

...cease with the red-herrings, please. The entire article is about hiding your true feelings in order to get ahead in your career. And this isn't an issue of sexism, it's a simple issue of morals and values.

If your morals and values aren't a good fit for the organization or the people who run it, then you're better off leaving and finding one that is. I hope that response clarified rather than obfuscated, like yours did.

Posted by: dubya1938 | August 15, 2010 5:22 AM
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Is someone sleeping with the editor? Why is this whining constantly on WaPo? I wish I had half the opportunities this person had. I'd be whining all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Calabrese99 | August 15, 2010 4:44 AM
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. . ."if their sons LOSE to girls"
not LOOSE

Posted by: IIntgrty | August 15, 2010 12:08 AM
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Re: A friend who had recently returned from maternity leave once told me that, upon hearing the grousing of her work counterparts, who were all male, her response was to say that she would be happy to cover for them at any time should they wish to take an UNPAID leave as she had done. That reminder that some financial hardship had been involved seemed to do the trick. -- Posted by: CMNC
--------------------
My traditional, older male boss was okay with letting me rush out the door each day at 5:00 sharp, after I explained that my daycare provider charged $1 for each minute I was late. He was always late, and he could calculate the cost quite quickly. The fact that I wanted to be home with my kid wouldn't have moved him one bit. |

Posted by: Concernedschoolworker | August 14, 2010 11:20 PM
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'With a strong hull, you feel safe to act on Gandhi's maxim: "An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."'

did he say that really ? maybe he did. gandhi is one of the most misquoted people on the planet though.

Posted by: calm1 | August 14, 2010 11:17 PM
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"yeah, but look at the girls, they're more focused - they'll clobber these guys. And some dads just won't deal well if their sons loose to girls."

Lose, not loose.

Posted by: purple_cow_productions | August 14, 2010 5:28 PM
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An interesting perspective, but I'm wondering how this jives with the studies showing that if women are as forceful as men, they are described in unfriendly terms, while the men are seen as displaying leadership qualities. And what about the other studies showing that, when presented with identically strong resumes, but with names indicating different genders, evaluators described the 'male' candidate as a leader, while expressing a negative view of the uppity 'female' candidate. This is ingrained in our culture and there is some evidence that it takes the form of unconscious objections for which we subsequently search for conscious justification. Hence the excuse that someone is 'just not a good fit'.

The response of the neurosurgeon's boss was a startling example of a lack of leadership, and, I might add, illegal. Under FMLA, retribution for any covered medical absence, including the heart surgeries much more common among middle-aged men than among women, is prohibited by law. (I've had colleagues who were out for weeks due to that problem, or for cancer treatment, but no one complained about that.) But that's not the issue. Upbraiding her was apparently easier than the action that should have been taken, which was to stand up to those other subordinates who had complained, explaining that the leave was her right.

A friend who had recently returned from maternity leave once told me that, upon hearing the grousing of her work counterparts, who were all male, her response was to say that she would be happy to cover for them at any time should they wish to take an UNPAID leave as she had done. That reminder that some financial hardship had been involved seemed to do the trick.

Posted by: CMNC | August 14, 2010 1:54 PM
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To DUBYA1938 -

Wow. You really didn't get it.

Posted by: washdcnative | August 14, 2010 1:14 PM
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This is another example of why the republicans own the "family values" issue. Just hand it to them on a silver platter, why don't you. Instead, the liberals can own the "corporate values" issues. Joy to the world!!

Regardless, this is more of the same liberal, feminism gone backwards and haywire thinking that reflects the inherent conflicts of this weird Godless culture of ours. Women can be ugly, rude, thick-skinned bastards too....great!! So they can "get on top". On top of what? The "power pile", talk about worshiping false gods..... Oh, and the other side of the feminism gone haywire and backwards problem is having allowed your daughters to become sexual objects for the male gender. That's OK, I suppose, as long as your dicking someone in the workplace and your employees call you "sir" and fear you because of your power and money and prestige. I believe it's called "status"- this is what is wrong with this culture of ours- women, once the saviours of our culture have now thrown in with enemies of love, compassion and understanding. (Still not enough to make me vote republican....it just makes me sick).

My mother taught me that you never hit a girl. You open doors for females, they sit at the table first, you carry the heavy stuff that needs to be carried somewhere and you protect them. And I have done this for 57 years. And I have voted for every democratic presidential candidate since McGovern.

All this can be achieved and still not be labeled a chauvinist. Your boss was right to scold you pal for cursing in front of you- or for cursing in general. What's wrong with you?

I hope you get well soon.

Posted by: vludlow1 | August 14, 2010 12:43 PM
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Thanks for the great article. I'm a professor in a male-dominated discipline, and I found your advice very helpful.

Posted by: crazycatlady | August 14, 2010 10:52 AM
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This is an excellent article marred only by the Palin reference. No one should emulate Palin in any regard. She has a thick head, not a thick skin.

If you want to hold up women with thick skin, look no further than Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2002. Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, WorldCom auditor Cynthia Cooper, and FBI agent Colleen Rowley.

Watkins wrote the memo warning Kenneth Lay that the company’s accounting practices were looking very shady. Cooper, an internal auditor at WorldCom, mounted an investigation revealing the largest bookkeeping scam in corporate history, misstating earnings by at least $3.8 million. And Rowley, a former FBI agent, disclosed incompetence in counterterrorism efforts before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Now these women have thick skins and are thoroughly admirable.

Posted by: vincereardon | August 14, 2010 10:18 AM
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Meers should add a 4th layer of skin to her column: If women find out they are paid less than men that do the same work, they should ask for a raise or promotion, or litigate.

Posted by: Donutango | August 14, 2010 8:38 AM
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If a male neurosurgeon was ill for 6 weeks, would he be expected to make up the time by working double? Pregnancy is not an illness, but it's not a vacation either. But hey, even if someone is on vacation, they are entitled to time off and don't "owe" anyone the time back.

The arguments in this article are really weak. Thick skin definitely helps succeed in life, but Palin as a role model? She is one of the most nasty and vindictive politicians anywhere and would never have been successful without her flirtaeous ways and pretty face.

Posted by: Kachina101 | August 14, 2010 8:17 AM
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Expect betrayal. Whether you are a man or a woman, expect it. And if you are a woman and can find a mentor, great. If not that friendly higher up may be stabbing you in the back the same time she is your best buddy.

Develop allies if you can. Forget the BS about not having friends, make them. Some you may like, and some instinctively know the deal. MOst will have your back as long as you have theirs.

Modulate you voice, keep it even, gesture infrequently, don't be shocked when men talk about there "feelings." They mean it.

It's there world and they are as much as a mess as we are, more. Life ain't fun for men when they're in the minority and have to navigate strange territory, but that happens rarely.

Hard to do. Expect betrayal. Don't take it personally when it comes. Bide your time and get even. Make sure every ally knows what happened. And it will happen more than once.

If you make a genuine 24 caret enemy, so be it. Keep the rifle clean.

Posted by: farnaz_mansouri2 | August 14, 2010 2:38 AM
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Women don't need thicker skin to succeed.

They just have to learn to be slimy and immoral like the guys.

Steal your customers money at 27% interest rates even though you are floating on 0% Fed loan money. Churn the accounts and collect unearned fees. Cause power shortages and bet on energy markets like the smartest guys in the room at Enron.

These are the guys winning in this system. And if women really want to succeed they need to be just as slimy in unethical as the guys.

Have fun.

Posted by: awofw | August 13, 2010 11:28 PM
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I was very interested in your column until you mentioned Sarah Palin. Sorry, but you lost a reader there.

Posted by: pumor | August 13, 2010 11:03 PM
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Women are dumb and have idiot brains. No wonder they need to "learn" from men.

Posted by: bull6 | August 13, 2010 9:13 PM
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I find it interesting that women hardly recognize the difficulties they face are the same difficulties men face and have done for ever. If you can't cut the custard, you can't cut the custard.

I can just see myself breaking down to cry when my boss sounds me out. Well perhaps I can't, I just need a thick skin.

Posted by: Rasmuncher | August 13, 2010 8:58 PM
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Thank you Dubya1938 for your interesting comments. In the interest of further understanding, could you please elaborate on:
1.) Where in the article the author is advocating passive agressiveness as a tool for career advancement.
2.) What defines an environment where an individual fits in. Specifically, is gender such a definitive trait that if an individual doesn't share it with the members in the group, then is the environment not a "good fit?"

Posted by: ld35 | August 13, 2010 8:05 PM
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...truth and honesty are their own rewards, lies and deceit are their own punishment. Don't worry about growing thicker skin. Worry about needing it in the first place. Success is as much about choosing your opportunities as it is about choosing your technique, and how can you expect to succeed when you make bad choices about technique as well as timing, choices that expose your concern with who and when but not how and why, choices that expose you as a fraud and a deceiver willing to sell yourself out as well as deceive your coworkers and supervisors just to get your hands on just one brass ring out of many.

Posted by: dubya1938 | August 13, 2010 7:49 PM
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...another stupid sexist article.

Reactionary sexism is no worse than the initial sexism. Your problem isn't that you aren't "tough enough" or that you don't have thick skin, it's that you still couch your career-advancement in terms of sexist concerns. The main issue is that your peers want someone who they can trust, who they feel fits in with them. Different peer-groups have different concerns. And it's pretty obvious when you are "going with the flow" just to advance your career with that organization. You may feel that you are just getting along with a group of good ol' boys when you stand out like a sore thumb for the sheer fact that you're a woman who tries to act like a "good ol' boy" when they know damm well that a woman like you would never put up with their shenanigans if there wasn't something in it for you.

So you argue for deceit and passive acceptance as a tool for career-advancement in a group of males, and that is just as sexist and sad as anything else. Don't try to get ahead in an organization where you don't really fit in. Find a group that is a good fit for you and develop there. If you have to fake your way to the top then you're just setting yourself up for the moment when you expect to be rewarded for all your suffering and they just look at you and tell you that they would never put someone as transparently fake as you in a leadership position. And then what are you going to do.

Posted by: dubya1938 | August 13, 2010 6:58 PM
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