Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bare breasted or buttoned up...can't reach the top

Watching the movie American Hustle you’d think women in the 70’s only wore shirts that revealed bare breasts. To be more accurate, they also wore neckties. Broad shouldered blazers, buttoned-down shirts and, yes, very manly-looking neckties were women's symbolic armor for an equal rights battle. Undergarments off, ties on. Braless and buttoned-up, we women thought we could go head-to-head with men for the right to work and more importantly to shape our society. 

 In 2013, women wear low cut, high cut, buttoned up or buttoned down --the choices are endless. Anyway you cut the fabric, the wardrobe adjustment hasn't worked.  Whose voices are shaping the Jewish community today? Hint: not enough women.

You may have read in ejewishphilanthropy the list of the ten most read articles in 2013. Only two women's articles made the top ten. Is it that we are not writing, or we are not heard?

More stunning than the ejewish list was the Forward's list of top paid Jewish professionals in 2013. In a field largely inhabited by women.. aren't your buttons bursting because only 8 women appeared on the list of 75 top paid professionals? Notably the first woman on the list did not even  appear in the top ten. She came in at number 21.

Men clearly have the power where I work. Yet, most of the employees are women. I wonder out loud "What is the problem?"  

Is it women? Have we not learned the skills to rise up in the ranks? Do we more quickly give up the climb because we put family first? Is our leadership style, often collaborative and inclusive, not valued as powerful enough? It's not the  wardrobe, I’m sure. It's not lack of effectiveness, I'm sure. We get s*** done.

Or is it men? Is it that men often problem solve by banging heads together and prefer banging with other men? Are men trapped by their own iconic images of boss, father and lover and don’t know how to interact with women in other ways?  Does the the system hear a man's voice as boss and a woman's voice as bossy?

Saying yes to any of these questions would be a conceit to a stereotype.
But one stereotype confirmed by too many proof texts is that in the Jewish community men’s voices are heard more and valued more.  And you know what..the result hasn’t been so great (Pew? Pugh).

Has this been The American Jewish Hustle? What's the  con? Should men's voices be heard more often than women's? Should men be the majority of leaders in our most influential organizations? Should Jewish men get paid more than Jewish women?

I'm ready for a sting operation in 2014, are you?