Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stiletto-Proof Glass

"Glass ceiling" was a phrase bandied about with much heat when the Editrix was in college, lo those many years ago. The discussion seems not so heated these days, but the evidence of it certainly continues.

The Editrix brings this up as the result of a discussion Ethyl had with MAN, one of our VPs, a couple months ago. MAN, Ethyl, and AMB were going to Chicago for a meeting, heading out on an early-ish flight. MAN arrived early enough that he was the very first person in Southwest's B boarding line. Ethyl, having smartly e-boarded early enough to be in the A group, sailed in a bit later. MAN starts to get very concerned that AMB is going to miss the flight. Mind you, his concern isn't unwarranted. But as Ethyl explains to him, AMB "will get here right before they close the door."

So MAN's response to this info? "Wow, I guess his wife isn't very supportive of him." "What do you mean?" "Well, my wife always makes sure I'm packed and have everything I need and that I leave on time for stuff like this." At which point, Ethyl's head explodes.

OK, not really. But she is the mother of three, two of whom are under 3 years old. She would view her husband as supportive if she didn't have to hound him to help her with the kids in the morning when it is obvious she is overwhelmed. She would expect him to help her pack roughly when hell freezes over.

So here's a VP, not much older than me or Ethyl, who expects that his colleagues have someone at home to basically wipe their asses. How on earth are professional women supposed to shine at work with this kind of crap in the back of their bosses' heads? All of the Editrix's friends with kids who also work for a paycheck are constantly exhausted, and the Editrix is no exception. In fact, she could pose as the poster case for exhaustion. How on earth are we supposed to have those brilliant ideas, implement those aggressive product release schedules, just generally shine and get those promotions when our asses are constantly dragging, AND we're competing with jerks like MAN whose SAH wives perpetuate those 50s stereotypes???

In defense of my own boss, along with the company president, I don't feel as if the MAN attitude permeates management here. (Though the lack of women VPs concerns me.) But I have worked for far too many places where it did. When, exactly, is sexism going to die? Susan Faludi wrote Backlash about 20 years ago, and not nearly enough has changed. Professionally, Nancy Pelosi, Oprah, and Indra Nooyi notwithstanding, the average woman's prospects aren't incredibly better now. We're up to a whopping 2 % of women CEOs of major companies. WHOO HOO BABY.
And note how Fortune plays those numbers, like they are some fabulous thing: "There are more women running FORTUNE 500 companies this year than there were last year. Currently, 10 FORTUNE 500 companies are run by women (up from 9 last year), and a total of 20 FORTUNE 1000 companies have women in the top job (up from 19)." Yeah, I'm feeling the progress. 'Cause the Editrix is sure that no promising, talented women have opted for spending more time with their family over a hard-driving career, whether that means a less demanding job or quitting altogether.

Why would anyone make such a choice? It's not like the workplace remains the same as 20 years ago. Oh, wait, it is: a 40-hour or more week is required for promotion to upper management; benefits, which we all need, continue to be tied to a job, meaning that women and men who want or need to work less cannot, unless they would like to go without health insurance and risk their own and their kids' health. Ooooh, can I? And with the proliferation of email and Crackberries, we can't escape the office unless we vacation in the middle of Wyoming or Antarctica or something.

That's not to say that flextime, telecommuting, and other workplaces changes in the last 15 years haven't been good for women; they have. But let's be honest, they benefit men at least as much. And they are still regarded as privileges, carrots to hand out, rather than a basic part of the workplace structure. Which is still modeled after the 1950s Ward Cleaver lifestyle, in which all those little things like grocery shopping, cleaning house, cooking, running errands, taking the kids to the doctor, going to school activities, getting the car fixed, meeting various home contractors, etc., were all magically taken care of by June. The Editrix, though not gay, would dearly love to have a wife like June. The Editrix positively loathes cleaning house, after all.

When men routinely take paternity leave for two or more months, it will be a fine day in America. Until then, get out your glass cutters, everyone. Or at the very least, do your part and don't expect your spouse to be your servant.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Void of Clues

It's make fun of contributors week!

When you're trying to spell a word you're just sure you know, but one that Word keeps placing that annoying red squiggle under it, what do you do? Well, if you are one of my beloved contributors, you would NOT consult a dictionary, even the fairly useless one embedded in Word. Nah, that would take too much effort. So when you want to use that word that means "absence of matter" as well as "to clean with or use a vacuum cleaner," you just sound it out. Apparently.

Because that is the only way the Editrix figures the attorney-contributor got to the alleged word "vacumn": by reasoning that it rhymes with "column."

And then, there was a headline written by another contributor from the same firm, which embodies the aphorism about apples not falling far from the tree. The headline was 30 words. Thirty freaking words! Not only is that not a headline, it's not even short enough for a lead (or lede, for you old journos) sentence. Ye gods. Do these people not read the Wall St. Journal or the New York Times? or even the Miami Herald? It's time to buy a clue, folks. Or the Editrix will dump you into the black hole that is her inbox.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Have Disability, Will Travel

Wow, a two-fer posting day. Will wonders never cease. But I had to share this:

From an article about workers' comp and determining disability ratings (yes, the Editrix leads a riotous life), the author wrote, "If the employee is determined to have a disability, and that disability . . . ."

Yes, the Editrix is sure that employee is completely frothing at the mouth and lusting to have a disability.

If you ever want an example of why passive voice is the spawn of Satan and bureaucrats everywhere, you have the Editrix's permission to use this one. Extensively.

Smarty-pants

Yep, it's been awhile. Sinus surgery will do that.

I seriously worry about two things: 1) that the MyPod generation is completely incompetent and yet will inevitably have the reins of power handed to them/dropped in their laps from Gen X's dead hands, and what will happen to the world then? and 2) that I am now an official old fart because I worry about #1.

I mention this because yesterday, the clerk at Target was astounded that I knew the word "hydrogenated" and used it in a sentence. As in, "Wow, what's the difference between Kraft Organic Mac-n-Cheese and regular?" With my response, "Eh, they use organic cheese and wheat, and no hydrogenated fats." "Whoa, hydrogenated? That makes you sound really smart!"

Um, gee, thanks. Maybe I'll get a t-shirt, figure out my new embroidery/sewing machine, and embroider "hydrogenated" on the front and back. So, yanno, I can look smart coming and going.

I did manage to bite back the reply I wanted to say, which was, "Ah, well, I sound smart because I AM," on the grounds that it's not nice to brag. Also, if you're an official Target maven, you're not allowed to make the Target clerk hate you.

In a way, it was like reliving my angst-filled childhood, when I was routinely made fun of, and was mortified, by kids saying "you're so smart you read the dictionary at night." Which was mostly NOT true! except when I looked up a word for homework and then there were some other really fascinating words nearby . . . . Maybe I passed the test better the second time around, because this time I didn't blush and I didn't want to go hide under a rock. Ah, the scars of a childhood growing up in Appalachia.