A woman has to work twice as hard to prove she is half as good.
This (or something to that effect) is a soft-board pin-up I saw first on desk of a colleague, many years ago. I was amused at first on the mathematical play on the words of a socio-philosophical statement. I didn’t pay much attention to it after that for a long time. I think she removed that poster-let from her soft-board a few days later. I used to admire her work then, I still do, but unfortunately we don’t work together anymore.
I once thought of it when a friend and I were digging up old memories. I mentioned to him about that pin-up. I wondered if she was as good at her work because she actually tried doubly hard. If she did, the effort didn’t show. We didn’t know about that for sure; we were sure however that most of us who had the good fortune of working with her, respected her.
A few weeks ago, I heard this maxim again from yet another colleague whose work I have come to admire and respect. This time, it didn’t amuse me and I said that this quote was written by someone who was against women. There were back-and-forth defensive arguments from a couple of other female colleagues who had joined the ‘conversation’. It’s true, I was told, and I wouldn’t understand, because I was a man. Maybe its just me, but I felt a hint of accusation in that statement.
And that’s a premise in an argument that you can never beat, or at least, I haven’t found a counter argument for being a man.
Very recently I ended up working with three very smart and intelligent women. It was sheer pleasure working with them and be in the company of intelligence for a whole day. It was nothing short of inspiration. This misleading mathematical premise against women in the workplace has been doing the rounds in my head, since then.
Intelligence, creativity and knowledge is gender-agnostic. A workplace may not be, but environments should not affect the very basis of who you are.
And I can only feel anger and disgust at the person who coined that maxim. It may have been true for her situation and circumstance (and of course I am making the assumption that it was constructed by a woman, possibly in the inequality days). I do not know when this was written and under what circumstances. But this statement has done more damage, than it has helped women. To those who it applied to, it offered the sanctuary of covering oneself in a victim complex, but most of all it infected those who didn’t deserve this dogmatic aphorism. I know a few who escaped the clutches of this dragging thought; some did not.
And it’s to those I address this post.
Don’t. You don’t have to prove anything.