“[The problem] actually pretty simple: Either you think all these industries are dominated across the very top levels by predominantly white men because there are numerous deep-seated societal norms and institutional biases that make it more challenging for women and minorities to advance as quickly and as far as their white male counterparts…or you think that these lists merely reflect the fact that white dudes must just be better at everything…. There is no murky middle ground where some of these industries are just more meritocratic and it just so happens that the same patterns that play out across historically gender-biased industries coincidentally bubble up to the surface here too.”
I think many white men believe that the world is a meritocracy because they are rewarded in all kinds of ways (rightly, they think). Actually, they started the race 100 yards ahead, but they’re willfully unaware and also somehow still proud when they win.
Sklar name-checks Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic, which I’ve also been thinking about since last week. The piece is about why women can’t have it all. She carefully unpacks tropes like, “It’s possible if you are just committed enough,” “It’s possible if you sequence it right” and “It’s possible if you marry the right person.” In the piece, she discusses family, pressure to be on site in the office and institutional prejudice against working moms. There’s no real solution floated forward (one of the problems with systemic prejudices is that it’s hard to solve them!), except maybe changing our agrarian school schedule to better match work schedules. Her conclusion is basically that we should all do what makes us happy.
I thought Rebecca Traister hit a nice volley back to Slaughter in her piece in Salon by saying that we should start by never even saying the words “have it all” ever again:
“It is a trap, a setup for inevitable feminist short-fall. Irresponsibly conflating liberation with satisfaction, the ‘have it all’ formulation sets an impossible bar for female success and then ensures that when women fail to clear it, it’s feminism — as opposed to persistent gender inequity — that’s to blame.”
Which brings us back to where we started.