Dichotomy: Women have tons of decision-making power at the family level, almost none at the business level

Glass Ceiling Makes No Sense

Here’s The New York Times being “goofy” and comparing the number of companies run by guys named John (just the name John) to the number of companies run by women at all. It’s maybe a little bit awkward at parts, but this chart is something else:

Glass Ceiling S&P 1500

So … 5.3% of the S&P 1500 is run by someone named John (a popular name, but hardly the only thing you can name a male baby) whereas 4.1% of the S&P 1500 is run by a woman at all (all names, not just “Cathy” or something). That’s a miserable train wreck, eh? 

Here’s the final paragraph of the NYT article. I added the bold:

The Glass Ceiling Index is a fun but quite imperfect way of measuring the permeability of the glass ceiling. (Especially because in a few decades, the millennial Jacobs, Tylers and Zacharys will outnumber baby boomer Bills and Bobs.) But it does point to an important truth — that in many important decision-making areas of American life, women remain vastly outnumbered.

I realize I’m talking about the Glass Ceiling here at the broadest/simplest possible level, but … do you ever stop and think about how ridiculous gender roles really are? Basically, it looks like this:

  • Almost every household/family-related decision is thought to run through the woman.
  • Almost every business decision is thought to run through the man.


This, to me, is a little bit like the introvert-extrovert situational context. In marketing, for example, hiring managers always chase extroverts, because the concept of “marketing” (like “sales”) has a lot of logical ties back to extroverted people. The problem is, marketing in the modern age is mostly about listening and reacting to what you heard, and introverts are way better at that (by definition). So, we should hire more introverts. But we don’t. Same thing when you think about conventional networking: everyone assumes the hard-charging, business-card-passing, Type-A extrovert is the king of that room. Again, in reality it’s probably the introvert. But we allow our basic preconceived notions to get in the way.

Reminds me a lot of this:

“You see us as you want to see us: the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions…”

If you cut through all the comparisons to some random guy named “John,” the fact is that 1 in 25 companies on the S&P 1500 have a woman at the helm. I’m not saying they don’t have a woman somewhere in the main leadership channels, but this is about “the top dog” (a term that in and of itself sounds masculine, oddly). That means that 24/25 are run by a man. That’s 96 percent.

So think about that … 96 percent of the biggest companies in the world, essentially, are run by a guy. They’re missing out on what makes a woman unique, i.e. the same qualities that make everyone perfectly comfortable with women driving a lot of the household decisions and purchasing.

This seems like maybe the biggest dichotomy in social interaction, in some ways: we’re perfectly comfortable with one gender running the family (which is what really matters in life), but that same gender can’t capture the C-Suite (which directs what most people only do — i.e. work — in order to provide a life for their family).

If you really stop and think about it, the Glass Ceiling makes absolutely no fucking sense.

Ted Bauer

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