Okay, I didn’t know who Mika Brzezinski was either. And yes, I am old enough to think that she might be related to the former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. And she is related, but is famous in her own right as a MSNBC co-host of Morning Joe. And now she is also an author and expert giving (more) advice to women in the workplace.
I have not read the book which is titled Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You Want. I confess that I have only read a review of the book. (Yes, shame on me, you can stop reading here if this is offensive.) I cannot review the book. But I have it on the highest authority (or at least the authority of one reporter Heather Havrilesky at the Atlantic.com) that it is a book that has a message we are tired of hearing. At least I am.
What’s the message? We are doing it wrong. What’s “it”? Everything. Here are but a few examples (of my own but in the style of Brzezinski.)
We don’t ask. Studies show that when we ask we are seen as unlikeable. Unlikeable women do not get ahead.
We don’t negotiate for what we are worth. Other studies show that when women (at least in my field) negotiate, they are perceived negatively and often don’t get the job. And after a while you learn that any job is better than no job.
We don’t do right by our kids. Nannies, daycare, stay-at-home Dads are no substitute for mothers. Another inner conflict to add to your already stressed out life.
So what’s the new message here? We shoot ourselves in the foot? We haven’t learned the lessons that all successful women should have learned? We deserve what we get? Those lessons don’t get us anywhere.
For anyone who understand gender stereotyping (and by now my loyal readers have heard a lot about it), Brzezinski has offered up just one more list of the “double standard” (sound bite that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the subject) that women face in every workplace where the power differential is gendered. And where isn’t power gendered?
At a recent conference for Women in Surgery, I heard a very interesting description of the leeway women surgeons have in their behavior. I believe it was Nancy Asch, MD who talked about the narrow “bandwidth” of behavior allowed women in surgery. It’s the same message—we have a tightrope to walk, so learn how to do it.
I disagree. This advice takes you only so far. Many women who are skillful end up in the same place as those with no skills, whether they try to acquire them or not. And they still face the same roadblocks erected by the tired, ingrained, rigidly structured workplace. A workplace that is not responsive to women. And we are fast learning it is a workplace that is not responsive to the modern man who wants more out of life than a 4 by 6 foot cubicle (that is if you are middle management) or the 100 hour work week.
We know what we have to do. We have to restructure the workplace. Unfortunately, the author offers no concrete suggestions for how to effect culture change. I am sure all of us have many different great ideas of how to effect change. I hope you will share them as we re-shape the healthcare workplace together. Join me in this adventure at Expediting the Inevitable where we are dedicated to adapting the healthcare workplace to the realities of the new healthcare workforce.