Imagine that: the New York Times reports that females at the esteemed Harvard Business School are less likely to thrive than their male classmates. Despite having equal or superior academic skills, a distressing number of women fall short on classroom participation—the subjective assessment that comprises 50% of their grades.
To its credit, Harvard has devised a number of well-intentioned academic interventions to reverse this trend. Most are doomed to fail. It is a law of nature, universally observed, that high stakes competition encourages an assorted bag of dirty tricks and exclusionary practices especially amongst the “Masters of the Universe” types that populate elite business schools. Official sanctions are a palliative that will ultimately send these chest-thumpers underground to snicker with like-minded members of their ‘secret societies’.
I propose a different tact, one that sends an unequivocal message to both genders. Women have to toughen up and fight for their place at the table. Far too many of them have assumed that “feminism” is some quaint concept spoken fondly about by their addled moms and grandmas. Many young women refuse to identify themselves with it, and openly state that the battles have already been won. REALLY?
Being a “nice” girl ensures that you will curry favor with a certain type of man who may date you but rarely chooses to hire and promote you. Speaking up (or out) poses risks but it also confers benefits such as self-respect, leadership, and yes, a better grade for “class participation”. I am unsympathetic to claims that women are “intimidated” by sneering classmates who challenge or ignore them. This is the real world, ladies, especially for those of you who actually enter the fray whether in the financial jungles or the boardroom.
One can be comforted by the knowledge that many of these superannuated Frat boys will be indicted, imprisoned, or lopped off the evolutionary chart in the decades to come—hoist on their own noxious petard.
Courage under fire never comes easily but taking responsibility for one’s own life is part of the deal. Just ask those soldiers (male and female) who risk their lives daily for the rest of us.
Female applicants must gird their lady parts for the battles ahead. By clarifying their personal and professional goals and calmly assessing their willingness to fight the good fight, they may just reverse the current trend.
Stop waiting for a savior—gallantry died long ago.