The Uneven Meritocracy – Women Beat Men In College, Lose To Men In The Workplace

Well, here is the sad fact:  women are still considered “less than” by far too many (by the way, including some other women).  The progress has not been great enough or fast enough.

So, here is a whopping piece of insight from a recent NPR Diane Rehm program (NPR — this session guest-hosted by Susan Page).  The title for the hour, (March 24, 2011) was: Women in the Work Force: Critical Issues (listen to the program, and read the transcript, here).    One of the guests was journalist Hannah Seligson, author of New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches.  Here is a key excerpt:

Hannah Seligson:

Well, I think what’s happened now is that the consciousness raising used to happen in college. There was all this bra burning, women were very aware of the inequality. And now college is a cocoon of equality. Women sort of run laps around men academically and we know that women graduate in higher numbers from college than men. Even law school, medical schools have equal number, if not more women.

And then something interesting happens in the workforce, and I think this is one of the big mysteries. They get to the workplace and they realize that the world is not equal, that they make less than their colleague Joe who’s sitting next to them. They may not be getting advocated for promotions as much. And so the sort of success that they had in an academic environment isn’t translating into the workplace. And I remember interviewing a professor at the Harvard Business School a few years ago and she said, you know, women think that the workplace is a meritocracy, and it isn’t and so women do very well in an academic environment where it is a meritocracy.

This uneven meritocracy really is not much in dispute.  Women are at least tied with men, exceeding men in many instances, in the educational arena.  The grades, the assignments, the graduation rate – this sets up a genuine meritocracy.  But after the years in the university, then what?

The uneven meritocracy…  This is a serious problem, and one that every woman and man in the workplace needs to address – don’t you think?

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