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Comments on: A Rant About Women

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By: Sarah

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 23:32:09 +0000

I was reminded of this article when I read "No One Knows What the F*** They're Doing (or "The 3 Types of Knowledge")" by Steve Schwartz last night. (Linky: The executive summary is that knowledge falls into three broad categories: * Shit you know, * Shit you know you don't know, and * Shit you don't know you don't know In Steve's pie charts, the shit you know gets the smallest wedge. In terms of all there is to know in this world, we really don't know all that much. The next, slightly larger wedge is the shit you know you don't know. For example, I know I don't know how to perform brain surgery. And the largest wedge, by a long way is the shit you don't know you don't know - the most "dangerous" form of "knowledge". (Read the article for some good examples). Steve suggests that we ought to strive to make the second wedge, the shit we know we don't know, the biggest of the three. We can only know so much, and trying to know everything, well - thats just not going to happen. But if we know we don't know something, we probably know where or how to find the answers or at least realize our limitations. I think his point can be related to success in business. For example, arrogant assholes probably act more within the realm of shit they don't know they don't know and are only successful because they weaken others' self confidence. Successful assertive people, on the other hand, leverage their understanding of what they know they don't know. For instance, in the original article by Clay he lied to the professor by saying he knew drafting when he didn't. It was a calculated risk. Because he knew he didn't know drafting, he had the tools to go out and prepare himself - to move drafting from something he knew he didn't know, to something he did know. Alex on Jan 16 commented: "i’m a woman and “lying” — whether that’s meant saying i knew Final Cut or Pro Tools — has gotten me every job i’ve ever had." If the job relied on Final Cut, she knew she could go out and learn it so as not to have the calculated risk in claiming she knew it blow up in her face. I've done the same thing many times and it's landed me jobs as well. So far it hasn't backfired on me because I knew my limitations - I knew when I could learn something quickly and be good at it. And if it does backfire some day, it'll only be because I wasn't actually good at something, and not for lack of trying. That's the calculated risk. I think a lot of women who aren't willing to take risks are probably operating entirely within the self-limiting realm of "shit you know". They have this idea that if they don't know something, they just don't know it and therefore they're not qualified. Period. Successful people leverage their understanding of what they don't know, and actively take steps to adapt.

By: Raymon Daniel

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 16:53:55 +0000

I certainly agree with the validity (without assessing morality or justice for a better approach for all) that those who self-promote, ask more, are bold, and daresay sometimes bluff have a statistically upward edge (and an associated risk), and there is, as some commenters subsequent to Shirk pointed out, a fine and undefinable line between that and being considered "less nice," a trait that people are accustomed to forgive a little more in masculinity. Anyone who is good at bluffing knows there's an art to it, plus a developed discretion to anticipate the possibility of the bluff being called, and necessary follow-through on the effort to quick-march the gap of risk: between the bluff and being called on it (hopefully before it's later called)... to adapt "putting their money where their mouth is". I admit my own distaste for chicanery, and strive for the virtues of genuineness and authenticity in my own life and others whom I am fortunate to choose to bring closer. Maybe those of us (myself included) who have found within us that which began to work in computing-oriented roles enjoys the fairness of ones and zeros, of impartial machines, and just because the High and Mighty want to demand the computer divide by zero, seeing their waves break on logic's jagged shore. But I would be blinding myself with nobility if I hadn't already observed in life the results often achieved by big talk. Nothing in life is as ideal as a perfect example, but all other things being equal about two potential candidates, the one who asserts more strongly, who employs more art of persuasion, who dares, wins, more often than the other. I recognize the unfairness when the societal differentiation is considered. But I have also noted the worth of taking for your own the strength of "not caring about" much. A good example is in your average male bonding: it's not that men don't have their limits, and certainly can trigger the threshold whereby an outright fighting response is provoked with another man, but that bonding almost universally includes a higher threshold for taking cracks, jabs, humorous insults, swipes, etc, and, when you learn how to give them well and in a good-spirited way (I cannot emphasize the second modifier enough), the joy shared by all. The essence of success in this comes from that differentiation learned over time from men's interactions to develop in-sensitivity, "to not care so much". Individuals can wisely adapt for themselves virtues learned from the stereotypical schools of women's sensitivity and men's insensitivity, suited to taste. In the above case, it's about our feelings, but the callous of not-caring-so-much also becomes a tool of confidence for other things. All this being said, hopefully the true difference between an asshole and an admirable person is prudence of application. Sadly, that too is an art not so easily learned, except by falling down, getting up, and reflecting.

By: Oral Mastery: Discover How To Please Women Beyond Belief. |

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 23:44:18 +0000

[...] A Rant About Women « Clay Shirky [...]

By: Laurence

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 19:22:29 +0000

I just say that the male assertiveness/self-belief that Clay espouses has been running the planet for the last five (or so) milllenia, and look what a fucked up job we have done. And we want women to learn how to behave like us? Pleeeease.

By: Piney

Thu, 11 Feb 2010 19:32:39 +0000

Thank you for this rant. This is a phenomenon i've noticed for years and it is affirming and fascinating to see it all written out. As I filtered through resumes to interview candidates for a number of positions over the years, I noticed the difference in tone between men and women. At one point, I decided to cover the top of each resume and read it without knowing the person's sex. Every single time I guessed correctly if the resume was a man's or woman's. Men were completely over the top, filled with bravado and practically claimed to be golden gods, even if they'd dropped out of school at age 12 and their only job had been a 6-month stint at the local slurpee hut. Women were tentative and almost apologetic about their skills and achievements, it was depressing, as if they were saying "don't worry, I won't make waves." As a guy's girl, I have rarely run into an actual glass ceiling. Oh, i've learned that they do exist and sexism is alive and well in America (especially the corporate world), but we broads often do it to ourselves. I used to think it was only the women that perpetuated bad stereotypes, coming to meetings in halter tops and tentatively speaking in low, soft tones. Unfortunately, it is also those of us that believed we'd get ahead through hard work that would speak for itself. Our work isn't going to do the talking, we need to speak for ourselves. We've all worked with total tools that are useless at actually getting a thing done, but DAMN, can they self promote. While we sweep up the messes, they climb that ladder, rung by rung, big titles, company cars and the respect of those around them. It IS possible to be confident and know your own worth, without becoming a total bitch-bag jerkwad. Basically, we need to man the fuck up, instead of pathetically asking "please sir, can I have some more?"

By: georgen

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 19:09:24 +0000

Yes, but.... Yes, women don't act like self-promoting narcissists, and it is to their detriment, absolutely. But... who else acts like that? Directors, CEOs, people in charge. People who have ambition and confidence. I remember asking freshmen (both genders) to give speeches on what they wanted to do after college. All the men said something specific: accountant, pharmacist, etc. Half the women said they just wanted to be happy. Great, but it's not a plan that requires steps or striving. It revealed no ambition, and no confidence they could be something special. Being a self-promoter requires confidence, something that's whipped out of women if they have it and not helped along if they don't.

By: open letter to clay shirky (and to all the ladies) « Going Solo in 2010

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 20:35:57 +0000

[...] February 9, 2010 · Leave a Comment For those who have not seen the post that this article references, please go to this page. [...]

By: I’m Calling Out Clay Shirky On His Rant About Women « Borderless Thinking

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 18:28:12 +0000

[...] 9, 2010 by Cherry Woodburn A Rant About Women, a blog post by NYU professor Clay Shirky, has raised a ruckus (over 500 comments and many, many, [...]

By: Amy

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 08:34:23 +0000

As more than a few commenters have pointed out, one of the reasons why women are generally less assertive than men is because we are penalized for it; I too have been told by superiors that being "less direct" will help me get what I want, while working in a nearly all-male environment. Moreover, this is a socioeconomic issue. The most assertive women I've met are those who come from wealthy backgrounds. They believe they are entitled to larger salaries, more respect, etc., just as many (more?) men believe they are entitled to such things. Which brings me to my main point: Entitlement. Harmless behaviors like fibbing a bit to get your foot in the door, or faking it till you make it, are necessary strategies in a competitive labor market, but when it comes to being promoted or getting a raise, those who believe they are entitled to more will ask for it. Unfortunately, these people are often "arrogant, self-aggrandizing jerks". Rewarding these individuals for this behavior, and not for the work they do, is simply lazy management. It perpetuates a broken system, where those who feel entitled to privileges receive them, therefore preventing qualified and hard-working individuals from moving up. There is an easy solution: Making all salaries public. It will become clear who deserves their salary and managers will not be so willing to give women (and men) less than they deserve lest they are called out on their sexism/racism/classism/whatever. Claiming that it's impolite to talk about money has succeeded in keeping people in their place, and it's time for a change. (We can talk about it. It is just money, after all.)

By: SarahGlassmeyer(dot)com » Blog Archive » Libpunk Mentorship

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 03:27:23 +0000

[...] been men?  GOOD QUESTION.  One of these days I’ll write response to Clay Shirky’s Rant About Women that gets more heavily into professional gender politics.  But near as I can guess, it’s [...]