Today, at a birthday party, I had a short conversation with a guy I hadn’t seen for a while. To my ‘how have you been,’, he replied, ‘you know, working for the man.’ The expression was not entirely familiar, but based on his tone, I interpreted it as unsatisfactory work, submitted to some arbitrary form of authority, with a touch of exploitation. A form of modern slavery, featuring ‘the man’ as master.
Jokingly, I said, ‘it sounds bad, you should try working for the woman instead.’ I couldn’t miss the occasion, and explained how the very morning, I’d been pondering this optimistic paradox. At equivalent levels of competence, men hold higher positions than women. The logical corollary to the sad fact is, for an equivalent position, all odds are that women holding it are more competent than men. And therefore, it’s likely that they’ll make better managers, leaders, or bosses to work under.
I count myself lucky that, since I moved to Australia, almost all the people above me whenever I’ve worked in organisations have been women – and some of my close friends are women in leadership roles. Consistently, they’ve been exceptional.
If I was to think of an optimistic pathway to future work equality – well, here it is: since women leaders are statistically more competent than men at a similar level, let’s assume they’ll form the best teams, deliver the best results, and word will spread. Meanwhile, here’s my encouragement – as much as you can, don’t work for the man, work for the woman.