December 14, 2009

"[W]omen have been evolutionarily designed to fear rejection and disapproval much more than men do."

From an article in Psychology Today about why women tend, more than men, to suffer from the "impostor syndrome."

23 comments:

David said...

Oh you poor dears.

TMink said...

"First, “success” in advanced industrial economies like the United States is defined purely in male terms, not in female terms. When we think of “highly accomplished successful women,” we think of CEOs of major corporations, politicians, and leaders in their respective fields. In other words, we think of women who make a lot of money, exercise political power, or otherwise achieve very high status in a clearly defined hierarchy. Throughout evolutionary history, status, political power, and resources have been what defined success among men, not among women."

This is so lame on so many different levels. Who says that success in the West is only defined in male terms? Can you give at least an example? My life is full of successful women who never even worked outside the home. They raised healthy kids who pay taxes and the nurtured healthy families. They are HUGE successes.

This is the same for men. I am not a success because I make tons of money, I do NOT make tons of money. I am a success because I am faithful to my wife, I love her, we are happy together, I love my kids, I discipline them, I make them respect their mom, I teach them about personal responsibility, about Jesus, I help people in my job, etc.

How lame is this lady that she has only monetary and power characterizstics for success. This is not a gender problem, this is her problem with materialism.

And then she talks about "evoloutionary history" in terms of recorded history. Hello! If you use the phrase, you should at least understand the scope of what it means.

Another fluff piece from a dreadful magazine.

Trey

Joan said...

Thanks, Trey, for taking the time to write all that out. You've captured my response perfectly.

ricpic said...

The hormone oxytocin in females seems to relate to the female propensity to bond and trust. The flip side of that may be that rejection/disapproval creates a higher level of anxiety in females than it does in males.

former law student said...

I'm sure Danielle Steele, Georgia O'Keefe, and Phyllis Schafly believe they earned every bit of their achievements.

David said...

Oh you poor dears (again).

knox said...

Well, David, FUCK YOU!!! >sobs uncontrollably<

Bissage said...

I tried to read that piece but it got to be too painful. Was there anything in it about women being evolutionarily designed to be submissive to their husbands?

Joe said...

They didn’t believe in their own accomplishments; they felt they were scamming everyone about their skills

A very high number of managers, CEOs and high level executives I've had over the years WERE scamming everyone about their skills, though this included both men and women. (Off the top of my head, the two worse phonies were men, but the next two on my list were women. One difference, though, is that the men could be rather charming while the women were total bitches.)

David said...

Knox, I feel so rejected. It's painful. Brings up so many issues I thought I had settled.

TMink said...

Joan, you are so welcome. I was pissed, it showed! I am glad it did not come across as a total rant and had some substance to it.

Trey

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Who wrote that? A 16 year old future angry studies student? The logic and flow were terrible.

On the point, though, I don't find the "imposter syndrome" too hard to believe, because many high-acheivement-type women just don't have the models to follow that really clue them in to whether or not they're doing things the way they should.

For example, I'm a law clerk (for you non-lawyer types, that means I'm fresh out of law school and have a short term gig assisting a judge with research and writing, rather than going straight to practicing law). One of the things that I am really trying to do during this time is watch attorneys in action and learn from them. While I am certain that I can learn from male attorneys as well as females, it really is more difficult to model things like demeanor and interactions with others (as well as dress!) when looking at male attorneys, but there are very few female attorneys that actually *do* the things that I want to watch.

Culture and presentation are important in the legal profession. I can see how not having a lot of models would leave a female attorney somewhat lacking direction, and unable to properly judge whether she is doing things "correctly." (Please understand, I'm not making excuses for sitting around and whining about it; if you're letting this hold you back I would have very little respect for you. I'm just understanding the feeling is all.)

On a related note, my pre-law school job was one where the females (most of the employees) were often struggling to keep up, mostly because they didn't work very hard (stress out over the huge about of work; spend an hour chatting with co-workers; complain about the workload; leave early to take care of the kids; etc.)

I always found the job easy, in fact, the lack of challenge was the main reason I left to go to law school. But, because I was accomplishing more and stressing so much less, I often thought that I must be doing something wrong, which would come out in time.

Again, not whining over it; there are a large variety of reasons that there are not as many female as male models that are not really anyone's fault. It's just something that we have to deal with.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Oh, and another note is that it is difficult and somewhat awkward for a women, particularly a young women, to get a true mentor if there are few women who can serve in the role. There's simply a limit to how much time a more experienced man and a young woman can spend together as compared to a young man. This again goes to lack of guidance and feedback.

But again, it is what it is. I knew I was a woman when I signed up for it.

JohnAnnArbor said...

This old Dilbert cartoon implies SOME males feel that way.

Scott M said...

In the sphere of success where things can be judged opening, ie, business, politics, etc, who's to say that it's a man's way of doing things? Could you not also argue that things are like they are because that's the way they are? There doesn't have to be some grand scheme of oppression behind it. Like everything else, things tend toward some sort of equilibrium. There is certainly a personality type very common at the highest levels of power, be that power business, political or academic.

From a societal perspective, this can be seen as very masculine, I suppose, in that it is competitive, goal-oriented, and, quite often, unforgiving. These are not qualities our culture tends to think of as feminine.

Regardless...I will say this from my own perspective and experience. Women that make it to those levels tend toward the walking stereotype of the ball-busting, humorless bitch of a boss. When viewed against the tapestry of our cultural stereotypes, this tends to evoke a masculine appearance, at least in terms of what's being discussed here.

This isn't to say one way is better or not, but it is to say that as long as things are competitive (and when wouldn't they be?), I believe we're saddled with this issue...regardless of how many ball-busting, humorless tough female leads Hollywood throws at us.

Scott M said...

Ugh -

"In the sphere of success where things can be judged opening"

Should have read, "openly", as in readily obvious by current social markers.

traditionalguy said...

Does Harvard's Larry Summers have anything to do with this article? How can evolution give the women weaker coping skills? I say women should sue for damages and make the Darwinists pay them, unless they feel too unqualified to challenge others.

Ginna said...

Of course, there's another possibility the original article didn't even address. How likely men are to answer such a survey question honestly? It's entirely possibly that just as many men feel like imposters, but would never admit it to anyone, especially a female psychologist. Actually, I'm not sure why these women did. If you actually follow the link to the Pinker article, you find weepy confessions by *named* women. Talk about career suicide...

The Pinker article also does not mention any studies of BOTH men and women, so I'm not sure how there is really a comparison.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ginna has a good point. On average, males and females have very different bonding tactics.

I am reminded of something I saw maybe a decade ago. Three girls, maybe 8-10 were talking. I think they had just come out of the pool. And one of them said something about peeing her pants. Then all of them related their experiences doing that at least once.

That is just not something that a bunch of guys would do. They don't bond with other males by admitting weakness. Instead, they bond through, for example, showing similar strength. If one guy can do it, the other one has to claim the ability to do such. They may bond through shared experiences (such as my bonding with one guy last summer by sharing high school ski racing stories - got an invite today for a ski trip with him and his friends). But those stories almost never show that much weakness.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that it is more though than bonding through weakness with women. Males are typically stronger (and bonded with other men, are even stronger) than women. Women then cannot compete directly with males in terms of strength (on average, of course). So, women display weakness to men to turn off the men's aggressive reflexes.

This is supposedly part of why men prefer blonds, and women do not have facial hair (and typically remove it when they do). Blond hair is a childhood trait, as is a lack of facial hair. So, women are essentially mimicking children to turn off male aggression.

That said, I think that the idea that Ginna had is probably more accurate. Girl World and Boy World are very different. In Girl World, excelling can get you ostracized from the group. Or, at least boasting about it can. I don't know how many times I have seen girls downplay their successes with their peers. They just got lucky getting that A, or that 800 on their SATs, that sort of thing.

It can get rather humorous when this interacts with Boy World, where the mode is boasting. I remember some maneuvering where a girl would work it so that a friend would expose that she (the first girl) had done much better than some guy who had been boasting, to put him in his place, without violating Girl World restrictions on boasting.

So, I think that maybe outward success in, for example, business, politics, etc., may violate to some extent Girl World rules, where you don't stick out and make the other girls feel bad.

I am not saying that girls/women don't compete fiercely and that they don't often try to make other girls/women feel inferior or bad. It is that this competition is not done in the same way as boys, where outward success in an endeavor is advantageous in that competition.

Bruce Hayden said...

For example, I'm a law clerk (for you non-lawyer types, that means I'm fresh out of law school and have a short term gig assisting a judge with research and writing, rather than going straight to practicing law).

Notice how she downplays this. What she isn't telling you is that clerking is only really open to the top students just graduated from law school. (Except for this year) it typically doesn't mean that the recent grad cannot get a job, so is working as an underpaid clerk for a year or two after LS. Rather, clerks are burnishing their resumes, and will typically end up with even better jobs than if they hadn't clerked. (This year, because of the recession, many clerkships saw a 5x or 10x application rate increase in comparison with previous years - for example some appeals court positions had better than 1,000 applications).

It was a big deal that Chief Justice John Roberts had clerked for his predecessor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Combined with having been chief editor of the Harvard Law Review, this meant that he was literally the best of the best.

My boss clerked for Judge Giles Rich, who was one of three drafters of the 1952 Patent Act. In the patent world, this may even be better than having clerked for a Supreme Court Justice. All of his bar admissions are signed by Rich, even his CA admission. He routinely makes his clerkship known to other attorneys, esp. patent attorneys, 30 years later. And he does this to any patent attorney he wants to dominate or put in his place.

So, not to be picking on lyssalovelyredhead, but I think that she showed an example of how females are not nearly as forthright about their successes as their male brethren.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Bruce, you make me blush! But you make a good point; I did actually think about including something about clerking being somewhat prestigious*, but wound up leaving it out.

With regards to what you were saying about females competing, I would say that for us, it is probably even more fierce, because we have to walk such a fine line about how we present it (at least, we do if we don't want to be ostracized by the other gals).

* I know I'm downplaying again, but, to be fair, I actually did take the clerkship because of an inability to find a firm job that I wanted. I was near the top of my class; I guess I just had bad luck and didn't get offers from my summer jobs (as Bruce noted, it's a weird year). My clerkship is at a local, trial level, and they recruited late in the year (which is unusual), but they do look for the best of what's left at that time.

-Lyssa

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Also, with regards to female competition, I'd argue that some, not all, but some, of the reason that folks get so batty about Sarah Palin is because she doesn't downplay or act modest about her acheivements, like a woman is supposed to do.

How many times have you heard a leftist woman complain that her main problem is that Palin doesn't pay proper deference or thanks to the feminist activists who went before her? I've heard that one a lot on Slate and Double X, among others.

-Lyssa