How Feminism Holds Women Back from High Achievement


We live in an era when females outperform males on average at a wide range of routine tasks, such as coloring within the lines, turning homework in on time, graduating from high school and college, not going to jail, pulling together marketing plans, not dying, and the like.

When the culture decided around 1964 to stop propagandizing in favor of “self-discipline” and start propagandizing against “conformism,” the less naturally conformist sex, males, followed, which led some to be rock stars and led others to be jailbirds or burnouts (and some to be both).

The more naturally conformist sex, females, tended to keep on keeping on, although there was a striking shift in 1969 in propaganda about what females should conform to: from homemaking to working for large organizations.

But 45 years into the latest era of feminist domination of the Megaphone, men continue to outperform women at most of the highest levels of achievement, which constitutes a crisis about which we need to be updated constantly.

Now, here’s a sensible suggest: that to do better at the highest levels, women need to respond to criticism more objectively. But of course, this nugget of good sense is buried under lots of feminism victimology and You Go Girlisms. Much of the appeal of feminism is that it encourages women to do what they always felt like doing anyway: take everything personally. But to succeed at the highest level, you need some objectivity, which feminism hates. Feminists see objective reality as a conspiracy out to make them feel bad about themselves.

Learning to Love Criticism
By TARA MOHR SEPT. 27, 2014

A NEW study by the linguist and tech entrepreneur Kieran Snyder, done for Fortune.com, found two differences between workplace performance reviews given to men and women. Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

The study speaks to the impossible tightrope women must walk to do their jobs competently and to make tough decisions while simultaneously coming across as nice to everyone, all the time. But the findings also point to something else: If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself. She must develop a way of experiencing criticism that allows her to persevere in the face of it.

And yet, many women don’t have that tool kit. In my coaching practice and training courses for women, I often encounter women who don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of dependence on praise or fears of criticism.

Many women are aware of this problem. “I know I need a thicker skin, but I have no idea how to get it,” one woman, a consultant to small businesses, said to me.

Criticism stings for all of us, but women have been socialized to not rock the boat, to be, above all else, likable. By the time a girl reaches adolescence, she’ll most likely have watched hundreds of films, television shows and advertisements in which a woman’s destiny is determined not by her own choices but by how she is perceived by others. In those hundreds of stories, we get the message: What other people think and say about us matters, a lot.

Feminism’s control of the Megaphone hasn’t failed, it just hasn’t been tried hard enough!

… Add to this history what we see in our time: Powerful women tend to receive overreactive, shaming and inappropriately personal criticism. …

Finally, we get to some actual, you know, criticism of women:

In the context of these influences, what allows women to become free of concerns about the reactions they or their work will provoke? I’ve found that the fundamental shift for women happens when we internalize the fact that all substantive work brings both praise and criticism. Many women carry the unconscious belief that good work will be met mostly — if not exclusively — with praise. Yet in our careers, the terrain is very different: Distinctive work, innovative thinking and controversial decisions garner supporters and critics, especially for women. We need to retrain our minds to expect and accept this.

Also, you need to retrain your mind to admit that your innovative thinking and controversial decision might be, you know, wrong. To be a high performer, you have to go further out on the risk-reward curve. You’ll make more mistakes than if you cautiously stick to the tried and true, and you’ll be criticized for your mistakes.

There are a number of effective ways to do this. A woman can identify another woman whose response to criticism she admires. In challenging situations, she can imagine how the admired woman might respond, and thereby see some new possible responses for herself. It can be helpful to read the most negative and positive reviews of favorite female authors, to remind ourselves of the divergent reactions that powerful work inspires.

Women can also benefit from interpreting feedback as providing information about the preferences and point of view of the person giving the feedback, rather than information about themselves. In other words, a negative reaction from five investors doesn’t tell a woman anything about the quality of her business idea or her aptitude for entrepreneurship; it just tells her something about what those investors are looking for.

This is a funny example of how feminism encourages women to do what they always felt like doing: interpret everything personally and subjectively. Do you really think Peter Thiel or Paul Graham would tell a man that five investors dismissing his start-up idea “doesn’t tell a [man] anything about the quality of [his] business idea” but instead is just about the investors’ peculiarities? Successful masculine thinking deals both with subjective realities and objective realities, such as that my idea might be objectively no good, or, at minimum, needs major improvements. And maybe there is something that investors don’t like about me? Can I improve that aspect of my performance? Or maybe I should get a partner who is a better front man?

The most successful men in Silicon Valley neither dismiss criticism of their proposals as merely the subjective preferences of the critics nor do they accept criticism as crushing permanent proof that they are worthless human beings who will never ever come up with a good idea. Obviously, maintaining your subjective self-confidence while being objective about your ideas is difficult to do. Most men can’t, but more men than women can, which is one reason why the high end of Silicon Valley is dominated by men.

Looking back on a lifetime of feminism dominance of the media, I can recall distant eras when certain feminists tried to be logical, but those attempts alienated other feminists. So, today, feminism is whatever any woman is upset about. It doesn’t have to be consistent with what other feminists are upset about. It doesn’t even have to be consistent with whatever other things that particular feminist is upset about. All that matters is that whoever is bitching about whatever claims the mantle of Team Women.