Not surprisingly, the two women most quoted on the matter of whether women should golf—Leslie Andrews and Adrienne Wax—have written an entire book about it: Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business. So, yes, they are the experts on the topic; they are also likely interested in promoting their book. Oh, and Andrews is a golf instructor. A contextual disclaimer of sorts is made in Steinberg's piece: First, it's not about the golf, per se:
Steinberg continues, "like it or not, corporate retreats, business meetings and social events with clients tend to take place on the golf course." There's no backup to this point; presumably we're only talking certain careers here? She goes on, "Women comprise one fifth of the 25.7 million U.S. golfers counted in a 2011 survey, according to data provided by the National Golf Foundation. Andrews and Wax want to add to that figure because they believe golfing enables a boss or client to see a woman as a human being worthy of a relationship, not just a number-cruncher sitting at a desk."
Andrews and Wax want there to be more women golfers, fine. But are we to assume that clients and male bosses are so limited in vision and humanity that they can't see women as "human beings worthy of relationships" if they don't get on the golf course together? Further, while it's fine to suggest to women and men that they might attempt to network in the places their bosses frequent, how often are those places the golf course, anyway? The golf course may be a traditional networking spot for folks of a particular job or socio-economic level, like, say, CEOs, a "club" of which very few women are members. But that's a position the majority of guys aren't filling either.
As for likely spots to network, this writer has never known a boss to golf—in journalism, for one, the more likely spot is the bar. Yet none of these career advice pieces seem to recommend having some beers with the boss as a way to "get ahead." That's not bad advice, if you do it the right way. Andrews does say, of her recommendation, "it's as simple as being where the people are." So how about, stop pushing golf (there are 7 sports "more popular" in the U.S.A., according to recent stats
), and just say, network in the right place for your job and you?
The contrasting piece to "Yes, Ladies You DO Need to Play Golf" is a New York Times article by Shaila Dewan and Robert Gebeloff
that explains how faced with a job market in which many of the traditional opportunities for men without degrees have dried up, more men are turning to jobs once considered the "province of women." This includes jobs like dental assistants, hygienists, nurses, teachers, bank tellers, and so on. Write Dewan and Gebeloff
“The way I look at it,” Mr. Alquicira explained, without a hint of awareness that he was turning the tables on a time-honored feminist creed, “is that anything, basically, that a woman can do, a guy can do.”
A Times analysis of census data from 2000 to 2010 showed that in that time period "occupations that are more than 70 percent female accounted for almost a third of all job growth for men, double the share of the previous decade." However, "that does not mean that men are displacing women — those same occupations accounted for almost two-thirds of women’s job growth."
More than a third of men turning to such jobs now also have college degrees, a fact that some chalk up to the recession and others say simply reflects a decreased stigma as well as, well, maybe these jobs are just more satisfying. That all sounds like progress. On the less progressive side, men still earn more than women "even in female-dominated jobs" (this can lead to raised wages for everyone, though as of yet does not appear to) and are more likely to become supervisors.
There's a lot at work and a lot still unknown, but what we can take away for now is that men and women and their various careers are far more complicated than any standard algorithm. That men are embracing jobs once deemed "female" isn't guaranteed to lead to workplace equality. But neither will a woman embracing golf. We're all smarter than to assume that at this point, aren't we?