Inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal piece titled "Nine Rules Women Must Follow to Get Ahead," by Julie Steinberg, we compiled a list of eight other articles that journalists should stop writing because they are sexist, cliched, problematic, undermining to women, or simply bad. The piece that ensued, "Nine Articles 'for Women' That Journalists Should Stop Writing," (Steinberg's article being the first of nine) seemed to resonate, with going-on 40 comments at the time of this post and 509 tweets.
Wednesday, Allison Lichter wrote a new "rules in the workplace" piece on The Journal's work issues blog, The Juggle, a response to the original "Nine Rules" piece, which clearly resonated as well: "It’s currently in the top 5 most-read articles on wsj.com, and, as you can imagine, provoked a range of responses," writes Lichter. (Responses include criticisms of it as a rehash of things known, disappointment about its overt sexism, and the point we made, that these weren't really rules for women specifically at all). Lichter continues in this new post by asking, "Are there different rules for men and women at work?"
Of course, that's a rhetorical question, and if it's a defense of a piece heavily reliant on stereotypes and old-fashioned thinking about women "playing ball" in a man's world, it's not much of a defense at all. Really, women should do the work no one else wants to do, and pick up golf, and wear power-suits? Let's discuss, how are the "rules" different for men!? But maybe it's less of a defense than a tempering, or even just an attempt to keep the conversation going over this unexpected minefield (the original piece seemed so much a rote "career rules" piece that we wouldn't even guess it had been trolling). Lichter writes that men themselves had a problem with the piece, saying the rules applied to them just as much as they did to women. Another commenter wrote that women who wanted careers should marry men willing to be house-husbands—er, OK.
Funnily enough, Lichter doesn't really buy all the rules, either. She writes,
As for me, I don’t plan to learn to play golf anytime soon, or change my personal interests and hobbies in the hope of getting ahead of my field. I don’t think I need to do that, thankfully, to progress in my current career.
She goes on to relay her own story, in which a senior person she worked with told her to stop working so hard doing the grunt work that wouldn't get her noticed and instead to show up at meetings, to be a part of big projects, and to focus on getting noticed, promoted, and a raise. She says, of this lesson, yes, you should "work hard"—but "on the right things."
Now, if journalists would continue to write this sort of real, genuine, non-rote and actually applicable advice (not for "women" per se but for everyone) instead of the stock "Nine Rules Women Must Follow to Get Ahead," we might actually be getting somewhere.
Image via Shutterstock by Demid Borodin.
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