I am woman hear me roar

This year marks 40 years since International Women’s Year and 30 years since the end of the momentous United Nations ‘Decade For Women’. Luckily, these events were all it took to bring those of us with two X chromosomes on par with those fortunate enough to have a ‘Y’ in the mix. Oh. Wait. Not so much.

According to results of study published in the New York Times last weekend, fewer large U.S. companies are run by women than by men named John. Further, of the 1,500 companies included in the Standard and Poor’s index, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James for every woman sitting behind (as opposed to outside) the chief executive office door.

Certainly one thing that jumps out here is the unoriginal naming convention for boys. Over the past 100 years the top five names for boys have been James, John, Robert, Michael and William. (I’m guessing Michaels tend to be slackers since they don’t show up as much on the CEO list.) People take much more creative license when naming girls, with flagrant disregard for how that name might look when appended with ‘Vice President of Finance’ (parents of LaToya, Krystal, and Tifanni I’m talking to you.) Ironically, I think North West will make out quite well in that department since everyone will think she is a man (and she may well need this ‘leg up’ because of course by that time Kim and Kanye will be yesterday’s news both for the gossip rags and their respective revenue streams.)

But of course we know it’s conformity that is the real ticket. Those Jims, Bobs and Bills are most comfortable with their own kind. One of the things aspiring female executives are advised to do is learn to play golf. That’s because the guys get a lot of ‘work’ done on the golf course. The theory is that if you can join the game you can compete in it. This of course is not true. The guys will humor you on the links but the real conversations will happen in the men’s room on the 19th hole. Remember the kerfuffle when Ginni Rometty became CEO of IBM and much angst ensued at the Augusta National Golf Club about whether or not they would be forced to admit her as a member? And this was in 2012. And it took them until last year to acquiesce.

Back when I was only just learning the ways of the business world, a friend and I stopped for a bathroom break on our way to class. The women’s bathroom being as it always is (yet another prevailing injustice), while we waited in line for the next available stall two older women behind us remarked on our text books, marveling that things had progressed so much that girls like ourselves could be studying corporate finance.

Fast forward to a mere five years ago, when a male subordinate told me not to worry my pretty head about the progress of an important project. There are no words.

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