Alison, this is rather a wild leap. Let's put aside for a moment the fear
that some men may have of women taking over the corner offices or the
subway seats. It's been only about what, 30 years since the major changes
in the demographics of both business schools and corporate offices began.
In that time admissions to US business schools by women have multiplied
astronomically. 30% of business school graduates are now women (I looked it
up), up from nearly zilch (44% in law, dentistry and medicine, which may be
why I have a woman lawyer, a woman dentist, and a woman dermatologist ). 11
women are now ceos of Fortune 1000 companies (we're talking ebay, Hewlett
Packard, Ogilvy Mather), and 10% of Fortune 1000 companies report that at
least one quarter of their corporate officers are women. That's double
what it was 5 years ago. But hey, I'm a poet, and my interest in the world
of business, and my research time, is limited.
The Fortune 1000 is a list of the 1000 richest companies in the world put
out annually by the US business magazine Fortune. These companies rule the
Why these changes and the greater changes in this direction that will
inevitably happen? Perhaps because those who have been afraid of this are
getting older and retiring, perhaps because of the women's movement, and
perhaps also because of trends in fertility: women of the classes that tend
to produce business executives now on average have about 1.5 kids, and more
than half of them are girls, and those women also tend to work outside the
home. The ruling class and its proximate servants simply have less and less
choice in the matter if they want to keep the goodies in the family.
As to the subway, I don't challenge Delaney's numbers, although, if he's
talking about New York, they're counterintuitive. Women make up 50% of the
workforce, and in New York only those working very locally (who can take
buses or walk) or with considerable resources (because they can get to work
by taxi or private car) don't take the subway every morning (I've left out
the bike riders). So unless vast numbers of women, far more than the census
suggests, are unemployed or work in the home, one has to wonder.
I also wonder about the methodology, and its interpretation. Like Delaney I
have always assumed that the numbers in the subway crowd are about equal.
My perception may be distorted not by fear but by the fact that as a
straight man I tend to notice women more than I notice men, but really, the
subway crowd is too dense to notice much beyond three or four people. We're
talking intimate contact. So the reasonable assumption that the numbers
are more or less equal is usually untestable, rather than the product of
unconscious fears or bias.
But he made the effort presumably to stand apart and count, tho it's hard
to imagine the vantage point.
Or maybe he's not counting at rush hour. It would be much easier to count
at other hours. I have no trouble believing that women make up a far
smaller percentage of those riders who don't have to ride to get to work.
Depending upon time and location fear enters in--few women voluntarily
travel alone on the subway at night, for instance, and the slowness of
buses or the less-than-daily expense of a cab on a night out become less of
I'd also like to know how many stations he observed. The West Village rush
hour crowd I would expect has more women riders than say the East
Village--the demographics of the neighborhoods are different.
So before the world accepts the discovery of a new psychological mechanism
maybe we should determine if the variables have been thought through and
the study results are replicable.
Look, of course there are great inequities--the continuing inequities are
there in the numbers I cited. One's awareness of them doesn't excuse one
from a degree of rigor. And one should be especially careful when the
apparent facts are especially gratifying to one's preconceptions.
At 06:15 AM 5/7/2003 +1000, you wrote:
>At 8:07 AM -0600 5/6/03, Douglas Barbour wrote:
>>I am reminded of a comment by Samuel R Delany, quite some time ago, a gay,
>>black, writer who had taken up ideas from feminism, & thought he was
>>'onside'. He noted that he unconsciously assumed that the numbers of women
>>& men in a crowd waiting for a subway car were equal, but decided one day
>>to count & was rather horrified to find that the percengages were about 15%
>>women to 85% men. SO he set himself to truly 'see' what was in front of his
>>eyes. After some tie & effort, when he thought the numbers were equal,
>>there were about 40% women to 60% men. He did make the connection to the
>>phenomenom Alison mentions above, when a single ceo of a major company may
>>be seen as 'they're taking over!'
>That is _very_ interesting, Doug. It has often puzzled me, that
>perception; it has seemed that the mere presence of a woman where she
>"should not" be can be enough to rouse these strange territorial
>reactions and claims of an exaggerated presence among some men, which
>I have assumed to be polemical or triggered by a defensiveness.
>Delany's experience suggests some deeper question of actual
>perception. That when men say "they are taking over" they are not
>exaggerating, they are reporting what they perceive!
>It's quite disturbing.