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Why I Admire Women

by Alf Nucifora

Coming from a marketing and communications background, I've had the privilege of working with females as superiors, subordinates and peers, and quite frankly, I like working with them as business associates more than I do males. Let me assure you that this opinion is in no way driven by a weakened testosterone level or otherwise loss of manliness. I just prefer working with women. In the main, they're brighter, more creative, infinitely more loyal and trustworthy, better listeners, less petulant, and less prone to questionable decision-making, which is often a by-product of ego run amok. That seems to happen a lot with men in business. Been there myself, in fact. So what if they cry more frequently. I know more than few guys who would benefit mightily from the release that comes from shedding an occasional tear.

Yet from an historical perspective, American society and culture has always demeaned the role and value of women. It may never have been as bad as the radical Islamists would like to have it, but it reeks of inferior status none-the-less. At the extreme, women have suffered a slew of indignities, beginning with lack of suffrage, anti-ERA extremism, fundamentalist evangelicals who, under Biblical authority, demand subordination of wife to husband, extremist pro-life politicians in outposts like South Dakota who deem a mother's life of less value than that of an unborn child, not to mention the law courts that for so long adjudged the heinous crime of rape as much the result of a woman's so called innate sluttishness as the singular fault of the male predator. I'm still not too sure that Hugh Heffner did all that much for female emancipation either, other than to create a new ideal for American womanhood and every college boy's fantasy, based on blond hair, pneumatic breasts and a languid pose.

At its more benign level, if one can ever consider subjugation benign, the inferior status of women has played out, and continues to do so in lower pay for equal work, a glass ceiling that has risen in height but still remains intact, and a fear of the "strength" of women that is evidenced in the both the corporate world and the community-at-large by rituals and practices that defy logic or fairness. Paging Augusta National?

Have Hope All Ye Who Wear a Dress

If you're a woman, you must have hope. The tide is turning and proof abounds. The news headlines advise us that the Dixie Chicks are winning ultimate victory in a battle against an adversary that never respected a contrarian's viewpoint, more so if it came from the lips of a woman. Chicks from Dixie are expected to toe the line. Yet even within the reactionary space of the Country-Western music world, three brash, smart-ass minstrels prevailed, if climbing to # 1 on the album charts still counts. Who would have thought?

"Hillary for President!" One can hear the bile gurgling, see the steam hissing from the ears of angry, red-faced white males ready to charge the ramparts the moment she declares. The perfidy of the woman! The pundits proclaim her to be a polarizing force that will rupture the Democratic Party and lead the party to ruination. They may be right. But even those who hate her have to acknowledge a superior intellect, a driving ambition and pro's instinct for playing the political game. Let's face it, competence-wise, a Hillary Clinton administration couldn't be any worse than the one that currently leases the White House. Irrespective of the candidate, it's about time we accepted a woman as a legitimate role model for the Presidency, capable of providing bold vision and competent administration for the nation instead of being viewed as a token minority to neatly fill out the ticket in a Vice-Presidential role.

On the marketing front, women now claim the crown and mantle as primary influencer, instigator or decision-maker for most consumer-buying decisions, from appliances to apparel to high-end purchases associated with everything from the highway to the home. In some categories, they outpace males 3:1 as the beginning and ending words when it comes to what to buy.

In the nation's colleges and universities, women are at last claiming spaces in the classrooms. In law, medical and business schools, the percentage of female students is beginning to approach parity with the population at large. As for society in general, astute observers have noted that the community is growing increasingly tired of conservative mores cynically legislated by politicians who aim to disinter June Cleaver and her fifties cocoon, apron and all. While one can never argue against the need and desire for an America where the family is cherished and values that nurture the commonweal are taught in school and practiced in the home, the reality is that America in 2006 is a changed place where women in greater numbers live alone by choice, and where the married household can no longer be supported by dad's income alone. Mom has had to become the other half of the "dual income household" equation.

Expect change, too, on the business management front. As rebellion finally takes hold in the boardroom and shareholder revolt becomes more prevalent, women will inevitably capture more of the power that has been traditionally guarded and swapped by the alpha males. Be prepared for a C-suite taken over by the C-sweeties. And why not? Hierarchical management practices of yesteryear, primarily the province of a male mindset will be forced to adapt to the realities of a new world, where a center-out, centrarchical management style, that which lives naturally within the female personality, is best suited to meet the needs of employee team and task force structures of the twenty first century. Those business sectors which require collegiality and congeniality as nutrients for sustenance, will accept female leadership more readily, even, embrace it. Here we are dealing with the "software" of business and commerce, fields such as consulting, communications, entertainment, law, accounting and the professions… activity associated with what America is already becoming, the imperial ruler of the information age.

In other areas, the female march will be slower and suffer more casualties. Think here of old-line financial services, politics, manufacturing and some elements of technology. The boys who attend Herb Allen's Sun Valley enclave, preach at Davos and occupy the corner CEO suites within the Fortune 500 will be slow to give up power. But they can't cheat death. You have to be patient, ladies, for just a while longer. You're already outperforming the guys in entrepreneurial activity, so we know that you can do it. We appreciate the fact that you work just as hard, if not harder. So get a plan, stay focused, and let the business world come to you. Inevitably, they'll wake up to the fact that you're up to the task, that when necessary, career and cradle can be managed with equal finesse. And it probably wouldn't hurt to play a little golf. Remember, you don't always beat the boys by dissing their rituals and eradicating their privileges. Sometimes the best way to win the game is to play the game.

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