Glad to hear you took a pain pill and I hope you continue to feel better. I’m publishing something tomorrow that talks more about what we can do around all of this in the here and now and how that movement is already well afoot, in the business world, in particular. I think if we have any hope of shifting our society it’s going to be by demonstrating that a less domination-based culture is actually better for the bottom line. I believe I already sent you the link for The Center for Partnership Studies which is doing a lot of good, concrete work around this on the international level, but there are others who are working on this on a large scale as well.

I appreciate hearing from you as always, but you’ve done some conflating of hierarchies of competence (who gets picked for a team first, although sometimes that is also less about skill and more about who is popular, so social hierarchy) and hierarchies of domination, which has very little to do with actually earning a place through achievement or merit, but rather by brutality and the subjugation of others, often by keeping a monopoly on historical power. The fact that we had laws up until about 50 years ago that specifically kept women and blacks from having the chance to compete on merit speaks volumes. Even though those laws have been repealed, the penumbra of them still pervades much of our culture.

Who was interested in dating you may have been about social hierarchy or it may have been about chemistry or some blend of the two. Some women care more about status and some care less, but if you look out the window you will see all shapes and sizes of people who are paired up.

STEM is a notoriously toxic place for women to work because quite often domination hierarchy elements are in play. Even in engineering schools, women are harassed, demeaned and made to largely feel unwelcome. My friend, who was a chemical engineer, told me about some of the horrible stuff she faced early in her career. She did eventually earn the respect of the men around her, but that kind of bullying is domination in action and it’s for the purposes of telling women that they have gotten out of their lane. Here is just one article about that, but there are thousands of them out there.

“A peer-reviewed study of harassment and assault experiences in the scientific field found that 71% of the women surveyed were sexually harassed while conducting fieldwork and 25% were sexually assaulted. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“To be told for so much of your life that you are wanted in these fields and then to show up and made to feel profoundly unwelcome, I think is really — it’s a terrible thing we do to people,” Springmann said.

And it cuts right at their confidence.”

When #MeToo broke and we all got a clearer picture of just how pervasive sexual harassment is in many, many places of work and what a huge percentage of women have experienced it at egregious levels, it was shocking — even to those of us who knew that this takes place. I am not kidding when I say that I do not know of a woman of any age, political stripe, geographic area, etc. who has not had some experience with this. Every single woman I have ever talked to about this has multiple stories. My mom recently told me some of hers. I have never been sexually harassed at work (I’ve also not worked in an office in 25 years), but I have had pervasive experiences with it in other places in my life — which is talked about more in the story linked below.

At the bottom of that story are links to 7 other Medium stories that say pretty much the same thing, all from the personal experiences of women, except for the first one that was written by a man that I think adds a valuable perspective. So, are women making progress in the working world? Yes and no. There are more CEOs of major companies named John than there are CEOs who are female. Harassment, which is a dominance posture, is still pervasive in many places. Women still get called out for being too assertive and yet can also suffer if they are not assertive enough. The US is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not offer comprehensive parental leave.

My friend Lorelei Weldon (my sister from another mother 😁) wrote something about the ultra-competitive atmosphere within most law firms and how that has led the legal profession to top the list for suicide, depression, substance abuse, and general unhappiness. One can’t help but think that it would help the bottom line if more lawyers worked in a more collegial and less antagonistic atmosphere within their firms.

I could write a book about this stuff, but I guess I very nearly have here…. Domination-based hierarchy is literally killing us (men in particular), it is destroying our planet, and it’s not really a productive business model. It’s going to take a lot of continued work to turn the tide towards partnership-based structures, but I think the time is ripe for it. We either sink into Trumpesque totalitarianism, or we use that as a wake-up call for how business-as-usual was only good for a small number of elites at the apex of the hierarchy and figure out how to do better. I think it could go either way, but I am hopeful.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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