Sugar and Spice Meet Snakes and Snails

If little girls are “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice” and little boys are “Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails” …..what are women to do when they grow up to find out those “Puppy Dog Tails” are running our companies and signing our paychecks? How do we prove to the our bosses that sugar and spice is good for business? She is NOT snakes and snails but she is the exact person for the job!

Let’s face it. Women didn’t create the marketplace. The first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Economics was as late as 2009, Elinor Ostrom and only 5.3 % of Fortune 1000 CEO’s are women. Because women were not at the table when free market game was created we have been asking/demanding for exceptions and inclusion ever since.

First, we had to demand the right to vote. Then it was equal pay for equal work. Then came employment protection for pregnant women. Then unpaid family medical leave. And more recently in Minnesota, we demanded the right to share wage information with colleagues in the hopes of finding out whether or not we are paid as much as the guys.

Exceptions, exceptions, exceptions to the marketplace rules! And then a conversation is overheard by two IBM executives over the dilemma of hiring a woman who might become pregnant and leave some day. And that was 3 months ago! The realization that despite all these rules, women are still sugar and spice in a market place created by snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.

So whats a nice girl like you to do in a marketplace like this?

Do what we do best. Be nice!

Yes that’s right. We stick to our sugar and spice nice and turn on the charm.

There is enough research that shows that women who take on masculine styles of communication are not tolerated. B…..word comes to mind. Why? Because the sugar and spice social norm is the expectation. It is the rule…not the exception.

The next time you, female executive in waiting, attend a leadership meeting, I suggest you bring some apple pie. The next time you meet a colleague for coffee ask if he wants cream in it. Then stir, stir, stir, all the while dazzling him with your analysis of fourth quarter sales figures. The next time you talk to your boss about your performance show her how the company benefits from your smooth talking, customer saving, collaborative approach to problem solving. Which, by the way, is much deserving of a 25% pay increase.

And, may I suggest the Honey Crisp variety of apple this time of year.

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