Clay Shirky’s rant on women (in the workplace)

We employ a lot of women – it wasn’t deliberate, although if I am allowed to generalise a bit I suspect the work we do means that qualities associated with the female of the species are particularly useful in our line of work. In addition, through sensible and pragmatic employment policies (e.g. treating people like adults) we’ve tripped over a huge untapped pool of talent who can’t seem to get decent, rewarding jobs which fit around their domestic circumstances. (as an aside – why is it almost always mothers who are expected to sacrifice their working life for childcare??).

Anyway, Clay Shirky posted this rant on how women rarely put themselves forward. He ends with:

What I do know is this: it would be good if more women see interesting opportunities that they might not be qualified for, opportunities which they might in fact fuck up if they try to take them on, and then try to take them on. It would be good if more women got in the habit of raising their hands and saying “I can do that. Sign me up. My work is awesome,” no matter how many people that behavior upsets.

Very much so!

I find it interesting how men can often over-exagerate their abilities and contributions (and need a dose of unwelcome reality), where as most women actually need to be told explicitly that they really are quite capable and even good at what they do.

There are few things that I view as being crucial to Amphora’s competitive advantage, which are blindingly obvious to us but seem to be totally uncopyable by so many other companies:

  • Hire the right people, and treat them like adults. Don’t employ people you have to treat like children.
  • Most “Working Mums” would jump at a fulfilling responsible job, as long as you take the relatively easy steps to make sure they can work around their childcare responsibilities.
  • Apple Macs are really so much better and cheaper to own than Windows machines – and people enjoy using them more too.

The only problem we consistently get is that a lot of working Mums won’t apply for jobs because they don’t think any employer would be able to accommodate them. So they search Monster for tedious part-time admin jobs and never even see our jobs even though they’ve got “Mum friendly” pasted all over them. Which is similar to Clay’s underlying point.