Hello, kids! Today we’re going to learn about discrimination in the business world.
I’m usually annoyed by this entrepreneurial class, but mostly I find it ridiculous. I happen to always get interested in things I don’t know or understand, so I thought this course would be useful in understanding how businesses are made and unmade, meet entrepreneurs and broaden my leftist views on finance and marketing.
Not so much.
The problem is twofold: on the one hand you have a class which seems obsessed with money, power, prestige, things that are not on top of my priority lists. On the other hand you have a teacher who is gifted with a giant ego. After he ran the New York marathon, he started our class with a power point presentation of how he had done as “a metaphor on business”. He looks down on researchers. (Stupid, since technical innovation is a huge motor of business creation, but hey! He’s the one who did Harvard Business School, I’m just a lowly lit girl.)He keeps boasting about his success as an entrepreneur.
Last week’s class summed up my problem in a nutshell. Topic: women in business. Numbers: pretty bad. In France, only 1% of business administrators are women, as opposed to 4% in the USA. The usual power point crap: a giant graph showing how many women have a top rank in France’s biggest firms.
“This is shocking,” says the teacher, strutting around the class room. “I mean, it’s understandable that no women belong to [Huge Aeronautics Company] or [Giant Arms Dealer]. But it’s very surprising that there are no women working for [Big Food Industry] or [World Famous Cosmetics Company]. “
My hand shoots up.
« So what you’re saying is that women can only understand baby food and makeup ?”
“I knew someone would overreact during this class, it happens every year. You don’t have to take everything so personally.”
Another hand shoots up, my neighbour’s, an accountant major.
“How many women work in your company?”
Teacher looks vexed. My neighbour is a man, so he can’t accuse him of being an overreacting woman.
“Only one, but my company is focused on sport and the internet, so it’s not very interesting for women.”
The worse part of this class is that a few people came to see me at the end to ask me why I had been so aggressive with the teacher. “He’s trying to highlight the problem.”
But he also is the problem. His sexism is so deeply ingrained, he doesn’t even realize how sexist he is. There are about 50 women attending this seminar, and only one reacted, the one who won’t become an entrepreneur.