The Wall Street Journal has just published its Women in the Workplace series, this time focusing on a new study by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co., that found men and women see equality at the office differently. Put simply, "women see a work in progress where men view it as mission accomplished."
That's a problem for LeanIn.org Founder Sheryl Sandberg, who graces the cover of the series. Sandberg has made it her mission to remedy what she considers America's greatest injustice: that there are more men than women at the top of the corporate ladder.
"Last year's report concluded that we were 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite. A year later, we're not much closer—and that is not just bad for women, it's bad for our companies and our economy," wrote Sandberg. "Women are still underrepresented at every corporate level and hold less than 30% of roles in senior management."
In response to this so-called problem, the Wall Street Journal produced an exhaustive list of articles geared toward understanding why there are so few women at the top and how we as a society can fix that. At no point in the series do you read anything about the personal desires of women and men, or of how those desires factor in to how people structure their lives. At no point do you read that the sexes are different and thus want different things out of life. Admitting as much would ruin Sandberg's lofty goal: "a world where half our homes are run by men and half our institutions are run by women."
That, to Sandberg & Co.—Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Emma Watson, etc.—would represent true gender equality.
Maybe so (if that's now one chooses to define equality), but what we have instead represents what men and women want—and that's all that matters. The original goal of equality was equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
The obvious obstacle to Sandberg's utopia is human nature. In Sandberg's world, biological proclivities are completely ignored. Rather, she believes the small number of female leaders is a result of systemic problems that must be overcome and has thus committed her life, and her whopping net worth, to fixing them. What a futile endeavor!
And then there's this: Why should having more women running our institutions be a goal in the first place? Life for most women—perhaps not Sandberg, but that's not society's problem—is multi-faceted. We want more out of life than money, power, or prestige. In fact, for most women those values barely register.
"C-suite positions are grand if those are one's life goals," writes author and psychologist Susan Pinker. "But what if other values are front-and-center for many women? What if we shift our lens from money to measures of personal happiness, feelings of belonging, personal health, and the health and well-being of children? When we do that it, becomes clear that women in many industrialized nations are still stymied—not necessarily by the patriarchy—but by the expectation that they should 'lean in,' and always choose what a man would, whether it's a STEM career or the number of hours one wants to consecrate to it."
Indeed, the truth about "gender equality" is that its goal is in opposition to a life well lived. It cares not about the state or quality of our relationships at home but only about a numbers game.
That's why the revolution has stalled: Most women don't want what Sandberg is selling.
No amount of money she spends, and no amount of ink wasted in the Wall Street Journal, is going to change that fact.
Suzanne Venker (@SuzanneVenker) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is an author, Fox News contributor, and trustee of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Her fifth book, "The Alpha Female's Guide to Men & Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS," was published in February.
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