Why Women Are Not At The Top (of Politics, Business, and Culture)

Women have more freedom, power, and control over their lives in the West than any group of women ever, before. Women today have more wealth, freedom, comfort, and stability than any other group of women before. And yet, still they rarely occupy the highest rungs of power, being absent from political leadership, commercial leadership, and cultural leadership. A Black man was elected President of the US before a woman. Why?

Because women won’t sacrifice the … sexiness in men. And no sexy, dominant Alpha male will put up with a woman having a career and power greater than his. That’s why they are Alpha males in the first place. For a woman to advance to the top, she has to be … Margaret Thatcher. Or Leslie Blodgett of Bare Escentuals. Or Carly Fiorina of H-P. Married to a “boring” beta male who is supportive and stays out of the spotlight.

Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times was the first to make this clear:

The biggest reason that alpha women don’t become CEOs is that they have made the common, yet fatal, error of marrying an alpha man.
My evidence for this is based on long observation of the women I know. Some of them did brilliantly for a bit, but then their careers stalled. The problem was not that they had had too many children (successful women seem to have lots of them) but that their alpha husbands insisted on putting their own careers first.
Until last week this was just a vague prejudice. But on Wednesday I sat down with the FT’s list of the 50 top business women and Googled each one, searching for information about their home lives. Annoyingly, some of them have succeeded in keeping their private lives private, but with the rest I found my theory spectacularly well borne out. Nearly all have children, but I could not find a single one with an alpha male husband.
The only whiff of an alpha mate came from the household of Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, whose husband was the CEO of Bloomingdale’s. I use the past tense not because he lost the job, but because he lost his wife – the marriage didn’t last.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi and the world’s most powerful businesswoman, is married to a man who quit his job and became a consultant to fit in with his wife and children. Ditto with Irene Rosenfeld at Kraft, whose husband decided to be self-employed 20 years ago to help her. Ditto with Ursula Burns at Xerox.
There are three pretty obvious reasons an alpha husband is a problem for the aspiring female CEO. First is logistics. If you want to be really successful you need to be mobile. You need to have a husband like Gregg Ahrendts, who wound up his construction business so Angela could move to London to be CEO of Burberry. You also need to have someone who is prepared to see the children occasionally. And above all you need a bit of encouragement. If you have spent all day competing with men at work, you don’t want to go on competing at home. You want someone like Lloyd Bean, Ursula Burns’s husband, who worked at Xerox long before she joined, but who claimed delight when his wife whizzed past him in the fast lane. Or like the husband of the Indian banking supremo Chanda Kochhar. She says he is “genuinely happy about my progress”.
The lesson for a future female corporate queen is to give more thought to her choice of spouse. She should go for someone who is mentally her match, but who is happy to play a supporting role. In other words, Mr Right should be a male Kate Middleton.
Alas, there is a problem here in both demand and supply. High-flying women are programmed to go for high-flying men. Most men aren’t attracted to women who are more successful than they are. And until those things change, there is not going to be more than the odd sprinkling of women emerging from the sticky yellow marzipan into the glorious royal icing on top.

As Business Week noted:

When Carly Fiorina became Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) first female chief executive officer, the existence of her househusband, Frank Fiorina, who had retired early from AT&T (T) to support her career, was a mini-sensation; now this arrangement isn’t at all unusual. Seven of the 18 women who are currently CEOs of Fortune 500 companies—including Xerox’s (XRX) Ursula Burns, PepsiCo’s (PEP) Indra Nooyi, and WellPoint’s (WLP) Angela Braly—have, or at some point have had, a stay-at-home husband. So do scores of female CEOs of smaller companies and women in other senior executive jobs. Others, like IBM’s (IBM) new CEO, Ginni Rometty, have spouses who dialed back their careers to become their powerful wives’ chief domestic officers.
This role reversal is occurring more and more as women edge past men at work. Women now fill a majority of jobs in the U.S., including 51.4 percent of managerial and professional positions, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Some 23 percent of wives now out-earn their husbands, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center. And this earnings trend is more dramatic among younger people. Women 30 and under make more money, on average, than their male counterparts in all but three of the largest cities in the U.S.

However, for most women, that trade-off, a supportive house-husband screams “Kitchen Bitch” and thus, poison. Most women would rather their husbands be high-flyers, than themselves. Because their reflection of self-worth is based on their sexual marketplace value (sad but true for most women, sad because that is so transient like a flower), and their sexual marketplace value is based around how much of a dominant, sexy Alpha asshole they can land.

Women don’t go further in politics because they are unwilling to marry Denis Thatcher. An amiable businessman who kept his mouth shut and loyally supported his wife. They have fantasies of being Hillary Clinton, who did not sacrifice the Alpha Asshole Male, and still got to be a Senator and Secretary of State. [This is why many women love Hillary — she got the Alpha Asshole, and the power, at least in part.]

Men who rise, mostly do so by either blind luck and opportunity, plus “seize the day” aggression and vision (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg), or grind-it-out steady rises like say, Howard Schultz generally require a supportive spouse. Business and politics are high-stress careers, and supportive advice and comfort are generally a requirement for those grinding it out, a decade at a time, to rise to the top. This is true for both men and women.

Men, more than women, tend to realize this and trade off on Alpha sexiness. This is particularly true when men are younger and less powerful, and thus less attractive to women, they will often settle and marry the best woman they can get. Sticking with her for the most part means no costly divorces, no emotional upheaval, and the perception of stability and sensibility, that boards of directors prefer. No one wants say, a Mark Hurd. A guy who is a walking lawsuit machine.

Women on the other hand, feel that settling is both a betrayal of their natures, and a slur on their very person. Saying basically that they are so ugly and unsexy that the best they can do is some “supportive” aka “kitchen bitch” beta male instead of the sexy bad boy Alpha asshole they crave.

Thus women are trading off opportunity for sex. This is entirely predictable, since eggs are expensive, and sperm cheap, women generally prefer less perceived risk and men more, comparatively speaking. Women will trade off the opportunity to become a top leader, for sexy times, most of the time.

It is the unwillingness to trade away those sexy times, in favor of beta male “kitchen bitch” supportiveness, that keeps women from occupying half or more of the CEO suites, upper reaches of political leadership, and the cultural power centers (such as directing, producing, and so on). Rising up that way requires generally guys women just can’t stomach.

The goal of feminists is to have it all — the sexy bad boys AND the power. Like most fantasies, too much of it tends to be destructive. Because real problems are never solved by ghost-dancing fantasies and fairy tales.

About whiskeysplace

Conservative blogger focusing on culture, business, technology, and how they intersect.
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14 Responses to Why Women Are Not At The Top (of Politics, Business, and Culture)

  1. Ulick Mcgee says:

    Great post. I hadn't come across this insight before.I wonder how many of the women CEO's are consciously choosing a supportive man who is their equal versus how many of the women end up with pussies because they have such forceful personalities. Right now, I suspect that we are dealing with some very clever women who can consciously control their life choices. Once this goes mainstream, however, and the less self-aware, run-of-the-mill ball breaker gets in on the game, it may become sexist for a man not to want to be a kitchen bitch. Will SWPL men line up to declare their support for this lifestyle or will TEOTWAWKI happen first? Whatever, I suspect that it won't be long before the Feminist PC multiculturalists start to hold up househusbands as the most moral men amongst us.

  2. flavia says:

    The author you quote also makes the mistake of labeling a high powered female CEO as an "alpha" woman. The female alpha is the one all the guys want…as it is with a male alpha. Power does not make the genders alpha-desirability from the opposite sex does. A very beautiful and charming poor woman is more alpha than say, Hillary Clinton. Anyway, here's the big secret as to why women are not big time politicians/CEOs. It's fucking boring. Politics is stupid, redundant, meaningless and boring. So boring. Working a corporate job is soul crushing. And since power and money really are not as important in attracting a mate for females, there is really little incentive. Men seek power and fortune for the women, not because spending 60 hours a week in "synergy" meetings or kissing ugly babies to gain some State Legislature seat for some flyover state is so appealing. Politics are stupid. Working is stupid. Why any woman would get into it is beyond me. I thank god every day I was born a woman. All I had to do was be clean, nice, choose wisely and voila. Someone just magically brings me money every day and supports me. It's a pretty sweet gig.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A very beautiful and charming *and young* poor woman is more alpha than say, Hillary Clinton.Fixed that for you.

  4. josh says:

    But Whiskey,Carly Fiorina is considered to be a psycho-bitch from hell. Meg Whitman is also said to be one who cracked up. Women are lousy leaders. Theyre dumb. Theyre lousy leaders who screw things up. They treat their subs like shit. They dont "nurture"(pun intended) the talent,reward it,guide it;in short they demand to be followed,but they dont lead. They get MASSIVE uplift from affirmative action,with companies seeking to gain publicity for having a girl leader(s),but in reality they perform poorly. (The jew Rosenfeld from Kraft does appear to be an exception…) I am reminded of the "lady" (in reality a bull dyke lesbo carpet-muncher)who was put in charge of a Navy ship and ran it aground. A complete drooling idiot man-hating psycho. I dont think all the well-endowed toyboy ass-tapping S. American wife-beater shirt wearing Bad Boys in the world can make a shrewish,overrated,affirmative action bitch into a great leader. Get rid of divershitty and then lets see what happens!

  5. josh says:

    BTW w/regard to Hillary:She must be the most BORED woman in the world. It must drive her crazy having to deal with all that "statecraft" bullshit as Sec of State,when you know all she wants to do is empower,empower,empower girls and women. (And she prob sucks asbadly as those other two maroons,Madeline NotSoBright and Rice!)

  6. Whiskey says:

    Margaret Thatcher was an effective leader. Palin, until she was run out by financial attrition warfare (lawsuits against her middle class finances) notably achieved a corruption fighter in Alaska — sending everyone a check for oil/gas royalties instead of corruptly spending it on cronies. Nikki Haley has fought the old-line Republican guard in South Carolina (and Obama) on the issue of jobs and grabbing shipping for Charleston. The Republican Governor of New Mexico has launched corruption fighting probes, and cut spending (never popular).I would not say ALL but about half of women leaders are incompetent. Given the general incompetency level of all leaders of either sex, that's pretty good.There is also a world of difference between those like Palin, Haley, Thatcher, etc. who rise up from middle class backgrounds, and those like Hillary or Argentina's Kirchner or Pelosi who trade on wealthy/powerful husbands and/or fathers.

  7. map says:

    I wonder what happened to the stock price of all these "women run" companies.

  8. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect to Flavia, who appears to have an interesting and insightful blog, her definition of "alpha female" is incorrect; the FT article had it right.An "alpha female" is essentially the same as an alpha male – confident, competent, usually good looking. The only difference between them is that women all want the alpa male because he is an alpha male. With alpha females, it ain't necessarily so. Her alphaness may be a turnoff to guys, especially if she is not extremely attractive. However, an alpha female can be extremely attractive to guys if she is beautiful because she will be more likely than her less confident beta female sisters to know how to use her "sexual capital" to get what she wants from men.

  9. Anonymous says:

    But Linda MacMahon is a CEO married to an Alpha male. Perhaps all the other women are in the wrong industry?

  10. Barry Wood says:

    Here is an interesting anecodte that might be relevant.For most of the sixties Germain Greer blazed a trail of sexual promiscuity across London, sleeping with and then dropping a string of the best known men of the day.At the same time of course she was preaching the Gospel of feminist liberation and puring sheer venom on conservatives right and left. A left-wing hardliner as ever their was.Yet who did she want to marry?A controversial right-wing business magnate called Algy Cluff who made his fortune in the African gold mining industry. As Cluff's autbiography revealed, he declined. Probably for the best.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what happened to the stock price of all these "women run" companies.Companies with women directors perform badly on stock market, report claimshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/shares/6023097/Companies-with-women-directors-perform-badly-on-stock-market-report-claims.html

  12. Brendan says:

    It stands to reason that anyone in these kinds of time-consuming positions either can't be married or has a supportive spouse. Men or women. I don't know *any* senior male execs at my F200 company who has a wife who is nearly as high powered as they are. These women are well educated and had careers before and in early years of marriage but then scaled down as hubby's career ramped up. It makes sense, as someone needs to manage the domestic aspect of things, and if one person is working 60+ hours plus lots of travel, then the other person *must* do it. Outsourcing it mostly to third parties is very passe in the UMC (i.e., the "working rich"). There are exceptions to this, but they are exceptional.It's much less common, therefore, for women to be in this position because few of them marry men who are willing to do this (or, stated differently, few are willing to marry men who would be willing to do this). My anecdotal experience working in corporate America for 20+ years … among the female senior execs I know, a substantial number are either never married (2-3 times as high, percentage wise, as the male peer group) or are divorced (at least twice as many as the male peers). Only the remaining minority are married, and most of these either have no children (again, among the group of married senior execs, the number who have not had kids is 2-3 times as high as the male peer group) or are "capped" in advancement and not advancing to the higher echelons. I can count the number of women who had househusbands on one hand and still have enough fingers left to type pretty well.In my personal experience, women will opt for everything else (divorce, avoiding children, not marrying) in preference to the househusband route. There is a small minority of women who *will* actively choose the househusband route from the beginning, and they tend to be the small number that advances very far indeed, to the CEO level. But they are outliers among women in terms of the choices they want to (or are willing to) make (and, frankly, quite a few of these women are not "stunners" in any case, and are making do with a mate market that is less than ideal for them in any case).

  13. Anonymous says:

    I'm in an interesting situation, in that my wife, on paper, "has it all": a successful career, a high income, three beautiful, healthy kids, handsome husband, etc. etc. But she also understands — implicitly — that all of that depends utterly on my grace and efforts. When she gets a compliment in a professional or social situation, I am always the first reason she attributes her success to. She'll be the first to admit that without my active help and assistance, she'd be a crappy mom, a lousy employee, and an utterly miserable, unfulfilled bitch. In other words, the only way she can live the feminist ideal of "having it all" is by cooperating with and acknowledging the necessity of having a man in her life to help her. That really grates on her feminist colleagues who ask her "how she manages it all" and she says, "only with the help of my big strong man. I couldn't do anything without his assistance.http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/12/conservative-woman-misses-point.html?showComment=1325181429484#c7152388433256979295

  14. Anonymous says:

    I thank god every day I was born a woman. All I had to do was be clean, nice, choose wisely and voila. Someone just magically brings me money every day and supports me. It's a pretty sweet gig. Ummm, I don't think Flavia is in a relationship. Are there any men who just "voila" give women money?

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