‘I wish that girls could fail as bad as men do’ the former First Lady told Tracee Ellis Ross at the United State of Women Summit
This double-standard between men and women is a major #fail, according to Michelle Obama.
The former First Lady discussed gender equality with “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross at the United State of Women Summit on Saturday. And while she didn’t address President Donald Trump by name, she expressed frustration that women didn’t vote for the “most qualified person” (Hillary Clinton) and that men can fail repeatedly and yet still reach powerful positions.
“I wish that girls could fail as bad as men do and be OK,” she said. “Because let me tell you, watching men fail up — it is frustrating. It’s frustrating to see a lot of men blow it and win. And we hold ourselves to these crazy, crazy standards.”
“Failing upward” describes messing up big-time, and yet landing a big pay day or success despite the major mistake. Trump was elected to the highest office in 2016 — with many women coming out to support him — despite sexual misconduct allegations.
Or take Billy McFarland, the man behind the epic Fyre Festival disaster last year, where guests who spent thousands of dollars on tix for a luxury music festival in the Bahamas arrived to just soggy tents and cheese sandwiches. He has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and faces eight to 10 years in prison, plus a maximum $300,000 fine when he is sentenced in June. But he was still tapped to host the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day celebrations last year, and Hulu has picked up a multi-part documentary series about what went wrong with the Fyre Festival, to air next year.
Some women have indeed failed upward, including former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was brought in to save the company, failed, but still left with an exit package valued at almost $200 million after Verizon bought Yahoo’s media assets last year.
But she’s the exception to the rule. Research shows that women are judged more harshly for making mistakes than their male counterparts are. And women are often punished more severely for things such as getting angry and being aggressive than men are. A 2015 study found that when women express anger while making an argument, they are seen as less persuasive, and their argument is less valid — but the opposite is true for angry men.
Thank you to the fierce and fearless @valeriejarrett, @tinatchen and @USOWomen for bringing together a crowd of thousands to reflect on the #StateofWomen, and for inspiring the next generation of leaders. #USOW2018 pic.twitter.com/jU8hvtMpv7
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 6, 2018
Obama also discussed what more men and women can do in the workforce to create gender parity between their sons and daughters in the future.
“So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up,” she said. “That’s not a criticism, because for so many, just getting to the table was so hard, so you’re just holding on. But now we have to take some risks for our girls … just holding onto our seats at the table won’t be enough to help our girls be all that they can be.”
And she called on father’s to do their part for their daughters entering the workforce, as well. “What I’ve been telling men is, you can’t have it both ways: You can’t whisper these magical thoughts in your daughter’s ear about who she can be or what she can do … If you’re tolerating [inequality at work], that is the workplace that’s going to be waiting for your little girl, but you sold her a bill of goods. You told her she could be anything, but then you’re not working to make sure that can be actualized. And so men have to understand things don’t just work out for your little precious pea.”
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