site stats WhizGidget Wonders...
Monday, March 03, 2008
Scenes From a Starbucks Cup...
...every once in a while a piece of intelligent thought crosses my Starbucks cups, and this weekend was no different. While enjoying a honey latte - I know, I *know*, I'm drinking coffee and I normally hate the stuff - I found the following quote (it's #287 of "The Way I See It"):

"There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
~Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State and Ambassador to the U.N.~
You know, there are so many different ways to take that statement.

Now, Albright has mentioned that that's a favorite quote of hers and has used it in many speeches and interviews with regards to women, technology and power. In that context there's a strong emphasis on women who are in power should be helping other women grow and achieve. It's a responsibility of having such power (come on, you remember Spider-Man: "With power comes great responsibility") and teaching other women what you know.

The quote means that women who bully other women or subjugate them as a result of having power will have a special place in hell for trying to be the "queen bee". Albright mentioned the idea of one woman in a society having a cell phone and no one else had one. The responsibility of that woman with the power and technology was to teach the other women in the village how to use the technology. To not do so, would be taking a selfish position of power - a "queen bee" who subjugates the others. If such a place in hell exists, then I know women who will try and rule there too because of their attitude that they made it that far all by themselves and therefore they are paranoid about having other strong smart women working for them.

There's another way to take the comment too, considering that it's published out of context and that comes from my husband's reaction to my reading the cup out loud. It's completely sexist.

That's right. Sexist. Taken out of context this focuses solely on women who don't help other women. What about women who don't help other men? Shouldn't the real statement be that there is a special place in hell for people in power who don't help other people? And I'm not talking about your generic politicians helping other politicians. I'm talking about people in business, government, anywhere who have achieved something and don't help other people now that they're where they want to be.

Shouldn't part of the point of having power, knowledge, technology, whatever that gives you an edge be the latitude that you have in being able to teach others what you know? To help others achieve what they want to achieve? I know that part of the problem when you have achieved something that you've worked really hard for is that some folks are afraid that it's going to be taken away from them. A strange sense of paranoia can develop - I've been there a couple of companies ago.

I didn't want someone coming in and taking away pieces of my job. And yet, I was tasked with helping this person succeed. I did what I was asked to do - I helped her succeed. The funny part was that my fears came true but not because of anything that I did but because the boss was interested in my co-worker in a very personal nature. And thus she rose higher than I did in the organization simply because she had a different kind of power that I refused to use.

Lessons learned. But did that make me paranoid the next time that I had the opportunity to help someone climb up? For some it would, for me it didn't. Yes, I'd been burned once but I was willing to give it another go. Unfortunately the individual that I was able to help was laid off and didn't go anywhere in the organization but she has experience that will help her when she returns to the workforce.

It doesn't always end badly. It doesn't always end well either, but either way it's an opportunity to spread knowledge and experience. To help others achieve something that they want, and not necessarily sacrifice yourself in the process. Teaching others to do the things that you can do can sometimes open the door for you to stretch your wings and learn something more yourself. As for those women (and men) who are paranoid about having strong smart individuals working for them and being reluctant to help them along...

...they'll eventually get what they deserve.