# 266: Business Women and Identity

Kwolek-Folland, Angel (1994). Engendering Business: Men and Women in the Corporate Office, 1.

Story behind the Passage

“All this neo-liberal terminology, we should get rid of it altogether.“ This is what self-declared critical thinkers like to say. You know what, I understand all the critical thinking but the point is, it is also getting on my nerves. Again, also in this context there is so much polarization (“also” because I write about polarization a lot). Why can we not call ourselves “business girls” without any neo-liberal business critique?

Yes, language shapes the way we think but there are definitely people who think too much. You might argue now that “too much thinking” does not exist. I argue, it does, if the thinking prohibits the doing. If we just look at language as a tool for a minute, we can move on to the more important part: getting things done. if there is one thing i love about business, it is the getting things done part. And to be honest: there is no return. As soon as you have shifted from the thinking to the doing community, you can hardly go back. If you can impact people’s lives directly, why would you just think about their problems and be ‘critical’?

Still, Iblog about books.

That covers the thinking part.

My Learnings

“Alice Peterson’s self-definition eloquently suggests questions about the ways individuals conceive of and experience who they are and about the relation between ideologies and institutions, between our sense of self and our social roles.” Maybe I just have a grumpy day today and I have to admit I do not remember too much about the entire book. I bought it for my research on the last book I wrote. Still, I just think that sentences like this one about a very simple finding make things look more complex and even negative than they have to be.

“Her definition of that real life used two words — business girl — that for her summarized who she was: a woman and a worker.”

What I simply want to point out is how valuable this is, how much power emerged from the simple fact that women work and that they do identify with their work. I just realized this finding this week when I talked to a woman who is now in her seventies. We actually talked about her marriage and the early years with her husband and one thing she repeatedly stated in response to questions about their relationship and role division was: “I had my job, I was independent and stood on my own feet.”

The minute she said this, her eyes became powerful and bright and her voice was strong. One could see that this feeling of power, of empowerment, which she had felt back then, was back in her mind, even in her body. Even more importantly, it must have carried her through her life to a great extent.

Would a woman like her care so much about the difference in language, the difference between “girl” and “woman” if the focus is actually on the word and meaning of work?

I could ask her, of course, but that is not even the point. The point is that this identification with the working woman, even decades afterwards, is a strong source of identity, a great one. This connotation suffers in all this hyper academic or ‘critical’ discourse. Yes, we have been seeing too much unreflected mainstream thinking in business in the past but dissecting every single word in order to challenge it is insane.

And by insane, I also mean it is an indicator of people having too much money. The people who care most about this linguistic brain fuck, who can afford to do so, are usually not self-employed, no business owners. Yes, academia does not pay much comparatively but people get their money every month without having to worry about solving problems in the real world. That is the actual term critical thinkers can think about:


Reflection Questions

1) No matter if you are a man or a woman — what does work mean to your self-image?

2) How do you think about the relationship between language and identity?

3) How many years will it take until there is gender equality in the work place, according to your personal estimation?

Founder & CEO of Companypoets