1. A quotation by Christine Lagarde, French minister of finance and a contender to be the next head of the IMF, in Maureen Dowd's column in the NYT on Sunday:
.."people were not particularly nice to me and the media was very keen to point at mistakes or being too blunt or not using the politically correct phrases. I did what I always do. I just gritted my teeth and smiled and got on with it.”
2. From an article in the NYT on Saturday, about men having crises while grilling meat and calling the Weber Grill Hotline for help:
“Quick, I need to talk to a man,” he says curtly.
For Ms. Olsen, 67, it was yet another caller insisting that no woman could possibly grasp a grilling issue.
With 14 years on the job, she calmly but firmly explains that she will be able to handle the problem. If the man is especially upset, she suggests, “You might want to grab a beer — and just listen for a while.”
Ms. Olsen, who was widowed at 51 and has pictures of her grandchildren on her cubicle walls, does not rattle easily. “I’m good at what I do,” she said. “I don’t cry” — unlike some of her male callers — “though I have thrown a headset.”
Both women are confident in their expertise, remain (mostly) calm even when men are hysterical and behaving badly, and do their jobs. At least one of them might even make history.
I have never particularly liked the bumper sticker quotation: Well behaved women rarely make history (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). I appreciate the essential point -- women shouldn't just go along to get along, be quiet, not make waves etc. You have to get out there and stir things up to effect real change. The suffragettes made history by not behaving well according to the norms of their time. Etc. But there are different ways to interpret what is meant by "behaving" and what it means to "make history".
Many women collectively make history by doing everyday jobs, like serving in the military (as it is appropriate to remember on this Memorial Day in the US). The hope, of course, is that if enough women routinely demonstrate their expertise and skill, even in jobs that are historically the exclusive domain of men, there will be more career opportunities for more women and less discrimination and harassment for all.