Spoiler alert: If you watch Grey’s Anatomy and haven’t watched recent seasons, and care about spoilers, don’t watch this clip. I don’t think the post is specifically spoilery but I’d need an outside opinion on that.
I am HUGELY conflicted about this scene. Mind, I don’t watch Grey’s anymore, I used to have it on occasionally for background and it’s too much life drama for me to really get into. Plus I mainly enjoyed it because of Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh. Not the sex in the workplace, part, that weirds me out in a lot of ways, but their hard-driving, take no shit from anyone, I will prevail come hell or high water approach to work? Those were good.
And they weren’t caricatures, they were complex human women and I liked that.
On the one hand, I’m all about Bailey’s professional standards:
YES, you can only mentor someone for so long.
YES, a person must stand on hir own feet to know that ze can.
YES, you can be taught and taught and taught, but only YOU can actually put those lessons to use.
YES, you have to learn to work within the system in order to succeed in it and change it.
YES, part of the system dictates that Miranda has a fiduciary responsibility not to just give money away if it’s not asked for.
On the other hand, I’m not about that system AT ALL:
The system as it stands, where every individual must negotiate and with the internalized bias against women for negotiating, SUCKS.
I say this as someone who has negotiated in every single job she’s taken. I’ve fought for every raise and promotion to be at least close to commensurate to the value I brought. I make a decent salary. But the system SUCKS. The system is riddled with bias and is innately structured to benefit men, who are expected to negotiate, and discriminates against women who are penalized for negotiating.
Hell, according to the first study below, women are already penalized simply for being women at the point of application.
Ilana Yurkiewicz’s post Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters: scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.
So I’m firmly on the side of “everyone has to learn to stand on their own two feet”, but I’m also intensely uncomfortable with the assumption that women have an equal chance at the same money that men do, “just negotiate!”
It is NOT that simple.
Obviously, from the lower salaries that women were offered to begin with, they’d have to negotiate for a much larger amount just to catch up to what the men would ultimately receive.
And I’m tempted to say that Ellen Pao’s move to cut out negotiating entirely would be a good answer except that I don’t really trust companies to make a good, fair offer at the outset.
Getting back to that scene, my conflict stems from knowing that you have to challenged to get stronger. Sometimes being challenged results in your failure to rise, your failure to see it through, or your failure to even recognize there’s an opportunity to win in the challenge. Simultaneously, I rage at the fact that there are times it simply doesn’t matter how much you rise, or struggle, or fight, you lose because you fought, you lose because you fought as a women, you lose because it’s not “appropriate” to push back as a woman.
I don’t know what the answer is but I know this: there is a startling amount of bias in the current system and it sucks. And it sucks to see someone being admirable in her growth from a mentorship position to an authority position and realize that the line she’s holding for a damn good reason was drawn, and is redrawn every day, by people who never intended to level the playing field.
My feelings are complex on this.
More on this, if you really need the additional data
From the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Who Goes to the Bargaining Table? The Influence of Gender and Framing on the Initiation of Negotiation
From Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Not competent enough to know the difference? Gender stereotypes about women’s ease of being misled predict negotiator deception: “negotiators deceived women more so than men, thus leading women into more deals under false pretenses than men.”
Harvard Business School on How Benevolent Sexism Undermines Women and Justifies Backlash: “Benevolent sexists, more often than not, are also hostile sexists”