Why girls may still need an edge

Gender-gap stories like today's lead piece really seem to get readers going.

One frequent comment (yes, it's typically made by males): Such a "gap" is becoming a straw-man issue these days.

Er, straw person?

Women may not yet have come remotely close to parity in the boardrooms of Fortune 500 firms, the argument goes, but they can quit whining - amid huge gains!

It's true: Women are winning in an arena that's perhaps even more important than corporate stardom in this age of the niche business: They're entrepreneurs.

Women now land about half of the loans issued by the Small Business Association. And women-owned businesses are now edging up toward 40 percent of all privately held US firms. Networking has helped. Women have been organized about their workplace advancement, and it has paid off.

But every successful movement understands how quickly it can backslide if it stops to rest.

That's one reason the gender-gap story isn't going away, even as the gap narrows. Another reason: There are always new battles.

A recent management study from Arizona State University, for example, called women "less effective" than men in disciplining their subordinates at work.

And so, a perpetual quest for women: Helping each generation to overcome perceived limitations.

Obvious solution: Start 'em young. There's debate over the age at which kids should legally work. But early training in workplace realities - which most schools lack - is pretty hard to fault.

Summer camp today can still be about letting frogs loose in the rival bunkhouse. It can also get down to business. For girls, especially, that can make a difference.

*Reach us at work@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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