Want to climb the corporate ladder at Ernst & Young? If you’re a woman, factor in some time to rest that pretty little head of yours.
According to a shockingly outdated leadership seminar, women at the accounting firm were told the female brain is both smaller and soggier.
“Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup, so it’s hard for them to focus,” attendees were told according to the Huffington Post, which received a leaked copy of the seminar’s presentation. “Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square.”
That’s just one gem from the accounting firm’s Power-Presence-Purpose training, a 2018 program designed for the firm’s female executives.
Other highlights include:
Women should have a “good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements [her] body type.”
“Don’t talk to a man face-to-face. Men see that as threatening.”
“Don’t be too aggressive or outspoken.”
Ernst & Young—which has a Philadelphia outpost in Center City—confirmed the program has been discontinued. But not, of course, before systematically gaslighting 30 grown women and comparing them to a second-rate breakfast.
Presumably, a new training is in development. (Or at least one would assume, considering EY’s high-profile sexual harassment lawsuits.) With that in mind, perhaps they’ll consider these 21st-century updates for the pancakes among us.
As in, any clothing. A form-fitting dress, an oversized blazer, a Big Bird costume, a suit of armor—if it adheres to your company’s dress code and makes you feel good, wear it. Any job you land because your pants look good isn’t a job you want, and it definitely doesn’t come with stock options. You know what, on second thought, just go with the armor—2019 isn’t over yet, and it just keeps getting stranger.
Speak your mind.
It’s a sad, common trope that outspoken men are leaders, while their female counterparts are, in the words of one Donald Trump, “nasty women.” It’s still true in some circles. But to assume male coworkers are threatened by strong women is demeaning to everyone. Women at the top of their fields—Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, JK Rowling, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the list goes on—didn’t get there by sitting quietly with their hands folded. Speak up, speak directly, and speak confidently. If they don’t listen, rattle your armor as you reach for that last blueberry muffin, maintaining eye contact as you take a slow, menacing bite and let the crumbs tumble across the conference room table. The real men in the room won’t be scared.
Help other women.
Here’s the real kicker—the Power-Presence-Purpose training was developed by a woman. Presumably, consultant Marsha Clark thought she was helping the women of EY. But in reality, she was simply reinforcing the status quo, using the same tired tools she had access to when attempting to climb the ranks in the tech industry. (Tellingly, you don’t know Clark’s name—but you have likely heard of her former boss, Ross Perot.) Don’t be a Marsha and suggest your frustrated female coworker be less “shrill” in meetings. Be a Lizzo and take your girl to get a DNA test. With the right support, she could be 100% that exec.
If someone treats you like a pancake, eat him for breakfast.
Pass the syrup, ladies—2020 is going to be a wild ride, and we’re all in this together.
Monica Weymouth lives (and sometimes writes) in Jenkintown. She does not own one piece of well-cut attire that complements her body type.