Elaine Chao, Washington veteran, noted at Politico's recent "Women Rule" that, 'Men don’t prepare that much, so why do we have to?' and continues "“I prepare so much more than some of my male colleagues,” Chao tells POLITICO editor Carrie Budoff Brown in the latest “Women Rule” podcast interview. “And I know women who are prepared more and we get ridiculed and it's like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She's just preparing so much. She's such an automaton. Can't she just like, wing it?’”"
The reason, of course, is our millennia-old mythos of men being born for glory and greatness, ready to roll, walk-ons for greater things. We call this "The Natural", like that Robert Redford movie.
You might think of it as Magic Johnson vs. Larry Byrd - roughly comparable skill & success, but in popular lore largely "the guy with the screaming God-given talent vs the Hoosier who always had to work so hard".
Jesus didn't just go to school - he lectured his teachers as a young upstart. Buddha was born with good looks, wealth, and struck out on his own, to make his own path. Joseph even sold of into slavery couldn't be kept down - instead becoming vizier and telling the Pharoah what's up, the equivalent to Tim Robbins' rise from the Hudsucker mailroom to lead the company.
Even that story is another exercise of the myth - Robbins is another idiot savant, pulling out genius inventions from his naive unprepared innocence. He's Forrest Gump, the slightly rebranded Gomer Pyle that accidentally inspires half the memes and trends of the 60s and 70s, or the Chauncey Gardiner who informs his abrupt & mistaken political rise with anecdotes from days pruning the flowers and tending to the greenhouse.
Our image of women at work is baseline - taking care of the kids and housework in which nothing startling happens, or a not-too-earth shattering secretary or nursing job, in which the ideal was long to meet a man and "retire" to the 24x7 homebody role. Mary Tyler Moore was one of the first to bypass this expectation, but it still didn't make her presidential material or even the boss.
Marissa Mayer *did* become boss, arguably salvaging Yahoo's stock price against their worsening position in the search market & finally selling it off for a still substantial sum after years of none-too-surprising decline. As such, she was savaged for doing what many a male CEO has done - taking a huge paycheck with options as his company failed - even though her failed acquisitions were extremely modest compared to frequent tech billion dollar Hail Mary shots and she failed nowhere near as badly as say Stephen Elop, who drove Nokia into a ditch and then got rewarded with an Exec VP slot to fail at.
"You've Got Mail" summarizes all this perfectly - the young white dude with the annoying demeanor but the hugely successful business sense and more than enough time to play with his dog, vs. the overly nostalgic, impractical woman who'll do fine as a wife instead of a small bookshop owner. You can multiply that tale about a million times for Silicon Valley.
Our current political morasse is caused by this same cultural mythmaking - the outsider who can come in and make it all better, common sense rising past any and every gap in experience. We saw this in 2008 when we elected a charming & inspiring young 4-year Senator to lead the nation, with little discussion afterwards of how his relative inexperience impacted his performance. However, to be fair, I would guess that Obama was almost always worked to prepare. Which to reward our dumb luck, we then voted in someone who had no intention of preparing, who thinks ad libbing is work, who possibly even has a reading disorder that keeps him from understanding more than the basics in a few images. In his version of Horatio Alger, his father drops a million dollars in his lap and says, "Go forth and prosper", while his son-in-law does him one better, inheriting the family property as his father's being hauled off to jail.
What's even better is that the sales world and business in general encourages this kind of "success", what with aphorisms like "fake it till you make it" and "blue lies", the habit of "lying for the common good", meaning your own collective or those like you - you know, the ones in the board room. How else would the (soon to be ex-)CEO of United think it's okay to drag a customer out of a plane bruised and bloody and then 'splain it away as a lack of cooperation? It's simply know-nothing, blank talking head taking over what its best at - filling in the form of authority and competence rather than the actual functions.
See, the modern work world doesn't require a Charles Goodyear spending years globetrotting to find the right ingredient for rubber - this generation's breakthroughs are done not in Hewlett Packard or Microsoft's garage, but in Google's dorm room, or for Twitter & Facebook, in a virtual cloud somewhere. Good looks might be appreciated (Sergey Brin being better than Mark Zuckerberg), but after Ari Onassis or Bill Gates or Ross Perot and now Donald Trump, it's certainly not required. Men don't even have to even dress - I knew a guy who ran several telcos & invariably showed up in ratty white t-shirt - while women spend hours attending to requisite wardrobe - not too tarty, not too prude - and personal effects when not writing those pre-meeting reports - all to be told they didn't get the job, but it was useful, honest, and hey, we should do drinks sometime...
Guys are the fun types, like Christopher Hitchens or Hunter S. Thompson, who can laughingly pull out a questionable story while nursing a 3-day bender. It just adds to their mystique.
One of the problems we have is our attitude is so ingrained, we hardly even notice until it's so excessive or simply through contrast. When Reagan became President, he was a vacuous actor, but he'd played his role as Governor, and well, it seemed like play, so why not? Similar with W. Bush - he even bought a ranch to out-Reagan Reagan, while his governor's duties largely ran themselves. But when Sarah Palin entered the ring, we started to see just how low we'd fallen. It wasn't that she was that much dumber than the typical male candidate spouting off about grain pyramids or comparing gay marriage to bacon-warapped shrimp in a deli. It's that she said it in a high-pitched female voice with pumps and a wink. I mean, there was just no way she was going to walk into the office and pull off success - unlike Dan Quayle, she didn't know how to cover up her deficiencies.
And then there's that Ivanka Trump gushing over Justin Trudeau bit - male privilege? they own the routine - cultivated for power, ready for a walk-on starring role, no need to work your way up, another family dynasty.. What's a mystery is why it doesn't come apart, but then again, there's usually someone in a supporting role holding it together. Feminine Mystique? yeah, it's a wonder they don't kill more often. But I guess that's what makes them the softer sex - it's just not that complex.