What if Women Pioneered the Work World?

Today’s post is by, Holland Banks

Had the professional world been pioneered by women rather than men, what would it look like?

It’s no coincidence that both the hierarchical structure and social culture in the work and especially corporate environment are structured in a way that seems to benefit men, or at least coincide with their natural tendencies and responsibilities.

For women, at times everything seems to be a battle against the self, a constant learning or adjusting process and most notably a push and pull between the personal and professional responsibilities.

And that’s no coincidence. Rather, it’s a result of centuries of a general work environment and culture having been molded by and for men and their needs. Men shaped the workplace the best way that they knew how-to accommodate their needs. And who can blame them, why wouldn’t they? For example:

  • Why would men put any thought into maternity leave, or centering work around lifestyle and domestic responsibility if they weren’t also the primary caregivers or keepers of the home?
  • Why would the good ol’ boys or any male dominated staff choose to have informal business gatherings over coffee and tea if there was no woman there to protest whiskey and scotch?
  • Why pee with the door closed if everyone in the neighboring executive conference room has a penis? Yes, it has been done. (Male executives will sometimes go to great lengths to offend high positioned women. Or, if we choose to give those men the benefit of the doubt they may accidentally forget that a woman is there.)

They wouldn’t, and they haven’t.

I’m still pretty young, only 23 in fact. I spent my first year out of college working in a nonprofit that had much more women than men (granted they were fairly aggressive women), so fortunately ( or perhaps unfortunately) I have yet to be exposed to the real thorns of a blatantly male dominated workforce.

Still, I’ve lived long enough to know the characteristics I’m most likely to find within any male dominated work environment. And the overwhelmingly and almost insultingly large slew of magazines, books, articles and television shows instructing women on what they should and shouldn’t do in the workplace, has left nothing to the imagination in terms of where we are “not fitting in” in the work environment.

But they rarely tell us why. And many of us are probably regurgitating the same self destructive idea that male dominance often promotes- that we’re just not as good as men in the workplace.

Well perhaps it’s true then, that it is harder for women to succeed in this environment that has been structured by men.

But would it not be the same for men if women had pioneered the work environment instead?

For example:

  • What if work schedules and operations were centered around domestic responsibilities? Perhaps it would further complex the schedules and plans, but it would allow women to succeed in both endeavors.
  • What if business relationships were formed around character and likeability, rather than simply profitability? Would men be capable of putting time into cultivating a relationship before jumping on its benefits?
  • Would there be a different physical environment within business offices that better accommodated our moods and the way we like to relate to one another? Would we be “happier” while achieving professional success? Would it promote less or more competition? Would it promote different types of competition? Maybe it would create better ways to encourage and stimulate employees.
  • What if employees could only rise to the top of a company’s hierarchy if they proved that they could enable even the lowest and poorest performing member of the team rather than if they could bring in the largest individual profitable gain and trump their co-workers?
  • What if everything was different, including the way that outside constituents, the consumer populations, stakeholders and even other countries perceived our companies?

And those are only the small changes that we might see.

I believe that we could safely assume that a world with a female pioneered and dominated work and corporate world would also mean  an overall society with more female fused values and ideals. Our corporations would probably act differently. Our society would expect different things from us.

Don’t be afraid to think big with me here!

  • What if a company’s ability to have the healthiest most cared for employees coupled with financial and economic gain was how they were ranked and gained further economic influence and respect in the markets?
  • What if we as citizens were smart enough to judge, condemn and take down, or encourage and support corporate entities and their success based on their Corporate Social Responsibility endeavors rather than their commercials and trends?

What if… a female pioneered business world meant a better world, and we just don’t know it?

You see, the innate values and qualities that we think are holding us back are those that if further included in the business and corporate behavior would push it, its players and even the surrounding populations to a higher state of being and operation. We could move beyond what we are now.

We could build a more perfect and balanced world that focused more on the good of the whole rather than the profit of the individual. Our larger businesses could become greater contributors to business and society.

Where would a man’s place be in that world?

I’m sure that we’d have a lot to teach him. He may need to readjust his manner of thinking so that it fit the goals of his female built company.

And because of woman’s subsequently larger effect on society, her hypothetical dominant grip on society’s views and values will probably put extra pressure on man to act differently and to learn to view success and appropriate behavior through the lens of a woman. For example, women often do better starting their own business like Noga of Urban Outsource.


It would be pretty difficult for him, I’m sure.

But in time, he would adjust. And women would find that even though he doesn’t have the exact same innate values, the values that he does have could help them reach the same  desired goal – success. If they were smart they would use his natural capabilities and skills to help them all achieve it.

My main point?

We are adjusting ourselves to view appropriate work behavior, success, culture and values through the lens of the men who initially created these environments and the men who have continued to dominate them.

We are not of lesser value or capability because the adjustment is sometimes difficult or nearly impossible.

My second and most important point?

Men need women just as much as women would need men to create a perfect and more enlightened world. With that goal in mind, in order to reach the end result it doesn’t matter who the pioneers were.

Holland Banks

Holland Banks is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin living in Dallas, Texas. In her most recent position she worked with a non-profit legal organization helping human rights abuse victims.