May 10, 2024

Women and the world of productivity

SHU had a wonderfully well considered post on Does The Most Popular Productivity Advice Apply to Women on her blog here - following on from a Deep Questions by Cal Newport episode here.  

The comments on SHUs post are the real gold.  Especially this comment:

There is an argument to be made that productivity and planning books which include whole-life (kids/family/career) become "women's interest" books and end up in self-help rather than business.  Because they're not business, men don't buy them, and then they don't sell as well and become more "niche" and less serious.  

How come 4,000 weeks by Oliver Burkman is a bestseller but 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam stayed on shelves?  I know they are fundamentally different styles of books - but I do wonder if there is a gender bias there.  I imagine Oliver Burkeman has far more female followers than Laura Vanderkam has male ones. 

When male productivity authors (Cal Newport, Oliver Burkeman, James Clear) start talking or writing about family life it always gives me a sense of "oh, they're including me! They have kids! They factor kids into their lives!"  

I wonder if men have the alternate reaction when approaching Laura Vanderkam or Tiffany Dufu... do they think "oh, kid stuff, this isn't a book for me".

Or maybe people who have time to write/buy productivity books generally don't have kids?  I wouldn't have cared at all about who was giving advice before I had kids.  Work late? Sure! Good systems? Sure!  

I am so much more productive and focused now, personally and professionally, than before I had kids.  The operational logistics of my household are far more challenging, complex, and interesting than the actual operations job I get paid for 9-5. 

I wonder if the fact that most/many women take on either a full or part time home operations role before even starting their professional careers means that none of these books are really covering the productivity advice women need.  Or even if we do start our professional careers with all the same productivity needs, if we then have families the advice doesn't apply to us for some interim period, which at best puts us "behind" the men who don't really change.  And if women don't have families/children they are still viewed as "women in the workplace".  Even the best mind-like-water woman can be asked to get coffee while her male colleague is asked to review a powerpoint.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know, for some reason it seems like there is the expectation that women just "handle" everything... I know there are a lot of good guys that do a lot of organizing and planning, but still a lot just 'naturally' falls to women. Is it because we're really wired this way or purely a societal problem?