Sunday, September 17, 2006

the pitfalls of sheepishness

During my quotidian "funny clip" search--we bashful types often have to resort to the macabre, the humorous, and the just plain bizarre to sustain conversation--I came across this piece, which can best be summed as: "Boozehounds make more dough." According to a study published by the Reason Foundation, a sort of sketchy-looking libertarian think tank, men who drink make 10% more than abstainers, and female lushes make a whopping 14% more than their sober counterparts.
However, unlike men, who get a seven percent income boost from drinking in bars, women who frequent bars at least once per month do not show higher earnings than women drinkers who do not visit bars.
"Perhaps women increase social capital apart from drinking in bars," the researchers said in an effort to explain the gender gap.
While the "news" isn't particularly striking--unless one reads between the lines and recalls the Libertarian initiative to lower the drinking age--it reminded me of a Time article I read in July, a piece by the indomitable Barbara Ehrenreich titled "Guys Just Wanna Have More Fun (And They Know Exactly What They're Doing)."

Ehrenreich first points out the growing female majority in higher education, coyly noting:
But that was an era when the cool kids smoked Gauloises and argued about Kierkegaard and Trotsky. Today, as two recent reports have revealed, it's the girls who achieve and the boys who coast along on gut courses congenial to hangovers.
In her analysis of the "coming matriarchy," she alludes to the recent omnipresence of dominant female characters in film--I can't hate a cultural critic who cites Owen Wilson--then ruefully concludes that "
the boys still know what they're doing." The article is a plug for her new nonfiction book; after infiltrating corporate America, Ehrenreich says, she learned that little things like grades, quantitative achivements, and work experience are playing second fiddle to intangible "personality factors."
I was shocked to find the emphasis entirely on such elusive qualities as "personality," "attitude" and "likability." Play down the smarts, the career coaches and self-help books advised, cull the experience and exude a "positive attitude."
For those of us who scratch our heads at the frat boy culture that permeates the financial arena--a generalization, I know--this isn't surprising. Reading the piece, however, and mulling over my impending departure from the university for a world where "networking" matters a great deal was a bit dispiriting.

Bitch and moan about the injustices of Yale--and there are plenty--but rue the loss of its classrooms' relative meritocracy. As an introvert whose preferred form of communication is the email, I know I will.

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