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Here’s why there are no women over 40 in your office

By Jason Freely / a few months ago
Here’s why there are no women over 40 in your office

The US is one of the only countries in which working extremely long hours is extremely rewarding. Other countries tax very high income to the point that it’s not worth earning. In those countries, it’s possible to take care of children and have an interesting job. Because even if a job is really interesting, people don’t work very long hours.

In the US there are no good part-time jobs. Jobs that pay solid middle-class wages require at least 50 hours a week. The best jobs go to people whose only focus is work, and those people hire people like themselves. (Remember Marissa Mayer not allowing anyone to work from home?)

So the New York Times maps out for us how college-educated women marry people like themselves, and they have kids, and someone has to take care of the kids, so one person works long hours at the office and one person works long hours with the kids. In marriages between men and women, women choose to stay home. This is not misogyny or feminist backlash. The Atlantic describes this situation as late-stage capitalism forcing us to survive. (I lost the link—it was in the last three months or so. But I’ve been saying it over and over again.)

The math is terrible for continuing to work. You have to get off work early on a snow day. You have to stay home on a sick day. Or you have to pay for high-quality childcare and that will cost as much as you could make doing a job that is 40 hours a week. It’s not worth it. And if you and your partner take time off for kids then neither of you can get to the high-paying jobs.

So here’s the question: By the time a kid is in third grade, almost all college-educated women have left their job—who are the women still at the office even though they have a grade-schooler at home?

Women who are raising kids alone. Only 2% of college-educated women fall into this category because college-educated women know that divorce is financial and logistical horror for the kids. I have never talked with a college-educated woman who is raising kids alone who does not have Aspergers. Part of the reason for this is women with Aspergers choose men who have Aspergers and those marriages are hard. But also, women with Aspergers don’t feel the social pressure to put the kids first like neurotypical women do. (Note: 90% of women with Aspergers don’t know they have it. I’m telling you they have it because I know.)

Women who are INTJs or ENTJs. These women are born to work at a company. These women are the very top of the top performers in the workplace. But they are 1.5% of all women, which is statistically irrelevant, really, but so is the number of women in senior leadership after age 40, so it all makes sense. On top of that, most women who are NTs have Aspergers. This is because Aspergers is like having an extreme male brain, and NT is a personality type combination that is almost exclusively male.

Women who have Aspergers. The workplace is a contest to see which company can make the most money. The workplace is linear, competitive, confrontational, and undervalues emotional connection. Neurotypical women excel at collaboration, and they tire of the environment that places little value on their skills. Women with Aspergers notice around age 40 that the only people left at the office at their level are men, which is a relief; relative to men, women with Aspergers appear to have the social skills to collaborate.

Of course, all women should be able to choose to work in the corporate world. But what happens is that the loudest women are the ones who are also most suited for the male work world. So neurotypical women feel the pressure that they should want to work, but they don’t want to work. I mean, they’d like to work if there were jobs they wanted, but neurotypical women don’t find jobs they want.

Wait. Are you a neurotypical woman who thinks you want to work? Here is a test:

Question 1: Have you ever enjoyed any job you did?

If you answered no, then we are done with this test. If you answer yes:

Question 2: Why did you leave?

If you answered you were fired then this was not a good job for you. Obviously. And you have no idea how badly you were doing in the job, and you probably wouldn’t like the job if you knew what you’d need to do to do well in the job.

If you answered that you left because there was something wrong with the job then you did not actually like the job. You liked the job if you could change the job to get rid of things you didn’t like.

Question 3: What if you could wave a magic wand? 

Imagine you can have any job in the whole world, right now, what would it be? Rules to keep in mind: you cannot wish the salary to be different. The game is to imagine you are taking a specific job that exists right now, in reality. Also you will have to do the job with the knowledge and skills you currently have, and the personal responsibilities you currently have (though if the job pays well enough you could use the salary to hire someone to take over those personal responsibilities).

Very, very few people can point to a specific job they actually want.

But, given the choice of a job you don’t really like and staying home with kids, men choose the job and women choose the kids. This is not theoretical. This is 30 years of data. And the research about women with Aspergers brains gives us an understanding of why there is a disparity between men’s and women’s choices in their careers.

If you remove all the women with Aspergers from the picture, what you’ll find is that it turns out women don’t want to do the life men want to do. Women just want more options than being second-class citizens at home with kids. Women were sick of being treated like children. But you shouldn’t have to earn money to win the right to be treated with respect.


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