At the height of the #MeToo movement, giant management consulting firm Ersnt and Young (AKA "EY") sent a group of women to Power-Presence-Purpose, a "leadership and empowerment" workshop led by Marsha Clark, who advised them that "Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus" and "Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square."
The women in attendance were counselled on "not flaunting their bodies" lest they "scramble the minds" of their co-workers, and to be "polished" with a "good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements your body type."
They were advised that women's communication styles were a problem in business, because they both "speak briefly" and "often ramble and miss the point" while their male colleagues "speak at length ― because he really believes in his idea."
Marsha Clark, who led the workshop, was an exec at Ross Perot's Electronic Data Systems in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. She is an advocate of the junk-science Myers-Briggs test, and is continuing to work with EY (though she is no longer delivering PPP in the same form).
An attendee at one of Clark's PPP workshops at EY last year says that Clark spent part of the time advising the women in attendance that their brains were smaller than men's.
A 55-slide leaked to the Huffington Post, who asked Harvard Business School's Robin Ely, who studies gender and the workplace, to evaluate the claims in the deck about biology, psychology and best business practices. Ely characterized these claims as having "not a lot of empirical support."
EY claims that Huffington Post's writers and sources are taking Clark's work "out of context." The company has been embroiled in multiple #MeToo scandals, whose survivors claim that the company systematically ignored and downplayed internal complaints.
Jane said that at the PPP training she attended last year, Clark coached the group in how to interact with men in the workplace ― advice that Jane wrote down in her notes and shared with HuffPost:
* Don’t directly confront men in meetings, because men perceive this as threatening. (Women do not.) Meet before (or after) the meeting instead.
* If you’re having a conversation with a man, cross your legs and sit at an angle to him. Don’t talk to a man face-to-face. Men see that as threatening.
* Don’t be too aggressive or outspoken.
“You have to offer your thoughts in a benign way,” Jane said, recalling the seminar. “You have to be the perfect Stepford wife.” It felt like they were being turned into someone who is “super-smiley, who never confronts anyone,” she said.
“You have to be the stereotype of what a woman is,” Jane said. Like the worksheet described it, she added.
Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men [Emily Peck/Huffington Post]