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January 27, 2023

The Dumbest Thing You’ve Read Since ‘Women’s Brains Absorb Information Like Pancakes Soak Up Syrup’

a plate of waffles and pancakes

It’s been three and a half years since we first found out about the sexist seminar in which women in leadership positions at EY were told that women’s brains are like pancakes and soak up information like syrup. The exact quote from that training to refresh your memory:

Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus. Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square.

To this day, whenever someone mentions waffles and pancakes you know immediately which firm they’re talking about (and Reddit regularly mentions waffles and pancakes any time someone is talking about EY, the sort of relentless pettiness we heartily endorse here at GC). Although some say the controversy over the training was overblown, EY was ordered to pay the state of New Jersey (where the training took place) $100,000 and to establish a $500,000 scholarship program as a direct consequence of hosting it.

But that was 2019, a lifetime ago really. Surely we’ve moved past those antiquated ideas by now. Other than the online spaces where your xenophobic aunt hangs out, no one is really spouting the same nonsense stereotypes about women being naturally good at reading emotion and men being inherently good leaders right?

Sadly, wrong. This ran in Forbes yesterday and I was immediately reminded of waffles and pancakes because, well, read:

Men and women both possess masculine and feminine qualities and each person lands within a range on the spectrum. Having the ability to harness both masculine and feminine qualities makes you a stronger leader and a more effective team member. For example, if you want to build relationships within a team stepping into the feminine is helpful. If you need to create order and structure within the team utilizing masculine traits may be the archetype needed. Each of us has default tendencies, which are typically related to our gender identity. Where each person falls on the scale is adaptable and dynamic. No matter how you identify, finding a balance between feminine and masculine can be helpful in all aspects of your life.

Look, I get where the author was going with this. She’s saying men can be caring and thoughtful, women can be assertive and methodical. Except the author sorts various qualities by masculine or feminine when no such sorting is necessary. Let’s keep reading.

Masculine qualities include structure and planning, taking action, risk-taking, competitiveness, protectiveness, and being assertive. Masculine traits get things done! This means the plan is usually direct and structured, where everyone knows their role and what they need to accomplish. When a person uses masculine traits without balancing them with feminine traits they may come off as aggressive, uncaring, and demanding.

Feminine qualities include being receptive, caring for team members, understanding the needs of the consumer that the brand serves, speaking effectively, flexibility, listening to intuition, and patience. Femininity is heart-centered! This means they have good relationships with their vendors and are a positive influence on team members, they have a good line on their customers and therefore can build a strong product, and are adaptable. When a person uses feminine traits without balancing them with masculine traits they can come across as passive, indecisive, and indirect.

Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and therefore overly emotional when I read dumb shit but WUT.

Below is a scoresheet used in EY’s waffles and pancakes training, leaked to HuffPo in 2019:

And this is from the Forbes article published yesterday:

The above is only slightly less obnoxious than the EY seminar that suggests women tend to be childlike (eww) and shy (fuck off). Knowledge is a masculine trait? It’s not masculine to look for approval? Intuition is feminine? Follows natures [sic] rhythms!? What does any of this even mean and why is any of it gendered?

Maybe I’ve just got my gender neutral undergarments in a twist because my feminine energy prevents me from viewing this article objectively and without emotion. Can a man please chime in to tell me if I’m overreacting or is this truly as dumb as my intuition tells me it is?

Feminine And Masculine Workforce Dynamics [Forbes]

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4 Comments

  1. [Disclaimer: I’m a man]

    It comes down to social constructs of gender. Gender traits exist and it is what is in the above table. People of all genders have traits from both sides above. They come from cultural and biological factors and vary from culture to culture and amongst time periods. The EY training was dumb because it overly generalized women and men, and pancake/waffle brain concept is pseudoscience bullcrap. The one above specifically says energy, and the context is that leveraging traits from both sides works best. The traits are not objectively good or bad so I don’t see any reason to get in a fuss over these ones. I don’t associate with all the men traits and I associate with some of the women traits.

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