You don’t need an MBA to tell you that you’re a capable woman. You’re really here because you understand that you’re playing a game; The Game. Why Booth and not an MBA at Quinnipiac? You understand that having an MBA matters and that having a degree specifically from here gives you more credibility than other schools. “Credibility” - it’s why you should golf. Before you scowl at me, it is the same reason you have that fancy luxury (preferably not luxury within reach) handbag and belabor over the idea of “statement pumps.” You must look the Look, talk the Talk and hit tiny white balls with metal sticks.
A feminist viewpoint would counter me with, “Women shouldn’t have to change who they are to be respected.” When you get to this wonderful world where people are blind to plain demographics as a basis of a snap judgment, call me. The Boys’ Club is very real. The double standard we face as women is even more real. Until we start raising children in a gender neutral way, a know-it-all-uber-competitive woman can be seen as a negative. Golf, or any other activity, is a great way to show you’re more than competent. Step up to the tee and crush it and then all of sudden partners and clients are listening to you; that innovation you suggested or that tweak to a pricing model seems like the best idea your boss has ever heard! Does any of this make you more capable? No! You are a product. People need to believe something about you before they “buy” you. It is up to you to deliver substance afterward.
Hundreds of books have been written on how the genders relate to each other and how at times, they prefer to relate intra-gender. I’m not saying lay it on thick and start acting “like a guy,” but golf is “bro time” and when you’re on the Links, you’re a bro. Ask yourself, who are you? Women with children often say, “I’m a mother.” It seems obvious, but is that all she is? Why is that the first thing she says about herself? When you are at the office, you’re a Banker, a Marketer, a Financier, a Consultant or you’re the Boss etc. Stop focusing on what makes you different from your male co-workers and concentrate on what makes you the same.
There are just inherent walls that come up automatically when both genders are present in a group setting. Men feel like they have to act like men and women feel like they have to act like women; however that is defined by the regional culture you happen to be in. When these walls come down, we’re all the same. But in order for them to come down, you have to get your male colleagues and managers comfortable with you. I’ve been a member of the Boys’ Club for a long time now. I have sat through all-male conversations discussing the fattest they have ever been, whether or not what they’re wearing looks okay and have heard countless stories about their children being so cute. We’re all the same when no one is looking; we’ve just been taught not to be.
Some advice for when you start: Do not buy a pink bag. Do buy a pink accessory.
Gabby Cristobal likes good bourbon, sassy women and has been a member of the Boys' Club since 1986.