Chloe Angyal over at Feministing has a smart essay on a recent Paley Center for Media panel on women writers working in late-night television comedy. Sensing that the female panelists didn’t think gender was the true explanation for the dearth of women in comedy, Angyal draws an acute connection between women comedy writers and female traders on Wall Street:
It is no coincidence that the discussion of why there are so few women in late night comedy sounded so similar to a discussion of why there are so few women on the trading floor. In both industries, women are perceived to be naturally less gifted, ensuring that only the best women will put themselves forward. And in both industries, being loud and aggressive is a job requirement. Given that women in our society are discouraged from being loud and aggressive, the real failure of the women who can't hack it in a male-dominated work environment seems to be that they are, well, women.
Listening to the panelists on Thursday night, I was frustrated, but hardly surprised, that they insisted on portraying what is partly a cultural problem as a purely individual one. In late night as on Wall Street, the stakes are high. Speak out too loudly and you risk rocking the boat. You risk inviting the disapproval of the many men, and the few women, around you. You might end up as a cautionary tale, one of those women who couldn't hack it. You might even lose your job.