If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen


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given fair reconsideration. She was given the promotion within days but without a single word of acknowledgement spoken. Fast forward to today and she reports that most of the students in the Penn psychiatry program are women and they are making gains in faculty representation, albeit slowly. She asked me if I ever experienced overt misogynist behavior in my profession and when I said yes, she said, “I hope you scream about it and rail against it when it happens. It is the only way to bring about change.” I assured her that, if she knew me better, she would know I wasn’t prone to keeping my thoughts to myself on this topic.

I do see some signs of hope that women are making progress, however slow or small some of those steps forward may seem.  The plane I flew on a recent trip to New Orleans was piloted by a woman, something that never used to occur. Back in 1970 there were no female commercial pilots but today there are about 5000. Efforts to raise up and support female CEOs are beginning to flourish and there are 18 female CEOs in the Fortune 500? We have 8 females in the Cabinet of the US President (out of 22 cabinet-level positions), and even the Augusta National Golf Clubrecently offered membership to two women for the first time in their history (herstory?). I hope that Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore accept those memberships, drag all their female friends to the club on a regular basis and leave the toilet seat down, not just to be disruptive (although that could be fun), but also to show the world that problems are not caused by there being one woman in a roomful of men. Rather problems are caused by foolish thinking and closed minds and insecure people who don’t know how to function normally in mixed company.

It’s like that old saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Except in this case it should be “Women don’t cause problems, morons cause problems.” And to those men who believe that having women in your professional midst is uncomfortable, here is what I have to say to you: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, because we are coming in and it sure as hell isn’t to make you a sandwich.

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Lisa Suennen is a managing director with GE Ventures and former managing member of the Psilos Group, as well as the co-author of Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare With Technology? and author of the blog Venture Valkyrie. Follow @venturevalkyrie

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5 responses to “If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen”

  1. Great article Lisa. The corollary to no women in the professional kitchen is no men in the hotel room performing room service. Two distinct gender universes.

    • Lisa Suennen says:

      Hi Charles, thanks for the note. True observation, but only one is considered, rightly or wrongly, an upscale profession. Lisa

  2. observer says:

    So Lisa spends all of her time noticing the number of women in the room. And this is interesting why?
    The column from start to finish has a sexist (yes women can be sexist) tone.

    • Lisa Suennen says:

      I don’t have to spend all of my time noticing the number of women in the room. There are usually so few it only takes a second. No doubt women can be sexist too–we just tend to have fewer opportunities to act on it.

      ps-I always wish the critics would sign their names so we could have an actual discourse on the topic. Oh well.

  3. Chris says:

    “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, because we are coming in and it sure as hell isn’t to make you a sandwich.”

    Who could resist such a well measured and rational appeal? …. :)