Sunday, January 13, 2013

1/13/13 Smarts

Are men interested in smart women?

I was thinking about fixing up a male coworker (not someone at my company, but someone I meet with often) -- with a female friend. I can just imagine that conversation, telling him: "She's tall, blond, slender, very pretty -- " -- then I'd be tempted to add: "-- and really smart, two master's degrees, great job at a high-tech company, super-successful."

But does that matter? Are men interested in how intelligent, educated or accomplished a woman is? They'll all say that matters, but does it?

Even my first instinct is to describe to a man how attractive a woman is. The smart part is just an adjunct. If the tables were turned, to most women, "two master's degrees" would be a big plus -- but is it to men? Their ears shut down right after the "tall blond slender" thing, despite their PC protests.

That got me thinking....did it matter to the men I've dated if I was smart or not? I can think of two who I felt really, really knew me, who really valued my individuality and thoughts and humor and ability to relate -- perhaps even whatever "smartness" I have. I can also think of a few who were intimidated or put off by my ambition and drive.

Another female friend astutely points out that she feels the closest to a man when he appreciates her strongest and truest qualities -- and some of us brashly feel that might include "smart" (whatever that means).

Two men in my life who I know had/have total confidence in me, deserved or not, are my father and brother. They both really knew/know and love/loved me, for me, with all pluses and minuses. I always feel completely grounded and truly like myself around them. (Well, around my brother now; my Dad passed on in 2011.)

At work I feel like I'm gaining respect for being smart and thorough, despite so often being outside my comfort zone (in the "soft skills" categories). My job makes it clear where my strengths are: tangible details, not warm-n-fuzzies. Work is an odd place in which I'm surrounded by men, who depend on me to be "smart" as an engineer, yet also are taken slightly aback when I'm not "soft" as a woman. Though I'm aware that I always have to prove it, when it comes down to the dirty details, it feels good to find that people like and respect me -- maybe even regard me as "smart."

That helps me field this sort of comment:

If you don't understand how they calculate and apply the [ percent ] discount, I'm sure the [ business ] director can assist you.

Obviously I know how to calculate percentages, so that comment was intended only to condescend and degrade me. Nowadays these things roll off my back, but it'd sure be nice never to have to face that sort of unpleasantness. Men never do.

Insults notwithstanding, I know that if a coworker were to suggest a fixup, how smart or funny I am isn't the first thing that'd come up. For sure it'd be about my physical traits -- no doubt garnering yet more apologies for my petite stature. My personality on the other hand, I can see being presented as a caveat: "She can be pretty hard-core sometimes, brace yourself!"

Well, whatever. Anyone I fix up with any of my friends had better not expect a softball...and I guess it'd be the same with me. Not sure if that'd be better or worse!


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