Friday, January 30, 2009

How does the front porch look?

This article was brought to my attention by a loyal reader. It was a story written in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1991 regarding Debbie Yow and her time as athletic director at St. Louis. The article starts with this passage:

There's a lot about Debbie Yow, 40, that's harder to explain. Since becoming athletic director last August, she has been embroiled in a number of publicized controversies. Some critics have portrayed her as everything from a hard-bitten dragon lady whose zealous management style caused a rift with veteran basketball coach Rich Grawer. Others see her as an overly sensitive little girl who didn't fight hard enough to get the Billikens into the National Invitation Tournament.

Her management style caused a rift with the veteran men's basketball coach? You don't say!

Yow went on to site a common lament of women in a prominent position that if you are tough and assertive you are labeled a "bitch" and that men who are likewise aggressive and tough are praised. That is sometimes true but it is also true that in some cases male managers who are tough and assertive are also just assholes who can't get along with others. Being a manager of a large organization is about much more than being tough and assertive and sometimes it can actually be counterproductive to be either when the issue is more tied into your ego than what is good for the overall organization. Anyone who is good at being a leader knows that irritating people for no good reason is hardly a wise course of action and should have the introspection to know being abrasive isn't an asset. At some point when you demonstrate a talent for rubbing people the wrong way your problems can't be chalked up to chauvinism, old boy networks, double standards or glass ceilings and it is a cheap cop out to invoke those old bromides.

The last paragraph almost made me spit my coffee out.

"Mostly I'm interested in being the best athletic department we can be with the best group of managers involved," she said. "I want to integrate the athletic program with the rest of the academic community - because, and I quote my idol, Dean Smith (North Carolina basketball coach), an athletic department is like the front porch of a house. If a person likes what he or she sees on the outside, they're usually interested in coming inside."

You can read the entire article here.

I'm not even going to go delve into the issue that someone who loudly and pathetically claims to be a "Terp" these days thinks Dean Smith is her idol. My only question is this: How does your porch look these days, Doctor Debbie?

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