Recent elections in Austin, Texas, have given the city its first majority-female city council, with seven out of 11 members of the lady persuasion. It’s a milestone, though not an earth-shattering one. But city manager Marc Ott—or someone in his office—apparently thought the change needed to be met with a training workshop for city employees on how to deal with this confounding creature, the female human being.
The first speaker was Jonathan K. Allen, whose claim to fame is being the city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, which has an all-female city council. Austin-American Statesman writer Lilly Rockwell collected some of the highlights of Allen’s talk—which appeared to be given to a majority-female audience—in which he explained that women lack interest in “the financial argument” and would rather ask questions than read handout material. Allen shows heroic forbearance in putting up with all these chattering females, because “my daughter taught me the importance of being patient.”
“They don’t process things at [sic] the same way,” Allen said, to women, referring to women. (The same way as what? Woman, you ask too many questions!)
Shortly after Allen’s talk, the women of Lauderdale Lakes fired him as city manager. (Lest you think that a feminist cabal is running all the men out of town: They appointed another man, Dan Holmes, as acting city manager.)
Later in the session, business consultant Miya Burt-Stewart concurred with Allen’s assessment that women can be irritating with their endless questions and also argued that men have a “dominating” management style while women have a “compromising” one.
Training workshops full of self-important puffery are an unfortunate fact of the modern American workplace, but rarely do you see one this ridiculous. That this happened in Austin, generally a laid-back and liberal city, makes it all the more puzzling. When the Statesman asked why the city subjected a majority-female audience to evidence-free stereotypes about their own gender, city spokesman David Green said it was a “timely and relevant professional development opportunity.” Consultancy jargon will also teach you the importance of being patient.