Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The perception of the partners

(The following was written at the train station in Paris, while waiting for the train to Belgium. I wanted to get rid of some irritations before heading back home. So I decided to write it all down. It helped :-)

Comment of an MBA student during dinner yesterday evening, about the partner group :
« I’m really surprised about the partners here. I mean : I’ve realized they’re not just a bunch of housewives, but they’ve all got like serious careers going on… »

This comment should tell you something about how the partners are perceived by quite a few (single) MBA students at INSEAD : as a bunch of housewives, who basically have nothing better to do than follow their husbands/boyfriends around the globe. I’ve sadly come to realize that this is a widespread prejudice, and that we definitely are being looked down on. What started out as just a feeling I had in the beginning, has been confirmed by remarks, other happenings, and comments like the one above.
Let me go into detail a bit

1) You meet new people. They ask you what class/section/etc you’re in. You say « I’m a partner ». The reaction is very often « Oh… » and you are left out of the rest of conversation and no longer addressed in any way.
2) Other students are very friendly to you when you’re in the company of your partner. But refuse to recognize you or say hello when they meet you alone in the hallway, bar, cafeteria
3) A subtle, but very real one: the looks you get when your sitting with the other partners in the bar area.
4) Invitations for dinner parties like « P, we suppose you bring along your girlfriend – let us know if she has other engagements for that evening ». So you’re not really invited (they don’t even bother about your name), you are brought along simply because you are there, and well, they don’t have any other choice but to invite you too, but they secretly hope you already have other plans and won’t come anyway.
5) I could go on ……

So for all these people, let me clarify things a bit :
- It’s not because we don’t have GMAT scores of +750 that we are dumb. I still have to meet the partner who didn’t get a higher education.
- It’s not because we are not working at the moment, that we don’t have careers going on
- It’s not because we maybe have other values in life, like family and being with the one we love and supporting him, that we are « weaker » human beings who are putting themselves in second place
- It’s not because you see us sitting in the bar a lot, that we have absolutely nothing to do. Most of us have activities going on, like teaching, studying, part time jobs, etc.
- It’s not because we actually do all the household chores, so that our partners can devote all their time to study, that being a housewife is are only goal in life.

Sorry if I’m ranting a bit, but I’m just fed up with this kind of closed mindedness I didn’t expect to encounter at INSEAD. Another MBA student who recently became a father, had experiences along the same line. Some people thought it was great, others were indifferent. But with some (and I presume the same sort as the one I described above), he told us he could really feel their reaction was one of « how can you be so stupid by not focusing on your career for 100% and actually start a family life now ». Once again, other values were being looked down upon.

Fortunately, this group is « countered » by a lot of other people.
Who : remember your name, ask what you’re doing in life, are genuinely interested in you, believe you can engage in a conversation, value you for the choice you have made.
So thank you to all the guys who know that I’m N, and say « Hi » to me. It means a lot.


DTLF said...

Hear, hear. Excuse my French, but the haters can go fuck themselves. Live strong.

So, will you say hi next time we pass each other in the bar :)

Wim De Bruyne said...

hey N , check out Claudia's blog with some hilarous comments to partners here in Singapore:

N said...

To Wim : I've just read them. Hilarious :-), real life just beats fiction @ INSEAD ;-). Good idea to write them down though...Let me get my notebook :-)

Pierre-Antoine said...

"You say « I’m a partner ». The reaction is very often « Oh… »"
Maybe it was due to their disappointment of you not being single :)

N said...

Haha :-)! Thanks for making my day!

Anonymous said...

Hi N,

I know this must be a very old blog and my comment is way too late.. but I am a partner joining my husband in Dec 09.. This blog is my worst nightmare and I really need to be prepared to deal with this.. thanks so much for this heads up I can atleast be prepared