Behind the Boss's Door: What Men Really Say About Women

06/04/2010 09:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I don't have cable, and I didn't get around to ordering Mad Men from Netflix until last week. (Obviously, I'm not an early adopter.)

I sat there through the Mad Men marathon on Memorial Day, my jaw dropping. It was too painful for me to hear even fictional men from the Dark Ages speaking that way about women. I turned to my husband, incredulous: "Do men talk like that?" But he's an engineer, a cloistered academic. Not a reliable informant.

Ali Faramawy is a reliable informant. As vice president of Microsoft International, he was called upon by the 20th Global Summit of Women in Beijing to divulge the secret handshake: How do men perceive women in the workplace? ("Unlocking Access to the Boardrooms," New York Times.)

When we leave the room, here's what the guys say, according to Faramawy:

1. Women are "micromanagers." (Code for "I hate mom telling me what to do")

2. Women are "overaggressive." (I think he was being polite, avoiding the b-word)

3. Women are "emotional." ('Nuf said.)

Despite the progress made since "Don Draper" roamed the earth, neither legislation nor diversity training has undone the cultural fact of patriarchy. Men's language may have gotten coded or blunted, but the underlying sentiments remain the same. It's here, at the level of closeted sexism, where we need to address its consequences: the continuing marginalization of Woman in the workplace.