Now don't get me wrong - I'm all in favor of strong women, aggressive women, independent women - and any other sort of women; that's the point.
Women - and men, for that matter - should be free to have whatever personality is natural to them, to behave in whatever way they wish (within reason, of course). And people can of course react to that however they want to as well, including not hiring them for being less confident.
But consider this: do one's "self-promotion, confidence, and even occasional arrogance" really have a great deal to do with ability in most careers? I, for one, could do with far less of that kind of thing with the (largely male, admittedly) people I work with. A debilitating lack of confidence is a problem, of course, but most people don't have that issue.
For me, it's quite simple. I like being slightly self-depreciating. I like saying 'sorry' and using tag phrases. I like speaking softly in formal situations. I don't like to appear confident when I'm not, etc. It's just who I am.
It seems like the real trouble is with the employers who are unable to see past the mask of confidence to a persons ability, and who are so used to judging people by specific proscribed attitudes that they can't accept anything else. It's not that women are somehow 'naturally' more sensitive or non-aggressive - as in Ms. Zandt take on the subject (Which M. Leblanc rightly criticizes), but that women and men who choose to be less confident, less self-interested (dare I even say, kinder!) shouldn't be punished for it.
These are natural, human ways of behavior that women are pressured, cajoled, and outright prevented from engaging in, from puberty on. Humans are an ambitious bunch, and we're self-interested and selfish. I don't think we need to jettison that aspect of human nature in order to live in a more just, free, and collaborative society, as Zandt suggests. What about ambition that seeks power and authority in order to bring about justice? That's the kind of ambition I have.
I respectfully submit that ambition, self-interest, and selfishness aren't 'natural human behavior' any more than self-sacrifice, or a desire to live simply is. Surely there's room enough for all kinds!
Don't get me wrong - any woman who is ambitious (especially for justice!) is to be greatly admired. But it often seems as if the presence of strong women is used an excuse for society to continue to discriminate against femininity.
So I suppose I'm not really disagreeing here - Shirky's original article was just so much tripe. I'd just like the feminist response to that sort of thing to be more balanced.
What do you think? Is there something intrinsically good about ambition and self-interest?