Monday, July 19, 2010

The meaning of work

My flatmate and I were discussing some work this afternoon, and how we find it almost impossible to motivate ourselves when we're not interested in something. Our initial hypothesis was that we are spoilt brats, torch-bearers of the Entitled Generation. But then, we are also very good at convincing ourselves we don’t have any flaws, and so we came to a second hypothesis: that girls (and, for the purposes of this theory, gay guys) are wired differently to men.

Men can emotionally disengage from whatever they are doing. If they are good at it, that is enough for them. They can sit in front of a spreadsheet all day or crunch numbers and watch stock markets. Skills and intelligence in exchange for money. A rational, simple transaction. We, on the other hand, need to see the bigger picture, know what the work is going to be used for. And, most importantly, we need to believe in what we are doing. It needs to make a positive difference to the world and mean something. Work is an emotional investment

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why men earn so much more than women. We have got to the bottom of it. It’s not prejudice. It’s not a secret community or a global old boy’s club. It’s the fact that meaning is a lot more difficult to find than projects or tasks that need to be done.

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