City Workers Offered Special Training On How To Deal With Women

Photo: Connection/REX Shutterstock.
On Wednesday, members of Austin's city council held a press conference to address the outrage around a controversial training session that was held in March for government employees. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the session was organized by the city manager's office to help workers adjust to the new female-majority city council (the first in Austin's history). On the training agenda: How to work with female leaders and how they are different from men. The motivation behind the session is already suspect, but when you hear the advice offered by the two speakers, Jonathan K. Allen and Dr. Miya Burt-Stewart, it's even more upsetting.

Statesman reporter Lilly Rockwell watched the full video of the training session (which has since been removed). According to Rockwell, Allen, a former city manager from Lauderdale Lakes, FL, explained that women ask a lot of questions, they don't like math, and they don't read agendas. He learned how to work with women, he said, from his 11-year-old daughter. “In a matter of 15 seconds, I got 10 questions that I had to patiently respond to,” he explained.

Allen also believes there will be more and more women in leadership roles, thanks to Hillary Clinton. "You see women in leadership positions," he explains, "[and] you will have to interact with them in a different way." Dr. Burt-Stewart, owner of a Florida-based business development and marketing firm, cited Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus as her source of knowledge on the differences between men and women. During her talk, she ran through a bevy of gender stereotypes, including, “Men have egos; women have wish lists.”
At Wednesday's press conference, the female city council members expressed their anger over the training, the Texas Tribune reports. Assistant city manager Anthony Snipes, who arranged the training and had previously heard Allen speak, has been suspended from his duties pending a full investigation, the Statesman reported last night.
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Allen and Dr. Burt-Stewart released a joint statement to address the controversy: “Any interpretation that we do not support and appreciate the growing number of women executives and elected officials in both the public and private sector is not true. If our overall intent and message was not clear during the presentation, we sincerely apologize for any miscommunication.”

Councilwoman Leslie Pool might have summed it up best with a statement she made during the press conference: "I have to question a culture that allowed such a training to occur. Women have served in leadership positions for years; this is not our first trip to the rodeo. We don't read agenda information? We don't want to deal with numbers? Come on, folks, this is 2015."

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