The Female Partner’s Perspective

January 13th, 2003 Comments Off on The Female Partner’s Perspective

I’ve been giving more thought to the partners working the admit weekend. I’ve decided I should submit the following “A Female Partner’s Perspective” for next year’s edition of the student handbook. You all remember how much I liked last year’s, right? A conversation with a to-remain-nameless CWIT recently just reinforced all of this (yes, this is better than working on the novel):

You will be graded on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 the highest and 3 failing. This is a forced curve, so not all of you will pass. A rare few of you who are outspoken (in the right way) and who excel in all areas will become Cook Scholars, which entitles you to a lifetime of nanny services. After all, business school is all about winning. And not only is Harvard not the exception, it is the epitome. You are no longer you. You are an HBS spouse. And at HBS, we take the CWIT (corporate-wives-in-training) program seriously.

Rule 1: You no longer have your own name. Even if you did, you are now your husband’s appendage. “I’m Joe’s wife.” Taking your husband’s name doesn’t earn you points, because that is a given. If you kept your maiden name, well, you lose three points right off the bat. On your name tag, write in big letters, “Cruella Snodweiner, wife of Herbert Snodweiner the Third.”

Rule 2: Be friendly, but not too friendly. Remember, your new friend’s husband may one day be the investor your husband needs for his new venture capitalist firm. So be helpful to the other CWITs, but always maintain the upper hand. Say, “Oh, what a darling hair cut. I know just the place in town where you can go to get those roots taken care of.” Say, “What an unusual shade of lipstick!” Say, “Has it already been six months? Losing baby fat is harder than it seems, isn’t it.” Earn 10 points.

Rule 3: Did you just ask where the male partners are? Ha ha ha ha. You get two points for making the fellow CWITs laugh, but you lose 5 points for asking such a ridiculous question.

Rule 4: Receive 1 point for every section social function you attend. Lose 2 points if you actually try to engage a non-partner in a conversation that lasts more than .75 minutes. Safe topics: the weather, what they think of the Enron case study they are reading, what their job was before HBS. Unsafe topics (immediate failure): what you think of the Enron case study that you read while your husband was playing golf with his professor; the inspections in Iraq; what your job was before HBS.

At the end of the two years your points will be tallied and your class participation will be measured against that of your fellow CWITs. After these scores have been carefully tallied and analyzed, gauging for future party-throwing potential and the ability to realize maximum profit when your husband divorces you for his prettier, thinner, blonder wife, a final ranking will be determined. And in a ceremony that occurs the same morning your husband graduates with his MBA, those numbers will be tossed out and the coveted CWIT of the Future Award will be given to the woman with the best manicure.

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