Why Brilliant Women Should Be More Arrogant
Tara Sophia Mohr has a challenge for working women. “You’re brilliant and thoughtful, but could you move a few more inches in the arrogant idiot direction please?” Be an arrogant idiot is rule #5 of Mohr's 10 Rules for Brilliant Women.
What’s the Big Idea?
Tara Sophia Mohr has a challenge for working women. “You’re brilliant and thoughtful, but could you move a few more inches in the arrogant idiot direction please?”
Be an arrogant idiot is rule #5 of Mohr's 10 Rules for Brilliant Women, a blog post that went viral last year, turning the writer and leadership coach into a minor internet celebrity (she has 3,538 followers on Twitter and her services are fully-booked). Each of the rules is a specific and actionable step in the process of advocating powerfully for your perspective. But it's #5 that gets the most response.
Of course, Mohr knows you’re not really going to be arrogant, because the first rule of brilliant women is that they don't know they're brilliant. Still, the advice resonates: "What most women are seeing in the workplace is a bunch of guys throwing out half-formed ideas, not particularly well-thought out, yet they’re rallying everyone and getting tons of resources put behind them while many women are waiting for their idea to be more researched, more perfect."
Mohr came up with the ten rules in twenty minutes, after a lifetime of listening to clients and friends share thoughts and opinions with her that could have "transformed their organizations" had they been voiced to bosses and co-workers. She asked herself, what is holding such amazing women back from communicating their vision? And more importantly, "how can we get the conversations that are happening [in private] to actually come to being?"
What's the Significance?
Women now constitute about 46% of the workforce and earn 57% of undergraduate degrees. "Unfortunately, we live in a culture where competence and likability have an inverse relationship for a woman,” says Mohr.
The gender gap shows up not just in a difference in wages, but in "the way our institutions are structured, the way the workplace is structured. We live in a patriarchal culture. Things are changing, but our workplaces still come from a model that was built for men. Sometimes a tentativeness arises out of the feeling that this whole place, this whole field, this whole university isn’t built in a way that feels consonant with my sensibility about human beings."
A recent report showed that female university students in the EU expect (accurately) to earn less than men once they graduate. The study also showed that men placed more importance on prestige and being a leader or manager, while women preferred to work for a company with high corporate social responsibility and ethical standards.
But bringing a different perspective to your field is no reason to settle for a lower income. Salary is how we express the value of work, and what Mohr really means when she advises women to be arrogant is that they should never underestimate their value in the world.
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Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.
Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.
- The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
- Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
- These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.
A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.
Rethinking humanity's origin story
The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.
David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.
The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.
Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"
He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.
"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."
Migrating out of Africa
In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.
Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.
The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.
The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.
Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.
Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.
Did we head east or south of Eden?
Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.
Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.
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