Pence, Dinners, and Mythbusters

I’m back from Budapest: more on that later.

While I was away the US Vice President Mike Pence seems to have subjected himself to ridicule and outrage from various quarters due to a confession that he will not dine alone with any woman other than his wife of 32 years.

Some people believed that this may harm the careers of those women who interact with Pence professionally:

Social-science research shows this practice extends beyond politics and into the business world, and it can hold women back from key advancement opportunities.

So, is dining alone with a boss or colleague a necessary condition for professional success? The answer can be found in a rather unlikely story:

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have worked closely with each other for 14 seasons on “Mythbusters,” but that doesn’t mean they were close.

Possibly the biggest myth the duo has busted is the belief that you can’t work with someone you don’t get along with.

I say unlikely because when you watch Mythbusters (and being a mechanical engineer who has spent a period unemployed, trust me when I tell you I have) the dynamic between the two is such that you can’t believe they are not friends in real life. But apparently not, and the article is worth reading because it shows how they moulded two conflicting personalities into a show that worked. So what’s this got to do with Pence? This:

“We don’t get along very well together on a personal level. In 25 years we’ve known each other, we’ve never had dinner alone together.”

So one of the most successful working relationships in modern times occurred between two people who never had dinner alone together. At this stage one is entitled to ask why some think women’s careers will suffer under Pence’s cruel no-dinners policy and, more importantly, what they believe women would do alone with Pence that they would not do in company. It seems to me those complaining about it either have a rather dim view of women and how they progress in their careers, or they’re projecting from how they advanced their own.


16 thoughts on “Pence, Dinners, and Mythbusters

  1. more importantly, what they believe women would do alone with Pence that they would not do in company.

    Ah, there’s your problem. You’re trying to figure out how women’s agency fits into all this, when, as we know, patriarchy has robbed them of all agency! Only Pence, as the avatar of patriarchy, has the power to create or destroy a career here.

  2. The response to this has been utterly, utterly deranged. These people are, well, deranged. It has consumed them for days.

  3. Back in the day when I worked, there were all sorts of people I never had dinner with. Some of them were good people, some less so, but either way they got on just as well as anyone despite not sharing the salt and vinegar with me (No, not a euphemism)

    So, I am going to file this one under ‘First World Angst’

  4. Women are weird. I’m certain that if you had asked all the women who are making such a song and dance about this if they would like a dinner with Pence alone, they would have been ‘not if he is the last man on earth!’ Tell them they can’t and they go nuclear, demanding the right etc….funny.

    I also strongly suspect that these same women are very well aware there own career advancement has been highly dependent said dinners for exactly the reason Pence doesn’t entertain them.

  5. Rob
    “The response to this has been utterly, utterly deranged. These people are, well, deranged. It has consumed them for days.”

    There is a reason for this reaction, it has not occurred in a vacuum.

    Pence has, very subtly, slut shamed a significant number of can-do, strong, independent ladies who all made it on there own merits, and never needed intimate dinners with men who’s favour could advance them up the ladder.

  6. Cruel no dinners policy? Must have missed that. I saw him speak of his own wife.

  7. The liberal MSM that dominates public discourse, and feminists of all waves, are advocating that women (presumably including transgenders) should be clamouring to advance their careers in the Republican Neocon alt-right Trump administration by spending time alone with Pence?

    What has come over them?

  8. I never dine alone with anyone but my wife or another close family member. It’s called taking care of one’s reputation. What the hell is the matter with these people?

    When you socially interact with another person alone it can lead to all manner of speculation about what’s really going on. The first thing other people think when they see this is that some sort of inside track deal is going on. This is human nature. How these people cross the street without getting run over is beyond me.

  9. I was also raised as a Roman Catholic and spent two nights in Dubai a fortnight ago attending an expo with an attractive female manager from Australia. We traveled in the same aircraft up there, in different classes, stayed at the same hotel with separate rooms on different floors. I had dinner and lunch alone with her on a few occasions.

    Big deal.

    It must be his evangelic bull shit conversion that they are making a point of. A bit like Tillerson saying he took the job because his missus told him taht the Lord had not finished with him yet.

    Fucking whacked out modified Christians alright, that got their finger on the button, Lord.

  10. The comments at that Atlantic piece are pretty great:

    Women be like, “I am woman, hear me roar. Where are you going? Hey, come back here and hear me roar!”

  11. Dine alone with a woman, especially if I’m her boss?

    Er, no thanks. HR can be malignant enough around inappropriate matters on the 9-5. Why the fuck would I put myself in the firing line by being alone in an environment that looks like a date, when a whisper of impropriety would be hideously embarrassing?

    So, how you like the end result of that culture you created, feminists?

  12. I don’t understand why it is so strange the mythbusters people never had dinner.

    There are plenty of people in the office that I get on with, but my time is precious and they remain firmly in the colleague box, although I’ve known them for years. Very few indeed have migrated to becoming even an acquaintance, let alone friend. Human nature being what it is people find it easier to be friends with those of their own gender. If you add all this up the odds of a man having a 100% work related lunch or dinner – in the man’s mind – with a woman is pretty slim. (The exception is business travel, when you may be forced to dine with the only other person you know, which could be a woman. This is of course famously a top occasion for infidelity) Pence is just being a realist about this.

  13. The late Reverend Billy Graham have a similar policy. It’s not so much to temper temptation as to remove even the appearance of impropriety. As a religious public figure, there are plenty of anti-religion people willing to take him down by making accusation. If he has a standing policy of NOT be alone with any woman not his wife, than the chance of the accusation sticking is lessen.

    It’s not just conservative Christian that has this policy, this is a good idea for ANY public figure.

  14. This is of course famously a top occasion for infidelity

    Precisely. Ask any woman who she is worried about her husband having an affair with, it won’t be the 19 year old barmaid he’s letching over down at the pub, it’ll be the single or divorced co-worker who he spends three-quarters of his working life with. As others have noted elsewhere, it is very hard to stop intimacy building with an attractive co-worker simply by virtue of the amount of time you spend together. Sensible folk, like Pence, learn to stop this from happening before it even starts.

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