My friend Anita recommended it to me when I was in Seattle, and now I'm devouring it. As I read, I nod my head so hard that it hurts.
It's not new. It's not a cookbook. It's not even a food book. I know, I have gone insane, but stick with me, especially if you have a vagina. (Censor me! I dare you.)
The book is called Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Published back in 2003, it examines the cultural forces that impede women from negotiating for their interests. In a nutshell, it provides both hard data and plentiful case studies showing the shocking frequency with which women fail to ask for what they want. Then the authors explain why, by delving deep into our cultural and societal psyche.
Many of us, myself included, avoid asking for more money, or for more favorable terms and conditions in contracts or in the workplace. Why? Because we're afraid of appearing aggressive. We think we'll be viewed more favorably if we accept what's initially offered.
In fact, the opposite is often true. The authors write:
In many cases, employers actually respect candidates more for pushing to get paid what they're worth. This means that women don't merely sacrifice additional income when they don't push to be paid more, they may sacrifice some of their employers' regard, too. (p.8)
Look, I'm writing about this here because I've gotten quite a few emails from young women in response to my posts about my early struggles -- with my professional identity, and with my efforts to balance my ambition with my early years of motherhood. Anne-Marie Slaughter's recent piece in The Atlantic, Nora Ephron's untimely death just yesterday, and now Women Don't Ask all have me thinking about what it means to be a working woman in 2012.
How can we feel more confident in asking for what we want? We can't always wait for other people to figure out our needs. Being direct is best.
To that end, I'm taking a risk. I haven't wanted to ask you these things, but I'm feeling emboldened.
Me first, then you...
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3. In addition to encouraging you to get Women Don't Ask from your local library or bookseller, I'm also going to ask you to make a beautiful plate of food for yourself, or for people who are not you. A recipe follows.
Now, you. Practice asking for something below. Of me, of each other, or of someone (your boss? a neighbor?) who won't even see your comment.
You may not get what you ask for, but you won't get anything -- I assure you -- if you don't ask.
Recipe for Seared Scallops, Favas, Potatoes, and Garlic
This recipe took 3 days, but not because it's hard. Truth is, in the summertime, I tend to cook in components because I don't always know in advance how I want to fit different items together. Once everything's made, I just play.
Salt and pepper
Boil some small potatoes until tender when pierced. That's it. Just boil them, drain them, and let them cool. Then refrigerate them, covered. They'll keep just fine for several days.
Dump a bag of fava beans in the center of the table and de-pod them. If you live with someone, ask them (ask them!) to join you. Talk about something good, because you'll be sitting there for a solid 15 minutes.
Boil the favas for 2 minutes, drain, run under cool water, and ease off their skins.
In a large, wide skillet, warm a nice layer of olive oil, add 3 or 4 whole, peeled garlic cloves, and let the garlic warm slowly in the oil for about 10 minutes over very low heat. Give it a nudge onto its flip-side halfway through. Add the favas and cook them a few minutes longer, until the beans and garlic are nice and tender.
Transfer the favas and garlic to a small covered container or jar. Top off with garlic oil. Refrigerate.
Blot some large scallops dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper them. Sear them, hard and fast, in a hot, olive oily skillet for a few minutes per side, until they color deeply and a crust forms. Check one to make sure it's cooked to your liking. (Leave them in the hot skillet for a few extra minutes if they're undone.) Do not overcook.
To serve, set out a platter with your favas, sliced cold potatoes, and freshly-seared scallops. Drizzle the lot with garlic oil, passing bread alongside.