This article about the crap that women put up with every day and don’t even make visible because it’s so normal really got to me. I don’t go looking for being treated differently because of my gender. In fact others have to point it out to me at times because I’m pretty thick about such things. So it’s gotta be gobsmackingly obvious before I even notice. No females in any position of authority obvious, and it took me a long time to notice even that….
But if I mention something egregious, whether or not related to being female to a male colleague, friend, or family member, it’s immediately doubted and questioned: “Are you sure? Are you being rational or overreacting? You know you can be a little too strong when you express your opinions, so it’s your issue to deal with. Just rise above it and don’t say anything.” and the like.
I’m reminded of Sheryl Sandberg citing the number of women who’d been warned about being too “aggressive” (aka bitchy) in performance reviews, as opposed to the number of men at GHC 2015. Ok, men don’t get called “bitchy.” and the term “bastard” is almost a term of endearment. As in, “the bastard got away with another one” said half admiringly.
I am reminded of the old posit that a lone woman on the team frequently finds herself with a minimal selection of roles:
- one of the guys
- group/room mom
I’ve been fortunate that on many teams, I’ve been a team member or team lead. Not one of the guys, but folks don’t first think of me as a female to whom they have to apologize for swearing (my delicate lady-ears fall off at the sound of four-letter words) and don’t feel obliged hold the doors for me either . Just how I like it(first one to the door opens and holds. Easy peasy).
But sometimes when I least expect it, the gender thing hits me again, sometimes even with my normally well-adjusted colleagues. I look around and I’m the only female in the room and there are 17 men. Or I interrupt someone who has similar group social capital and I’m a bitch, though I’ve not managed to complete a sentence without interruption. Celebrations and thank-yous fall to me by default because “you’re so good at it, and I have no people skills!” Told, “Oh, that’s just his way of giving you a compliment!” Or stares, though as a telecommuter, that’s been less of a problem. I get rescued in weird ways, with a “lemme do that for you….” kind of thing.
And it’s a shock and I’m reminded again that it’s a crazy, unbalanced world we’re in.
The thing every single person, male or female, wants most is to be listened to and understood. You don’t have to agree, just don’t say, “you’re wrong” or “Men have it much worse.” Because, y’know, women leave this field at a rate 45% higher than men because men are masochists and enjoy having it much worse, right?
I will go far out of my way and give up sleep to listen to someone, hear them out. If you’re on my team, that’s important to me. Because, as I said before, I work with people, and people are very human.