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Sexism at work is not a ‘rare’ instance. Check how many of these situations you have encountered and share your stories in the comments below!
Women face sexism everywhere, the worst is at work. As an IT professional with more than 13 years under my belt, I have seen instances ranging from subtle to terrible – where the professional capability of a woman was not utilized fully due to sexism. The few instances I have encountered personally are recounted below.
This is considered to be the truth by one and all although there is no proof that gender has anything to do with logic. It is assumed that women are bad at programming. I have worked with all women teams, mixed teams and all-men teams. The same bug or programming error that a man can make, when it is made by a woman, is considered to be due to lesser capability. Due to this kind of thinking many times women don’t get to work on the juiciest projects which will provide them more visibility and promotion opportunities. Women are considered to be good testers, and yes that is true – it’s not because of lesser capability but because women are more thorough.
Many women don’t speak up in meetings due to the overwhelming male presence and even when when a woman talks she is interrupted. I have seen this happen so many times – men interrupt when women are talking even when the woman in question is at a senior position than him. They forget that the ideas women bring forth to the table include a different perspective. I agree that risk taking behavior is less in women but remember the best decisions need a good dose of pragmatism along with calculated risks. The recession in 2008 was partly caused by extreme risks taken by financial institutions.
Women are considered the default party planners. I have witnessed birthday parties for team members where after the b’day boy/girl cuts the cake – the remaining cake is cut and served to others by women team members. Why does it need to fall on women? This patriarchal setup made by men to sit and get served without lifting a finger makes me really mad. On top of this, I hear men sniggering at these same women colleagues that they were hired for party planning and not for actual work.
This again is a well parroted myth repeated by male managers. Tell me, how does it make a difference if a woman takes 10 different days off on different months compared to a man who takes 10 days of vacation in the summer to travel? Both in my opinion are similar, it will cost the company the same. What is the women supposed to do if her child is sick? How many fathers volunteer to take care of a sick child? It is like a chicken and egg situation – women are told family should come first no matter what but when she considers family first, she is penalized at work.
I myself work an early shift and many of my friends do the same. But leaving early from work caused a lot of snickering, grumbling and furtive bitching from other team members. However none of these colleagues are present when I come early morning to office. It seems like staying late in office is the only way to work. It doesn’t matter that I meet all the deadlines and my work ethic is immaculate. The managers pretend that they are doing some major favours by letting you work an early shift.
This is another grudge male colleagues hold. Why do women need pay raises or promotions – since their salary is not primary in the household? Women’s salaries are for buying trinkets and for shopping. If that is so, why do men prefer to marry women who are employed? The double standards of men are staggering when you think about it. The fact of the matter is that the homes where women have a say in financial matters and decisions are the most financially sound families. So the lesser risk taking capabilities of ladies do serve them well in some instances.
There is nothing even slightly vacation-like in pushing out a baby from your womb, tending to the infant day and night, dealing with the exertions and stress of breast-feeding, vaccination rounds with doctors, and so on. The body needs time to heal – after all, the woman’s body carried the baby for 9 months and the stress of delivery is another thing all together. How many new fathers are willing to utilize the paternity leave, in case their organization provides the same? It is easy to say women are having a jolly good time during maternity leave but the kind of pressure of being a new mom can only be felt once you are in that position. The hormones after pregnancy are waging a war on your body. It is not easy, ask your mom.
This is another fallacy that makes me laugh. Are people so dumb to believe this? How will this newly promoted woman take care of her job responsibility if she does not have the capability – which company will be stupid enough to promote someone if they don’t have the capability? Flirting skills will get you so far only. Most of the organizations promote inclusion and diversity these days. Women are promoted solely on capability. It is proven that more team goals are achieved when the team is diverse rather than homogeneous.
Although this is an implicit assumption, it is the funniest of all. Why are women asked to bring sweets and snacks to feed their team members? Where does it say women are born with an additional gene for cooking skills? On top of managing the expectations of cooking from family, she has to manage her team members’ expectations for food which is laughable. The comments come from one and all – as if the existence of woman depends solely on cooking and feeding others. This maid mentality is shown mostly by Indian males.
These are not fictional instances, I have personally encountered all of the above situations. It really makes me wonder – after all the progress women have made in every field, the ways in which sexism impacts them at every level is disheartening. The work place is one area where everyone should be rewarded on the basis of their work, not on the basis of pre-conceived notions and biases.
Unfortunately for women, the harder they work, the harder people try to pull them down. But still we need to plod on, miles to go before we sleep!
Top image via Graphicstock
First published at author’s blog.
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