Today I was staggered to be involved in an email chain amongst my work colleagues which showed just how ingrained some sexism is, how much unconscious bias is sitting beneath the surface, how much we still have to do to eradicate it all – apparently our PA’s birthday present has always been organised by one of the women in our team
Both of whom have now left
Both of whom have left for various work/life balance, need to work somewhere less testosterone fuelled, balancing family type reasons
Which means that we are down to 2 females out of a team of 20
Double sheesh if you consider I moved here because they talked a good talk about being female friendly, family friendly, evolved and inclusive…
Anyway the present has always been sorted by a female. Fair enough but surely that doesn’t mean that only women are capable of taking money off everyone who sits in our corner of the office and buying a stack of John Lewis vouchers with it?
My boss has suddenly woken up to this birthday approaching and has flagged that someone needs to arrange a present – he emailed the half a dozen chaps and me to ask if we had it under control. We don’t. Or rather I’m not going to be here and the chaps hadn’t looked at the team diary and the BIRTHDAY in large letters across one of the days
And bang, straight back, an email volunteering the other female on the team to do it (the good news is I am still too scary for anyone to suggest I do something like this!)
Incidentally there are two equally capable men at the same grade both of whom have a lot less work on and neither of whom has any medical reason to be unable to do this simple task
But no, everyone happily assumed that it was the right thing to ask the female to do this job
Ok we all know why – there is an assumption that somehow women are ‘better’ at this, that we ‘like’ this sort of thing and therefore it’s a nice thing to ask us to do but it isn’t
All it does is show that you do see the women and men in the team differently and you haven’t even considered whether that knee jerk perception is wrong
It is wrong.
It is wrong for all the same reasons that men calling going home to take over childcare in the evenings ‘babysitting’ is wrong, it is wrong for the same reason that assuming that women are naturally ‘better’ at childcare is wrong, it is wrong for the same reason as assuming that women don’t want a career once they have children is wrong
And we are supposed to have moved on from this – we are supposed to have evolved to a point where we don’t need feminism and women and men are able to compete on an equal footing
All this has proved today is that there is a still a bunch of assumptions hard wired into men’s heads that they don’t even notice and that we continue to have to fight every single bogging day
These are the same assumptions that I am sick of battling against, they are the siblings to the little derogatory comments that are the saddening norm in my workplace, they are all little contributing factors to the glass ceiling that still well and truly exists
So how do we start eradicating something so deeply ingrained?
How do we start to evolve from assumptions about ‘traditional’ roles and how the heck do I point out that this is not appropriate without being perceived as a hormonal unreasonable female? Because as we all know if a man suggested that me assuming that they were better at DIY was inappropriate then he would be making a fair point but if a female does something similar then she is being shrill or hormonal or whingey?
How on earth do we finally eradicate sexism before our daughters become target to the same rubbish behaviours we are experiencing?