November 1st, 2013


Adventures in Aunthood, Halloween edition

Younger Nephew Critiques the Historical Accuracy of My Costume
Went trick-or-treating with my nephews and niece. (Why doesn't the English language have a single non-gendered collective noun for "the kids whose aunt I am?") I wore my fuzzy Warrior Dash helmet as a token "costume".

Younger nephew: What's your costume?
Me: I'm a Viking.
Younger nephew: You can't be a Viking, because [insert unintelligible 4-year old explanation here, that I think involved Viking helmets not being furry.] (thinks hard) You could be a buffalo, because they have horns and lots of fur.
Me: Okay, I'm a buffalo.

Older Nephew Educates Me on Pop Culture
At one point when we were out trick-or-treating, one of the houses that had a big soundsystem going took a break from playing "Thriller" on infinite repeat to play "I'm a Believer".

Older Nephew: I know this song!
Me: Yes, it's by the Monkees.
Older Nephew: Noooo, there aren't any monkeys in Shrek!

Youngest Niece Demonstrates a Positive Attitude
Youngest Niece, who will be two in January, unexpectedly refused to put on a costume at the last minute, but thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of walking up to people's doors and receiving candy. However, my favorite part of the evening was probably reading her Green Eggs and Ham, because she responds to every question uttered in the text with a tiny enthusiastic "Yeah!"

"Would you, could you, in the rain?" "Yeah!"
"Would you, could you, on a train?" "Yeah!"

It would have been a very short book if she'd been the protagonist. Sam-I-am would come along and say, "Do you like green eggs and ham?" and she'd reply, "Yeah!" and we'd be done.
pondering, bowie

Food for thought

So, often when I read articles about sexism in the workplace, I find myself saying to myself, "Of course, I know this stuff happens, but I'm very fortunate to not have to deal with that."

And then articles like this Guardian piece come along, and I'm like, "Oh. That. Yeah."

...almost everything a woman does at work is considered "a favor" that is off the clock. To put it another way, when a woman takes on a project no one else will, or does something helpful or thoughtful, it's seen as something she does for fun. When a man does it, it seen as real work.

The revelation of this structural ingratitude explains a lot. It's a pivotal point in understanding a key issue in workplaces: why can't women form lasting alliances, even though they spend more time contributing to their organizations by mentoring?

Alliances are often based on favors; if a favor is not counted, a potential ally is lost.

This plays out in complicated ways - I've actually made a lot of progress in my career by volunteering to do stuff that other people wouldn't or couldn't. And it's not like I'm never thanked or acknowledged for going the extra mile. But I have observed that merely "being helpful" often doesn't buy you as much as saying, "Sure, I'd like to contribute to your project - let me talk to my manager to see if she can spare some of my time for this." Or asking people to help me and then making sure their contributions are publicly recognized.