wshaffer (wshaffer) wrote,

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.
Tags: professional communicator, workin' for the (wo)man

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