Skip to content

… penis-colored glasses.

June 22, 2010

Remember those alternative ending books we had when we were young?

Imagine you and another person have worked very hard at a company to develop an entirely new group. This group has specific tasks, is significant in your company’s output and revenue, and supports other groups. However, it is independent. Basically, the two of you built this thing yourself – from a need you saw in the industry.

If you are a man: You will be rewarded and supported along the way.

If you are a woman: You struggle to get the thing done – despite the clear value of this group and its work. You have no increase in pay or official recognition – despite clearly being successful.

Imagine that, once things get rolling, the other person who did this with you left the company. Someone cannot step into the shoes of your previous partner: what you do requires significant training and experience.

If you are a man: The new hire will naturally be your subordinate – he needs a lot of training and experience, and it is just natural that you take control. You built the damn thing.

If you are a woman: The new hire will immediately be seen as your equal by those around you. Despite lack of training and experience.

Imagine you spend the next two years putting your heart and soul into your work. Literally. You are also very good at what you do.

If you are a man: You will be rewarded officially with increased pay and promotion. Perhaps you now have more than one person working under you – you may move to an even more managerial role to reflect your competence and experience. They do most of the daily work on some things, while you maintain your own projects in addition to checking and managing their work.

If you are a woman: Many of your colleagues will take you for granted. You will be given additional tasks with no additional compensation. Despite this and all the work you are doing that they’re not, your male counterparts will be viewed as your equals. At the very least.

Imagine there is a meeting between you, your boss, and another group about collaborative and on-going work. You have been managing this work, but the other person in your group does the actual work on the project on a daily basis. They do not attend the meeting.

If you are a man: You are already in charge of this group and the other person is below you, both in how people view you and officially. Thus, it is natural that you are the one present in the meeting. Afterward, you discuss the outcome with your subordinate, who let’s you know any concerns or questions he/she has.

If you are a woman: You think that, finally, after all this work and all this time, you are being accepted for the role you always should have had within your group.

Yet… if you are a woman and the other person, who should have always been your subordinate is a man, he might be offended he wasn’t invited to the meeting. He expresses as much to your boss – who decides he’s right (of course) and apologizes profusely.

And you find yourself back at square one.

In addition, the should-have-been-subordinate is hurt that you didn’t include him in the meeting. He doesn’t see it as professional, he takes it personally.

Why? Not because he’s a jerk. He’s not. He’s just been conditioned to believe that he is entitled to be viewed as an equal. That if you work on something, you are in charge of it. Even if someone does, informally, manage you on it, you are still their equal and in control of your work.

Even though he agrees wholeheartedly that you are better at your job, that you do deserve to be his superior, that you should be recognized in a different light than him…

Because he doesn’t really understand, even if he wishes he did, that this is not how it works as a woman. You fight for being equal, even if you’re more. You work for everything, and are not entitled to anything.

It’s not that we don’t understand. We do. But we also know it’s very difficult to understand, to see this, if you have those penis-colored glasses on (even if you wish you didn’t, or can’t see them in the first place… that really isn’t your fault… exactly…)

YES you know it’s his project, in the sense that he works on it regularly. You agree that he has a say in what happens with that work. But it is YOUR FUCKING GROUP.

This is a true story. Well, ok, the “If you are a woman” parts are true. The “If you are a man” parts are informed hypotheses based on a substantial and growing body of evidence.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 5:11 am

    Luckily for women patriarchy seems to be slowly on it’s way out. For the first time in history there are more women then men in the workforce. More men get laid off than women in harsh economic times, and more and more men are doing domestic work, staying home to raise the children. In Korea it has been almost overnight that women have gained over men in the work force. And the oft quoted statistic of women earning less then men for the same job is loosing it’s truth.

    • June 23, 2010 10:02 pm

      I hope so. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Although right now I am blessed to be at a job where I never feel unequal, I have friends who are still dealing with this – from bosses and colleagues who are men AND women. They are overworked, underpaid, and their boss STILL thinks having a penis = the sun shines out of your ass … even if you don’t DO anything and leave work at 4:30. Problem is, they might not even KNOW they’re being sexist. And would be insulted if someone told him/her that.

      I agree that times are changing – but the problem now is that many men, and many women, truly believe this to be the case… while harboring unconscious preference for men. It’s more shocking but easier to address blatant bias, but when the person can’t even see it – it’s impossible. Women may be employed, and maybe we’re starting to close the salary gap but… there are more hidden issues. I wrote on this earlier too – if you’re interested… (in March) which has a couple additional articles on this point, including a good one from Newsweek.

      PS – thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. Dave permalink
    September 9, 2010 4:09 pm

    This happens to men too. When choosing the manager of a group a number of factors are taken into account, and very often ‘innovators’ or ‘originators’ make poor long term managers. In addition, women have an exasperating habit of disappearing to have babies, with a complete loss of interest in the job.

    Sorry, but that is my opinion.

  3. Dave permalink
    September 9, 2010 4:10 pm

    No more comments from me as I don’t want to upset too many people!


    • September 9, 2010 6:41 pm

      You can certainly post more comments, I don’t think we’re upset.

      However – please post them as yourself. While I found the conversation you left amusing, let’s stick with honesty, shall we?

      PS: When you post comments, it tells me your e-mail address. Every time. Just FYI.

  4. September 9, 2010 6:45 pm

    As per your earlier comment, Dave, I actually agree with you completely.

    And I have my own, quite un-PC, thoughts on women who leave jobs to have children. I actually think parents, both men and women, should take having children much more seriously. It is going to change your career. Period. You don’t get to leave for months, have your colleagues pick up the slack, and then expect to come right back in where you left off.

    My beef is that we need to change, as a society, the idea that it has to be the woman who does this. One of y’all needs to, but can just as easily be the dude. If neither of you wants to make the sacrifice, then you should probably think more about your choice to have children.

    And that is my, I-have-no-children-so-I-don’t-have-to-make-a-choice opinion.

  5. Dave permalink
    September 10, 2010 4:13 am

    “PS: When you post comments, it tells me your e-mail address. Every time. Just FYI.”

    My pc is fully protected against malware Nikkio4. Is yours?


    • September 10, 2010 8:43 am

      Um. I meant that I knew all the comments were from you. It wasn’t a threat. I hope yours wasn’t either. I am not sure how this disintegrated so quickly…. ? I thought you were being funny. :-/

      • Dave permalink
        September 10, 2010 12:48 pm

        Oh, I’m sorry, I thought there was an implied thread there, so I responded with a warning. I am really sorry.

        I meant to be humorous in my fake comments, but perhaps I misjudged things, and other’s sense of humour.

      • Dave permalink
        September 10, 2010 12:48 pm

        thread = threat

        tch tch!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: