… penis-colored glasses.
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.