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Things are Equal in the Workplace, SAID THE MAN TO THE WOMAN

Things are Equal in the Workplace, SAID THE MAN TO THE WOMAN

It had been an insane week at work, one that left me in a cocoon from the real world. Needless to say, the news I did catch this week kind of left me happy to be out of the loop. But I did see something about a vote? About equal pay for women? Or something? And how it was VOTED DOWN?

I don’t know; I clearly didn’t do my research here. And for once, instead of actually reading up on it, I just charged into a conversation full of piss and vinegar and said I couldn’t believe that it would get voted down.

And a guy said, “Why is that vote even NECESSARY?”

And I said, “I know, right? IT’S 2012, Y’ALL.”

And he said, “No, I mean, why is it necessary because women already have it equal in the workplace.”


So I thought I’d start a catalogue here. Most of our readers are either working ladies or moms who have been in the workplace at one point in time.

So let’s talk about how things are NOT QUITE EQUAL, wanna?

I have three stories that always come to memory first when I think of “women in the workplace”:

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  1. I had a guy bring me a bunch of bananas on a weekly basis. He said it was because he knew I was trying to eat more healthy, and I thought it was very sweet of him. Whenever I’d start to eat a banana, he’d come and find a reason to talk to me. IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME AND A HELL OF A LOT OF BANANAS TO FIGURE OUT WHY HE WANTED TO WATCH.
  2.  I worked for a manager who was very sweet. He was very much “above board” .. to the point that it almost hurt my feelings. He was so worried about the possible appearance of impropriety that he would not speak to me when I was alone. He would not allow me to close his office door behind me if it was just us in there. For my birthday, he offered to take me to lunch, but his wife would have to chaperone us. I could not be trusted, apparently. It was so odd. And it really did hurt my feelings, like I was suspect ALL THE TIME. (.. looking back, it could’ve been the bananas.)
  3. When I came to work for the space side, we were a relatively small team. I was kind of a person who knew random bits of “how to”s in our office, and it wasn’t at all uncommon that something would malfunction and people came tearing through my office looking for me. One afternoon, a man came in, bellowing for me and me alone. He needed me NOW .. it was an EMERGENCY, he said .. and I needed to come right away. I left my lunch half-eaten and my project open and unfinished and left to go help. We passed about six other members of my staff – all men – on the way back to his meeting room. I hurried into the meeting room to about thirty men sitting in there. “Okay,” the gentleman said, “.. we can continue now that a girl is here to take minutes.” I KID YOU NOT. I still remember the flush and the fire that consumed my face when I realized that he had hunted me down because A) I had ovaries and B) that meant only I could take his minutes.

(#1 and #3 no longer work at my company.)

SO! What’s your story? We all have a couple, and I can’t WAIT to hear yours.


View Comments (9)
  • My husband and I follow the same rules as number two. We trust each other, not necessarily others, and we want to avoid the look of impropriety at all costs. Good for him.

    • Louise – when I first read Sarah’s post, I never thought of #2 from the wife perspective and it could be that was his reason for acting like that. However, I still think it’s a shame that in certain workplaces, men and women can’t seem to work together without the “look of impropriety”. As the Director of Development at a private school in North Carolina, I had numerous meetings with the Head of School (male) that were private due to the topics we were discussing (primarily our constituents finances). If he had felt the same way you and your husband feel, I basically couldn’t have done that job. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

    • In a professional work environment all sides should be trusted to act professionally. There should not be the fear of looking ‘inappropriate’. If the manager in scenario #2 has closed door meetings, private conversations and meals with male coworkers then the same should apply to any woman working in that office. Anything else is a clear double standard and, IMO, unprofessional

  • The last time I was pregnant, a male manager told me he wished he got maternity leave so he could take “a six-week vacation.” YES. Because life with a newborn is exactly like a vacation.

    And don’t even get me started on the pitiful state of maternity leave/support in our country…

  • Sarah, I can’t believe these type of things still happen to women in the workplace. I work in a predominantly female field (advance practice nursing) and to that end I’m naive of the sexism which still occurs in many other fields. So sad my fellow females are still subjected to such craziness.

  • I’ve worked at a car dealership for several years. I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to be a female in this business.

  • Sadly I have learned to never joke or socialize with women at work. When a woman shows up the joking stops. By the way I don’t work in an office setting. We can talk and joke while we work. But we don’t do it with women around. Too many guys fired for sexual harassment over stupid stuff because they were comfortable with the girl like she was one of the guys. So all of us guys just stopped talking to the women unless it was directly related to work. When they leave we go back to talking and we never invite them out the bar after work or go to lunch with them. It just isn’t safe.

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