So at my new job, similar to my old job, there is a women’s club. In a male-dominated field this is a great way to connect with other women and raise issues and ideas for resolutions to make our company a better place for gender equality.
At my last job our Women’s Club met monthly or so and brought in guest speakers, put on STEM events for the school-aged children in the community and attended events recognizing achievements of women. It was also inclusive, men were invited and always encouraged to attend (though not many did). It was something that I learned many lessons from, including resume and interview building, ways to support my career path, how to negotiate and never sell myself short (very important ladies!!) and many other skills. Most importantly, I (almost) always felt empowered and proud.
Last week was the first time I attended a Women’s Club meeting at my new job. The previous one was on International Women’s Day, before I started working here. I was really looking forward to what this women’s club would bring to my new job experience.
It started out with my boss bringing up a ‘list’ that was made on their previous meeting. Things on there ranged from nursing rooms, to ‘don’t cut the cake’, to ‘kill your own bugs’ and many other things.
A couple of good initiatives came out of it.
My first week I was excited to go to the ‘store’ to buy some company zip ups, only to find that they were mostly men’s sizes, the man running the store said he thought there wasn’t a difference. Umm… there is a huge difference when I am swimming in a Men’s small, and it isn’t flattering at all. And then he said “Well, those bright pink ones probably aren’t for men.” So I looked at it and they were women’s sizes, in which I needed a medium and it actually fit nice. But as a woman, the only option I had for nice fitting clothes, was a bright pink zip up (I did not get one BTW, hot pink is not very flattering, and not always super appropriate in a professional setting). We did bring this up in the meeting and there is an action item to bring this to the store’s attention as a larger initiative. I will be pretty excited to buy some neutral color zip ups in women’s sizes should they get some.
There was also talk about guys asking women when they are going to have kids. And as you all know, this is NOT OKAY! I 100% agree with that. It turns out that the room was split about 50/50 on choosing to not have kids. Which is great, I am all for those kinds of decisions, as I feel that a lot of people just have kids because they are expected to, which isn’t a great reason in my opinion. I guess some of the women are being told that they are ‘selfish’ for not wanting kids and that ‘you are a woman, you will want to be a mom’ which are horrible things to say and very sexist! Those kinds of things should not be tolerated.
But this is where things started to get unproductive and started turning into a “She-woman Man-Haters club”
These women were talking about being mad when male coworkers said these things. So I spoke up and said “It is completely inappropriate for ANYONE, man OR WOMAN, to ask anyone (again, man or woman) anything about their reproductive life. It is absolutely none of anyone else’s business and you have no idea what that person may be going through and the feeling that you may be bringing up that could really hurt them.”
Personally, I feel that more women ask those kinds of questions to other women, but that is just my experience. I certainly don’t think it is by and far more men that do anyway. But it is inappropriate and hurtful coming from both.
So my boss then said to the group “And what do you say when someone asks those things?” and the one woman just said “I tell them it is none of their damn business” and she is right. But I do feel like men need to be explained to why sometimes. I really don’t think that men AND women that ask these things are doing so with ill-intentions. And my approach has always been to explain to them that asking people those things are very private and personal and inappropriate. And letting them know that they have no idea what someone else is going through. It really makes them think the next time they go to ask someone that. Whereas just being rude and mean about it doesn’t help anyone out in the long run. Again, just my personal opinion.
And from there the anger kept going. I mean… they were upset when guys held doors open for them. They found that as a male-dominant act. I’m pretty sure it is just a courtesy. I mean, I’d be more mad if a guy shut a door in my face. And that we need to stop being a damsel in distress, and that we can’t cut the cake at events, make a guy do it, and we have to kill our own bugs.
I guess I am not going to fit into this group. They don’t seem to understand that everyone is different. I like cooking and serving people, and I am not going to kill my own bugs! It isn’t a ‘damsel’ thing, it is a ME thing! And I think that makes them think that I am a ‘weaker woman’ because of it. (And yes, the term ‘weaker woman’ was used at one point, used to describe someone who couldn’t take a probably distasteful joke. And that was the one thing that made ME angry.) But let’s be honest, some actions ARE more feminine by nature and a lot of women enjoy those things! And we can’t ignore the fact that we are physically different.
I feel that every woman should be respected for what she chooses to do, whether in a male-dominated job or a historically female job, or some combination of both! Why must we fit into 1 of 2 buckets? We don’t have to!
But sitting in a room complaining about things men do and say (when a lot of women are just as guilty of the same things) isn’t helping the atmosphere. I talked to some of my male coworkers after and they had no idea women got upset about some of those things (the he/she narrative being one of them too, one that I often correct people on) how could they know if people sit around in a room and no one invites them or tells them?
For a group that should be fighting for equal rights for women, they seemed very angry and judgmental.
Maybe the next meeting will be different. I hope so. I guess I will let you all know!
You are all strong and amazing. Not one of you ladies is weak. I don’t care what you choose to do. Love yourself! I do!