Friday, May 24, 2013

Girls Club: Bias

Another session, and another roundtable discussion that was actually a discussion, with active listening, weighing of matters and consideration given to the various facets of the topic that could be squished in over a late (and tasty) breakfast.

(I have to plug Trunk, because their breakfast menu is incredibly delicious and a Golden Gaytime milkshake? Whoever came up with this is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.)

This video was used as a reference point, and so the particular angle at which the idea of gender bias was approached was geared very much toward the what is encountered in professional circles. This was, for me, a conversation more listened to that contributed to, as I am in the minority in that my dayjob is not my career, and bias tends to become an obstacle particularly when one is trying to advance oneself, when one has ambition and when one can be considered competition, and thus a threat.

A great many disheartening stories which related not only to gender to but to age bias as well. What interested me most, however, was not that judgement should be equal regardless of gender, but the idea that what needs to be  promoted is not only the presence of women in power and responsibility, but the positivity of what have previously been considered 'feminine' traits, and negatively at that.

(Apologies for the wiffy-waffy sentence structure.)

For example, from the article 'To Bake or Not to Bake':
"You bake for work?" Her tone was less curious than it was accusatory. "I thought you were more ambitious than that."
Baking, the preparation of food (I specifically say 'food' and not 'cuisine'), has long been considered the realm of the woman, as the kitchen is where a woman belongs. A woman's work not being considered of any real importance, to engage in this activity, publically, is perceived as a sign of weakness on behalf of the professional woman, to the point that other professional women will see this as a betrayal.

To be successful is, therefore, still measured according to male-inclined criteria, and that which falls into female criteria is to fail. To be feminine to is to fail. We must become men to be successful.


Nothing is gained by shaving down triangle blocks to fit into square holes. Nothing changes, nothing is improved.

So I just wanted to take this opportunity to applaud not only the women I have worked beneath in my time, but the men who have not adhered to overly-macho dickwad 'masculinity' behavioural models that sadly dominate most corporate culture.

I have worked beneath such men, and in all instances the work environment was mostly crap, involving unbalanced expectations and assumptions, unnecessary favouritism and almost universally poor communication.

My current manager is quite the opposite sort of gentleman. The fact that he takes his time to listen to and consider things, is patient, understanding of the human factors involved in this line of work, and is willing to teach as well as learn makes this one of the most comfortable offices I have ever worked in.

Are these feminine qualities? I believe they are sensible, practical traits; it had not occurred to me to think of them as gendered until now.

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