Workplace Warfare

Q and I finally got round to having breakfast together and the sports car-driving Miss Legs took me to Cedele for some coffee, scones and toast. (Trans Atlantic, eh?) Unfortunately, we had so much to update each other on that we forgot to take pictures of our glamourous breakfast, and the above arse-faced picture that is all you are getting.

At the centre of our exuberant discussion was our place in the working world. More specifically, the place of young women in the modern working world. Young women who were capable, hardworking and candid. Young women who should be successful, but are instead sidelined, passed over, thumbed down and called names.

Though Q and I worked in vastly different fields, the challenges we face are the same. Because we are of a certain age – we are green/immature/ignorant. Because we are single – we can put in longer hours. Because we care about how we look and dress – we are considered bimbos/airheads/getting ahead with our looks. Because we stand up for what is right – we are aggressive. Because we speak up – we are b*tchy.

The bit that stings the most? That it’s not just the men who say/think that.

I’d recently read a great article by an artist and businesswoman I’d looked up to for years, Megan Hunt aka Princess Lasertron. In her piece, Megan touched on the general lack of support and encouragement (deserving) women receive in the business world.

To add on to what she has already pointed out so eloquently, what saddens me most is that there are other women, who probably experience the same uphill battles we have to fight at our workplace every day, just waiting tear us down. Just as depressing, are the young ladies we see using their tears and sweetheart appeal as bargaining chips to win themselves better schedules, easier tasks, and choice projects.

What happened to everyone pulling their own weight? What happened to doing your part and helping others along? Did I miss something somewhere?

How these female beings imagine they would win the respect of others around them, especially that of the opposite sex which they so frequently crave, I have no idea. Just as I have no clue as to how crying has come to equate power. All I know is that they give other women – women who are not afraid of hard work; women who embrace their intelligence; women who enjoy pitting themselves against the best, regardless of gender – a bad name.

Megan’s piece was quickly followed by Do unto others… by Sarah Parmenter… which in turn, linked me up to Rachel Andrew’s Be kind to one another. These two were reminders that people have to be respectful and decent about the way they communicate with others, especially in our Über wired world.

And at the heart of these articles is the question, do we need to be ‘thick skinned and aggressive’ in order to succeed?

To be fair, I have been most fortunate to have had many excellent female role models: Momo, my Upper Secondary Literature Teacher, my two supervisors at work (BEST. BOSSES. EVER.), the girls who share my cubicle, Ms F, Melb, WL, Shazza, Q herself… the list goes on. These women are successful. They know how to hold their own. They follow their moral compasses, yet are flexible enough to bend when they know their gut is right. They handle the trickiest situations with class. Most importantly, they treat the people around them with love and fairness.

Yet some of the experiences my girlfriends and I have had certainly suggest aggression is in order: pompous coworkers who barge into your workstations when you aren’t around because ‘it is shared property’, senior position holders giving their assistants bad grades purely due to incompatible working styles, colleagues who steal your pitches to pass them off as your own, bosses who badmouth you in public, or worst… in front of your charges.

Much as I’ve always maintained that being ”honest with your opinion and generous with your ideas” is the best way to go… Sometimes… just sometimes… I know deep down in my soul, that people have to be put in their places, and firmly so.

The fact remains, that be it man or woman, superior or subordinate, adult or child; we can all treat each other well, and with the due respect that any fellow human being deserves.

But should the respect due to you be ‘Very Little’, don’t be surprised if you are treated as such.

P/s: Haters… I’ll wear my falsies and fancy shoes if I want to, thankyouverymuch.

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