30 March 2022
I believe I’ve been the victim of gender bias. I work in a male-dominated industry and when I was finally given the opportunity for a role with higher duties, I was told I’d done a good job and applied. But they split the job between me and a male co-worker – I was given the admin activities and he does the hands on, staff management work. The only reason given as to why was that my male co-worker would likely resign otherwise. When I’ve raised instances of bias with (male) managers, I’m told “there is no such thing as unconscious bias” or “bias doesn’t happen in our workplace”, despite me saying that’s not my experience. How can you raise unconscious bias without looking like you’re making excuses for your own performance? Is it better to just walk away from a company where the managers deny the existence of something just because they have never experienced it?
There is so much to unpack in your question so let me get right to the point – I think it may be time for you to move on. It is inexplicable that you can be told that your experience of your workplace is incorrect. Your male managers are effectively questioning the validity of your experience being a woman in a male-dominated environment; something they have never lived themselves. What you describe is classic systemic gender bias and using the term “unconscious” bias is generous at best.
The time, effort and emotional load of having to educate the male managers in your workplace will, sadly, wear you down. If there is another woman at work you can confide in and seek advice from, do it. But otherwise I encourage you to find a workplace that respects you for what you contribute and won’t gaslight you into thinking that somehow a systemic issue is a personal problem. I know moving on won’t fix your current workplace but it will help you move into a role where you are truly valued.
I’ve been at my employer for five years, have been promoted in that time and I like my workplace. I did my boss’ job for three months recently while he was on leave. Now he is leaving his position and I’m being encouraged to apply. I didn’t love the additional stress of doing his role and it includes responsibilities that are outside my comfort zone. But I’m worried if I don’t take a leap, I’ll regret it and may never get such an opportunity again – at least not one where I have the advantage of knowing the people and role so well. I worry I’ll be bored in five years if I don’t make a move but I’m not a risk-taker and I value my work-life balance. How can I decide whether to apply?
Say yes! I am a firm believer in saying yes to opportunities when they come along as you never know where they might take you. I know it feels uncomfortable and you probably feel like you don’t have the precise experience needed but trust in your employer. They have clearly seen potential in you that you may not have seen yourself. I am sure when you think back you may have felt nervous to take on the role you are in now or even the promotion you were offered. That is completely understandable and we all have that voice of Imposter Syndrome in our heads. Remember, the more you do the role and make it your own, the easier and less stressful it will become. If you know you will be bored in 5 years if you don’t take the role, then I suspect you already know what to do since the stress of being bored will also impact your life outside work. Good luck!
I don’t know how to deal with the fact there are some people in my office who use the communal basin in the bathroom at work to do a RAT. I reckon it’s gross but some people seem to think it’s fine. On top of that, my workplace openly names who has COVID whereas I remember a time when privacy concerns meant that didn’t happen. What is the best way to handle these issues at work now that COVID seems to just be part of life?
Office etiquette issues we never knew we would need to confront! I am with you that someone doing a RAT in the office bathroom is pretty disgusting (not to mention potentially a health risk). I reckon employers need to say a firm no to that one. As for naming who is unwell, I agree it does seem to be just a part of life now and there is no stigma or shame attached to having COVID. If you are someone who would prefer their COVID status remained confidential, I would make sure you tell your employer that if you catch it. They do need to respect your preferences when it comes to your personal health. But my sense is that for the vast majority of people it is becoming just like having a cold, which is not something most have been particularly private about in the past.
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