Women and the workplace- are we too emotional?

This is a post I wrote on my friend’s site.

McMinn Writes

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately.  Enjoy!

Trying to make it in the working world is tough, no doubt about it.  Male or female, people in the workplace have to face trials and obstacles on a regular basis.  Problems pile up at a maddening rate and reactions occur– we’ve all seen it!  As a female, and a sensitive one at that, I find that my natural coping mechanism is tears.  I’m not irrational (don’t ask my husband that question!) but I am very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others around me.  So, what does a crier do in the workplace?  Especially a workplace where the majority of the executive staff is male?

First: An Article On “The Problem”

There are essentially 3 “damned if you, damned if you don’t” contradictions with women in the workplace.  This is based on an American survey done for management-issues.com that talk about the automatic gender stereotypes.  I have experienced at least one of these things recently.

1.  No matter how we look at it, we’re combating gender stereotypes.  If we act “feminine,” we’re too soft.  If we act like a man, we’re too tough.  So what are we to be?  An incompetent push-over, or a “bitch”?

2. Often, women are held to higher standards with less reward. What hurts us in this regard is that we have to work twice as hard in order to be seen as competent.  The competency we would receive if we were male does not come as automatically.  We have to break out of the preconceived notions of our frailty before we can be taken seriously.

3. “Third, when women exhibit traditionally valued leadership behaviors such as assertiveness, they tend to be seen as competent but not personable or well-liked. Yet when they adopt a more stereotypically feminine style they are liked but not seen as having valued leadership skills.” (emphasis mine)

I, obviously, have a more stereotypically feminine style, which means I am typically viewed as weak and “lacking leadership.”  This came as a recent shock to me, considering I had been in leadership for 15 years.  I did not know I was not a leader!

Second: Some Advice On Resolving The Issue

This advice comes from Vault, a career search and advice site.  It essentially gives 3 clear cut instructions on managing the workplace.

1.Distinguish between personal friendships and work relationships. Basically, leave your work friends as work friends.  Keep a professional distance. Don’t be a gossip.

2. Be the “Bitch”. (I just feel it’s best to quote this entire segment)

“It’s a well-known double standard — a man stands his ground, and he is called authoritative. A woman stands her ground, and she is called a bitch. A woman may be labeled “bitchy” for saying the same thing a man could say without repercussion. Anticipate these responses and move beyond them.

  • Stay firm. Do not raise your voice. Never, ever whine.
  • Always listen attentively to a different view and try to understand other perspectives. But It’s perfectly appropriate to say “no” if you have good reasons to counter objections.
  • Learn to present your views and arguments in a linear, logical fashion. Otherwise, your valid points will be lost, and you may even be considered “irrational.”
  • Manage your day and control factors that make you cranky. Try to avoid situations that you know will set you off. For example, if you can’t stand a certain co-worker, try not to work with that person. If you can’t stand a certain manager, try to present your findings to a more sympathetic listener. If you get cranky when you are tired, make sure you get enough sleep before important meetings. If you get cranky when you are hungry, stock snacks in your office and eat them!”

3. Crying in the workplace.  Essentially, it’s okay to do it on occasion, because it’s natural.  However, if you find yourself crying all the time in front of co-workers or bosses, they’re going to think you’re emotionally unstable.  Too many tears mean it’s time to find another job.

Conclusion: What Do You Think?

Are women too emotional in the workplace?  Are emotions considered acceptable?

I find that I am not good at “being the bitch”.  Consequently, my leadership skills and qualities are greatly diminished and I have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.  Also, as a woman, I find myself working two full-time jobs.  My day does not end when I walk out of the workplace.  Often, I find myself on my feet well into the darkness.  Meals have to be prepared, laundry has to be washed, errands have to be ran.  I have also been told that I don’t “focus enough” on my job.  I am requested to check my e-mail, messages, and have my cell phone on at all times.

There is a serious double-standard in the workplace.  Is gender discrimination over?  What do you think?


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