Recently software developer Jonathan Doklovic compared Maven, a plug-in execution framework, to his girlfriend at a tech conference in Berlin. He stated, “she looks beautiful she ‘complains a lot, demands my attention, interrupts me when I’m working’…” . I do not need to quote further, you get the idea. To be clear, it may have been an attempt to use humor but the ideas were clearly a poor choice. Could we still be dealing with such obvious stereotypes of women?
We tend to discuss sex role stereotypes focusing women at work and the struggle to meet a work/life balance. In Sheryl Sandberg‘s book “Lean In,” she suggests women should engage themselves in the workplace. Her book began a conversation about how decisions we make impact long term opportunities. The ideas led to many women and men to think introspectively about life choices. Notice we include men in this thought provolking disccusion.
Women also need to understand office politics, highlighted in What Works for Women at Work, by Rachel Dempsey. Dempsey identifies four patterns that affect working women: Prove-It-Again!, the Tightrope, the Maternal Wall, and the Tug of War. Each pattern requires different strategies. For example, understanding informal communication uncovers influencers and can highlight power relationships. This knowledge is beneficial because women can anticipate strategies that others may use.
How does the discussion about women at work promote the reduction of sexism? Statistically, women are receiving more college degress than are men, women make up a greater proportion of the work force and we are a force in creating change. The decisions we make as individuals is only one piece of the complex puzzle of combating sexism. While many people believe sexism in its overt forms exist in the past, we need not look far to see examples in daily life. We can change sexist behaviors by stating expectations we have of others, holding people accountable for their actions and engage in work performance standards based on performance regardless of sex.