Story on Women in the Workplace
City: Los Angeles
Don’t call me attractive at work.
As women, we talk a lot about unfair treatment of men to women in the workplace, but sometimes we overlook how we treat each other. In order to get ahead, we play into the “Boy's Club” and forget to empower each other. Female bosses want to gossip with their female employees, but only talk business with male employees. They complement a woman's looks or way of dress, while they complement a man's proposals or ability to close a deal.
In order to get ahead, I try to look a certain way (thin, pretty, put-together) and act a certain way (smiling, cheerful, obedient). I'm just here to make your job easier. But I've also sought out opportunities to grow and learn – I draft proposals, write annual donor reports and prospect letters, draw up contracts, communicate with prospects, and other duties that go way beyond the scope of what many think an assistant's does.
I was excited for my year review with my department's deputy director. I was hoping the extra time and energy I put in for the company would not go unnoticed and lead to the promotion I'd been promised. The review itself started well enough. She noted how much I had improved this year and how far she thought I could go in our line of work because I am "organized, smart, poised....” Then she said, "and ATTRACTIVE." I mean, I know she was just being honest, but come on! How many male employees heard that during their reviews this year? Can you imagine her having said "Thank God you're attractive Steve, we never would have signed that deal with X company if you weren't so pretty." No, that doesn't happen
It was disappointing to hear a strong woman I respect bring up something I was hoping didn't matter to her. There was not one thing brought up about any of the beautiful proposals I'd put together, or the letters I stayed late writing for our Board. We get enough sexism from the men around us and we need to be able to support each other. We need to stop talking about our looks and focus on our skills. It’s definitely a lesson I’ll remember when I’m reviewing someone else somewhere down the line.