Working in a Men’s World

Today, I read an article that came across in my Twitter by inc.com, I often refer to that site for inspirations, and what I read truly shocked me.

The article states the huge disadvantage for female counterparts in the technology industry particularly in the Silicon Valley, according to a survey conducted on 200 women with at least 10 years of experiences, with the questions focusing on 5 areas: Feedback & Promotion, Inclusion, Unconscious biases, Motherhood, and Harassment & Safety.

I have been in the technology industry for 10 years in two different countries. Let’s look at some of the listed items in the survey and discuss them.

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84% have been told that they are too aggressive

I’m not sure if I resound in that. In fact, I am rather told I am too soft when comes to pursuing results because I rather believe results are based on capabilities and not by snatching businesses behind someone’s back. I also chose to talk at the same level with my staff, rather than talking down to them. I chose to pursue a common understanding with my team rather than to bark instructions. And if the above makes me too soft, so be it because I produce results with my team backing me up.

However, I pursue my own principles and beliefs. When I see something needs to be right, I will not hesitant to point it out. If I see someone being bullied at the workplace, I will report to HR. Does that make me aggressive?

47% have been asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do ie. note taking and lunch buying

I have not come across that. I suppose my bosses usually will get their own lunch and as for note taking, I don’t think it was ever specifically targeted at me. In fact, I rather it targetted at me since I often contributed ideas across the table and I probably would use the chance to elaborate more on the ideas I raised in the minutes taking. Haha!

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75% have been asked about their family life, marital status and children in interviews

This I totally agree! I have been asked so much, I truly lost count. One bad experience I had encountered was when I went for an interview many years ago for an insurance company applying as a personal assistant. The interviewer told me I passed his expectations and was looking forward to work with me. As I turned to exit, his parting question was whether I would love to have kids someday and I replied I would. I didn’t hear from the company for a month thus I chose to call in and find out what happen, especially since the interviewer has explicitly told me I made the mark. His words that pierced through my heart was that he did not want to risk having me go on maternity leave and burdening him with finding a replacement. My gosh, I was only 21 years old! I wasn’t ready for the world yet, let alone having kids right now when I’m fresh out of school.

But I have not encounter that in the tech industry, in fact, my ex-bosses often encourage family life as we locked ourselves with a laptop, cooped up with hardly social interactions.

65% of women who report unwanted sexual advances had received advances from a superior, with half receiving advances more than once

1 in 3 has felt afraid of their personal safety because of work related circumstances

It is truly sad and disappointed to have to work in a place where you constantly in fear, whether it is due to sexual harassment or safety. Nobody should feel that way in a work environment. I advocate strongly against bully in workplaces. I am fortunate not to come across any creeps or not a target for the lecherous in the tech industry, in fact, I find the guys rather shy and quiet. But I did encounter harassment in the retail industry where I find sales folks are likely to be more egoistic and arrogant than tech guys. It’s who they are that makes them so good at their job.

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88% have experienced clients/ colleagues address questions to male peers that should be addressed to them

Yes, it happens and yes, in the tech world, although I don’t think it is specifically only happened in the tech world but people do have a tendancy to think that Tech and Men go hand in hand and having a female in a tech team throws them off balance. This is also why technical sales team often hire attractive females sales executives to throw clients off balance, in hope, they would not ask difficult technical questions.

I take that as a challenge rather than a setback. To change a person’s mind is possible even during a short hour meeting. I relished seeing surprise and delight on my counterpart’s face when I presented a brilliant idea. Does that mean I have to work harder than my male coworkers? No. I just have to work smarter.

 

Let us know if you have encountered the above situation that you are dealt unfairly in the comments below.

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57 comments

  1. There still is a stigma in msny areas of the working world against women speaking out.
    When men are strong sounding they are “assertive” or considered “confident.”
    Kally, you are right women saying the same thing may be considered “aggressive.” Nicely presented. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not in the tech industry but I’ve been in technical work and management for 15 years, and in academia for a few years before that.
    Told too aggressive. Yes, when ideas were being solicited from a small circle of men and I went ahead and brought an idea to the invited team. But in the end they took my idea anyway.

    Asked to get the food/take the notes, etc. Yes, so many, many times. It’s taken me a while to stop accepting those tasks. A young woman I work with was recently asked by a male colleague to make copies for both of them to take to a meeting. She told him, “I didn’t work my butt off to get my Ph.D. so I can make copies for you. Ask the support staff to do that!” I wish I’d been able to say that early in my career.

    Asked about family life in interviews. Yes, though not at my current employer. The most uncomfortable was actually when I had kids in grad school and my (male) professors would 1) ask if I were breastfeeding, staring at my breasts; 2) tell me that I probably shouldn’t target a highly competitive job, and 3) say, “what?!? are you pregnant again?” (this was actually from a female professor).

    Unwanted sexual advances. Yes. Sigh. Fortunately not in my current job.

    Clients/peers talking to men around me and literally ignoring me. Yes! Ugh, this still happens with an important (older white male) client. He does it repeatedly, not just to me but to many women. It’s very obnoxious. Two of my male colleagues routinely spend time in meetings competing with each other to show how well-connected they are to the broader field, while leaving all the rest of us out (and wasting our time).

    Finally, for several years I was the only woman on a management team, was the most successful at bringing in business (by far) and was paid $10,000 less than all three men. I could probably have sued, but at the time was too afraid to lose my job.

    Some things are better, but some things are still, surprisingly, problematic. Thanks for posting on this issue.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Seriously? Staring at your breast?? How unprofessional can they be!! It’s disgusting and down right insulting too. Yes, sometimes I get the look of “why don’t you just be a little woman and scram” and I’ll put them right back at their position. Oh, I have men acting like boys in the playground where they’ll have stare down matches in the boardroom and I’ll go “boys, this isn’t the backyard.” If they act unprofessional, I’ll mother them to death ie nag until the cows come home or until pigs climb trees. Haha! That being said, I have overhead staff who said they prefer a male boss than a female one (me) and I’ll called them out of my team and challenge them to do a better job than me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kally!
    I did have a good read of this subject as my daughter is a software engineer and is working in the tech world in Bengaluru the tech capital of India.
    She is not married yet. Maybe she faces and comes across such situations that you have elaborated.
    Of Course she shares all her experiences, but it happens so sometimes that some of the delicate situations one may avoid telling it to their parents.
    I wonder sometimes, having given the education to a girl child and leaving them in such conditions scares me.
    You have put right all your credentials.
    Brave Girl Brave.
    Receive my Pats!!!
    Love to YOU,
    Shiva

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Shiva! I heard the situation is much worse in India than in the States. Some folks just don’t think business world have a place for women. Let her learn to grow and protect herself. Perhaps you could forward this article to her so that she’ll be aware of the dangers out there and know that she has the right to stand up for herself. You are a great parent to want the best for your child. Advocate no bullying in the workplace!

      Like

  4. And I thought my country can hold the crown of a “Male Dominant Society” for eternity. 🙂
    Anyway, joke aside. This is real and its happening. I can give example of my sister who worked in an insurance company for about two and a half years. She never told me or my mother about any bad experience during her tenure. In my office, females are in every dept and they work with their full potential and energy. I did heard some gossips about few individuals but they were just gossips.

    Equal balancing is the key, I say. Treat your female colleagues like you treat your own female family members

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said, but some folks like to think that the female have no place in the corporate world and tries to bully them into submissive them. I dread to think what goes on in their homes of those people!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an important post, and an issue that is very true. Sorry to hear that back then your didn’t get hired for that personal assistant job. But I think you were so much better off working for someone who respected your skills as opposed to your personal life.

    I have never had that kind of questions asked to me during an interview. Been very fortunate to be interviewed by panels that have at least one woman. However, I’ve had male colleagues (manager level and in my team) wink at me every now and then in previous jobs. Obviously, I could do without the attention. Also, this is sad but in Australia, women get paid much less than men in some roles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Singapore actually justify paying local men more because the guys went on compulsory two years military service hence ‘losing’ two years of work experience to women.
      I’m actually relive not to have that personal assistant job, I was young and easily impressionable, imagine who I might turn out to be if I work long enough for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s not just IT in Silicon Valley. I’d say all your points apply here in Italy, and women’s careers suffer as a result. I wouldn’t go as far as the personal safety worries. Compliments – including unwanted advances are a way of life for the so-called machos and you just learn to deal with them as elegantly as possible 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m okay with compliments as long as they are not overstepping my personal boundaries. Saying ” you look nice today” is great but going on how my sweater shaped my body nicely to show off my curves will make me uncomfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Two things kally: 1. It scares me to death 2. I need to prepare… why? I have four girls.my eldest is now in college taking up chemical engineering.. a course which would surely land her a job dominated by men… i am scared that the same thing will happen to her but at the same time i am hopin that we have raised her well that in the end she will be able to withstand issues like this in her future workplace..

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You have my sympathies. This issue never seems to get better. There was a item on the site that hosts my e-mail account on an activity by a group of women and the number of derogatory remarks from ignorant and (obviously) insecure males was ridiculous….I spent a little time sifting out the worse and giving them a taste of their own medicine, won’t stop it of course, but ‘you do what you can’
    All the best in your career

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know that your not from the USA, but I need you help on how to present a dynamic presentation to help the woman, your to show that Trump is not a corporate role model, and to show them how in this country people want to humanize him, with positive traits he does not have. Also, I have some differences with Hillary, but I see her as a subordinate as first woman with bill and as Secretary of State with Obama. I feel that she of bad judgement as a subordinate where she is never incomplete power.
    but she has had many powerful position from First Lady and to the senate along with Secretary of State. because she is woman she is give more responsibility and more judgement than a man.
    But young woman are turning against her and choosing the business man
    trump. If trump a business man can beat Hillary, it will be one the biggest insults against woman. They do not see what doors she helped open along with other woman. I need away to provide a presentation to encourage others to vote for her, and give her the position of president, not subordinate working for a male. So if you want to contribute, your talents, I would appreciate it. You are very talented and smart

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very generous with your compliments. I’m not really involved in politics as much as I do read whatever is available on the news with regards trump and Clinton and Obama, I’m afraid I don’t absorb as much.

      Like

  10. I do not speak English. I’m translating you. It’s not perfect, but gave it to miss the point. I see you dissected the research. Presenting facts about your professional experience. I loved it. An inquiring mind who does not accept data without that examine the background. Thanks for the lovely review, I was so grateful that I ended up making a declaration of love, :). Sorry about that. Bye. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Just to point out that at least the gender situation in Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland) is completely different. From my personal experience I must here also remark that a female direct superior also did once a sexual approach on me which I did not like at all. But this was quite an exceptional incident. And violence effected by females are normally still a tabu theme.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is an eye opening comment for me. I did not know that it is completely opposite in Scandinavian countries. No matter whether it’s female or male, harassment at a workplace is so unprofessional and wrong in many levels. Thank you for pointing that out.

      Like

      • Just wanted to indicate that the world is not black/white. The problem with female superiors is the same as with male superiors: not always the best are making career, but those with “special” capabilities which tend to be sometimes a real abyss. Our chancellor Angela Merkel for example is playing with men as with toys, so a lot of them have already received a big kick in the ass, but she is doing this in such an intelligent – also female – way that her position gets not jeopardized. So she really introduced also another style of politics with sometimes surprising and unexpected actions – and that is one of the reasons why the TIME magazine voted her as politician of the year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The situation in Scandianavian countries is more equality for both genders i. e. very much women in superior positions in politics or economy. Traditionally (going back 2,000 years and more) this was there always the case even here in Germany (female priests/druids were completely common). But, with the partly very violent and bloody introduction of Christian religion (starting approx. 1,500 years ago all over Europe) a total patriarchal system got introduced, so that for instance in the Roman Catholic church till today only males can get priests. Therefore, it is so important to always divide religion and politics (secular system) because what has happened in Central Europe around 450 years ago (war of religions lasting from 1618 until 1648) is now happening in the Middle East.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m still in college….will be appearing for job interviews soon but I’ve seen how in interviews girls are asked questions about family kids and if they can afford to work for longer hours…..
    Women are the ones who carry children…..its a service to humanity…..jobs shouldn’t be discriminated in basis of that 🙂

    But as you said…… This kind of sexist behavior is a lot less in technological field……in my college most girls get better marks than boys……so job are also fetched accordingly 🙂

    Loved going through your article 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh,I get this. I work in a place where most of the men don’t even know their comments are borderline sexual harrassment. It’s gotten to a point where you cant ‘t attempt anything other that a greeting because you know they will piss you off. And we are talking the science world here!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Damn! You have nailed it with the article. I have experienced such scenes at work. Not all the points are as you rightly pointed it out.

    Loved your article.. 🙂
    And it is my pleasure to subscribe to your wordpress 🙂
    You have many interesting articles coming up. Would like to be updated.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice article. Well, generally I believe people who take interviews are a bit dumb. No offense, but they are always looking for traits that can help them put you down, rather than looking at the positives. Come on man, we are humans and we are not perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

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