Step Up: All In (For Self-Advocacy)

By Rebekah Peterson

Ladies, do you ever have a feeling that your male co-workers are being given more challenging assignments than you?

You know, that despite your ambition, your male co-workers are being given challenging assignments like managing a project, organizing a company event, or assuming responsibility of a major client?

Well, it’s not just a feeling and scholarly research actually backs this up.

i-dont-understand-it-leslie-knope-parks-and-recreation

In 2009 researchers Irene De Pater, Annelies Van Vianen, and Myriam Bechtoldt randomly selected 136 employees working at middle job levels at a pharmaceutical company to participate in a study about their job experiences.

First, the employees were asked demographic questions, such as number of years in their current job and the level of their highest education. Next, they were asked to self-rank their ambition level and self-evaluation. Lastly, they were given ten descriptions of challenging job assignments and were asked to rank each on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much) the extent to which they deal with each of the assignment descriptions in their current job.

The results of the employees questionnaire were analyzed only after being controlled for their ambition and self-evaluation and the other demographic variables.

The results?

Women in middle job levels have fewer challenging job assignments than their male co-workers.

Yup—your ambition and desire to develop new skills are overshadowed by your gender.

Not only are assignments being given based on gender unfair, but they can also negatively impact your career.

The ability to tackle challenging job assignments helps lead to promotional opportunities, and if women aren’t being given the chance to prove themselves, it constrains them in reaching new heights in their careers and positions of power.

But just because you may not be assigned a challenging task at work shouldn’t stop you from getting one yourself. Here are some tips for asking your boss for more challenging tasks:

Step 1: Decide what you want out of asking for more tasks

  • More work in your position?
  • Or, a promotion?

Step 2: Come up with a solution

  • If you want more responsibilities in your position, identify tasks you are interested in.
  • If you’re ready for a promotion, identify opportunities within your company you think would be a good fit.

Step 3: Write down your current responsibilities

  • Your boss may not know exactly what you do and you should showcase your ability to complete all your current tasks and then some.

Step 4: Schedule the conversation with your boss

  • Schedule at least 30 minutes with your boss to discuss your current role and your proposal.
  • If you don’t want to schedule a time, bring it up at your annual review.

Step 5: Be honest

  • Be open with your boss. They want to help you and might have different ideas for more assignments.

giphy

So, here’s my challenging assignment to you: don’t be afraid to self-advocate, and don’t be timid about asking for what you want.

I always feeeel like, somebody’s…

By Joey Konrad

Have you ever encountered a male co-worker or a customer that gives you weird vibes—you know, when it feels like he’s looking at you behind your back, rating your body and how “hot” you look? Do you get these feelings even though you can’t identify who specifically is watching you?

giphy10

If you identify with that situation, you certainly aren’t alone. Researcher Beth Quinn conducted 43 interviews with working men and women about their experiences in the workplace with “girl watching”: those unwanted or unnoticed sexual gazes towards women in the workplace by men.

Quinn found that most of the people interviewed were aware of girl watching in the workplace, however the men interviewed often understood girl watching as a harmless joke or simple appreciation of women’s appearances, while the women felt it was objectifying and didn’t like the attention.

Quinn further questioned the men’s acceptance of girl watching and found that many responses fell along the lines of “that’s just what men do” and the women feeling objectified was not the reason why men engaged in girl watching. In fact, when forced to imagine themselves in a position of being sexually watched, all the men interviewed understood the harm or discomfort of girl watchingyet were unable to generate that empathy when listening to women’s experiences.

In 1980, the U.S. passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which outlined sexual harassment as illegal and required employers to provide preventative measures to address sexual harassment, like awareness seminars.  However, sexual harassment in the workplace is still rampant, as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that around 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and that statistic does not account for the women that do not report or share their experiences.

Quinn’s findings reveal some flaws in the way we approach teaching and preventing sexual harassment at work. Who knew those mandatory seminars that showed weird videos from the 90’s were ineffective?

giphy11

The larger problem here isn’t that men need help understanding what sexual harassment is, rather what men understand to be masculine includes proving their (hetero)sexuality at work through girl watching or other forms of sexual harassment. Men must confirm how manly they are to others at work by asserting their enjoyment of sex and appearance, and also show no emotions of compassion or concern towards women because they can be labeled weak and their masculinity is threatened.

Sexual harassment training and information sessions need to address stereotypes of what it means to be a man and a woman if they want serious gains at eliminating sexual harassment at work. Men specifically can provide positive reinforcement for other men who speak out against sexual harassment and redefine masculinity, as well as speak out against men who don’t.

So whether it’s you or your buddy….dude, stop looking at your coworker like that, alright?

Princess Bride and (less than) the royal treatment

By InformHer Staff Writer

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

 

But Princess Bride, is marriage really bringing all of us together?

When it comes to salary and income earnings, marriage helps men a lot more than it helps women, according to Claudia Geist’s 2006 article titled “Payoff or Penalty? A Comparison of the Marriage Wage Differential for Men and Women across 15 Nations.”

giphy9

Her examination of the hourly wages of married and unmarried men and women, between the ages 25 and 55, revealed something interesting, and a little upsetting. Men in the 15 countries studied (including the United States) earn noticeably more when they are married than when unmarried. On the other hand, women earn about the same as they would married or unmarried in a majority of the countries examined. Geist explains that this may be because of the types of jobs married women work, and the consistency of the cross-cultural belief that men are breadwinners. Further research is needed to confirm if this data is evidence of either of those claims.

“Chin-up, Buttercup,” because this study does not mean that women will suddenly be payed less at their job when they get married. Instead, the marriage wage gap points to a few likely problems, for example the harmful social pressure on men to be the breadwinner in a partnership.  Finally, this also illustrates how women’s work is undervalued and confirms that women’s potential for wage-earning is less than men’s.

Wait, women have a lower earning potential? 

giphy7

If this sounds sexist to you, it’s because it is. Women’s work is generally undervalued in comparison to men’s due to the fact that women make up the majority of the care-work workforce (think nurses, day care workers, maids, stay at home moms). Care workers do not receive comparable (or even adequate) pay. The solution is not to avoid being a careworker yourself, but to value care work and care workers, and to shape the dialogue that surrounds care work in a more positive way. Other factors that could explain why women earn less may be their negotiation ability and the amount of work they must take on at home.

The pay gap for married women is widespread, with numerous problematic causes, and numerous solutions. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to” forget about discovering a one-size fits all solution to this problem. Instead, we need to wholistically re-evaluate the roles of women in our workforce and the value we place on care work in our culture if we want to ever close the marriage pay gap.

A not-so-bundle-of-joy

By Bronwyn Neal

Imagine this:

You are at the height of your career, you’ve found the love of your life, had your dream wedding, and not too long ago, you brought a little life into the world. You’re at the top of your game and nothing can bring you down. Or so you think. What if I told you that your new little bundle of joy now influences the way your co-workers, bosses and future employers perceive you as a professional? Don’t worry boys, you’re safe. Ladies on the other hand, pay close attention…

Over the past few decades, women have been making their way out of the house and into the workplace, morphing the image of “woman” from housewife to professional. Although this all sounds fine and dandy, women have not made this transition smoothly and are still trying to claim their rightful place in society.

In 2004, researchers Amy Cuddy, Susan Fiske, and Peter Glick conducted a study to find out how professional women are perceived after becoming mothers.

Here’s how: 122 undergraduates of diverse gender read profiles of three consultants who worked at a corporate company and were asked to respond with their first impressions. The profile described either a man or woman, and provided a brief background of their education, job requirements, hobbies, and whether or not they were a parent.

After each description, participants were asked to rate the consultant on 20 traits using a scale of 1 to 7. Of the 20 traits, a handful measured competence and several measured “warmth”-related traits.The rest were “filler” traits, meaning that they did not necessarily factor into what the researchers were trying to study.  

giphy6

Although this approach sounds simple, the results they found were anything but.

When reviewing the results, they found that the working mom was perceived significantly more warm, but marginally less competent than working women without children. Men on the other hand, did not differ on competence regardless of if they were a father or a working man without a child. Furthermore, working moms were preferred less than women without children, whereas working fathers were preferred less than a man without children.

There is a lot more than meets the surface with a study like this one.

Women being perceived as warmer after having a child is not absurd (I guess I’ll give them that). What is absurd, is the fact that women are perceived as less competent due to having a child. Correct me if i’m wrong, but I don’t think that bringing a life into the world affects how well a woman can complete a task or do her job for that matter.

C_Ujqx8VoAAzj2u.jpg

This same accusation becomes even more ridiculous when men receive brownie points for doing what they are expected of them as a father, whereas women have to jump through hoops and bend over backwards in order to get a simple “good job” for going above and beyond what is expected of them. This difference in perception can be explained by  old original gender roles of men and women: breadwinners vs. housewives.

A woman and man have the same job, they both fall in love and have a family. The man is now seen as a great father and the woman, as warmer, motherly. And as for their work ethic? Nothing changed. Why? Because babies don’t affect competency. Point being: we, as a society, shouldn’t let them.