Oh, what legends do not walk about the women’s office and not only the teams – after listening to them, you can be convinced that the accounting department works exclusively witches who wrap any paper to correct, or that “they” drive a cute boy – a student who came to “their” department intern. These same stories often feature a secretary, about whom they say you don’t even have to talk – she’s beautiful, which means she’s stupid as a cork.
Another folklore character – a young new head of one of the departments, which has not yet had time to figure out what’s going on, and she is already accused of all the troubles and say that women can not lead. Fortunately, these are all just stereotypes – or unfortunately for those who benefit from them. How these stereotypes affect offices, and how to get rid of them, and begin to view your colleagues and team differently than looking down on them, we will try to figure out in this article.
Where do the stereotypes about women’s teams and women in the office come from
It’s worth starting with a little historical background. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women in Russia were still the keepers of the hearth and had virtually no civil and legal rights. They were seen as short-sighted creatures, fit only to bear children and bring them up, but not for work on a par with men – physical, let alone intellectual. The main impetus to the struggle for women’s rights was the reform of 1861, which led to the rapid ruin of the nobility, and it was this that gave rise to the first suffragettes in Russia. It is thanks to them that we now have the right to work, to vote, and to be considered equal members of society-at least on paper.
So – as you can already understand from the above, women have actually worked for less than 150 years on a par with men. 150 years is an extremely short time for stereotypes to disappear. The “weaker” sex that women are labeled as still seems to many to be the same stereotypical “stupid and shallow,” fit only to raise children. And stereotypes about the female collective often stem from envy, often from a misconception of female behavior. When a woman is presented as shallow and stupid, it is not surprising that a collective consisting mainly of women appears to be the same way, hence the qualities that are attributed to such people – bentness, anger and vindictiveness.
The stereotype of female teams was also successfully cultivated in the Soviet Union – women, until the 80s, rarely appeared in positions above the head of the tailoring shop, and thus the impression was created that they are not good enough for positions above these. And a woman on the board of a company 35 years ago seemed wild – listen to this, only 35 years old.
How do stereotypes affect women in the office
Everyone knows that if a woman comes to interview for a technical, “native male” position, and if the interview is conducted by a technical director or recruiter who understands the technical side of the issue, the attractive appearance of applicants likely to lower its attractiveness as an employee in the eyes of her interviewer. Similarly, female managers are often taken lightly or with hostility by many male subordinates. All this comes from the distant past, which dictates the current behavior of many people, which is certainly very sad.
The same stereotypes lead to the fact that women leaders are often seen as their mothers. This is due to violations of the notions of how a leader should behave. They often talk to their subordinates, often more carefully and constantly monitor their work, trying to keep up with all. Because of this, many people begin to perceive them in a sense as mothers, and they see in the control of activity mistrust in the ability of the employee to cope with their tasks. Often female employees are not promoted because of stereotypes. The idea that women are not ambitious and generally need only children often leads to the fact that a talented woman will remain in her current position, while her less intelligent and knowledgeable colleague – male will get a higher position.
Often, when hiring, employers may refuse to hire a woman if her skill level is on par with or even higher than that of her competitors, and her references are still as impeccable. This is due to a very simple reason – no employer wants to pay maternity pay to an employee. It’s an unnecessary expense, and an unnecessary retention of space, because a good professional won’t want to take a position for just a year or even less. This, too, is supported by another stereotype about women – women only look for a job so they can go on maternity leave. This stereotype is extremely stupid and ridiculous, but that is what it is and we have to put up with it.
And the last side of the stereotype’s impact on women in the office – no one perceives the women’s team as something normal. No, of course, you will not see this in Western companies, but in small Russian companies – easily. Chicken coop, snakes’ nest – whatever they call the accounting or marketing department, where, according to statistics, the largest number of female staff are most likely to gather. If a woman will somehow, even in the mildest form, express dissatisfaction with what her colleague did – even in a friendly conversation, it is unlikely she would have heard much good about herself behind her back, while the man would not have received so much negativity in his direction.
How to combat these stereotypes
Be bolder. If you know that you have enough knowledge and skills for a management position, and it suddenly turns out to be vacant – apply. Don’t be afraid that you won’t be able to handle it, or that you’ll find yourself all alone in the unfamiliar “swamp” of office business. The current director or supervisor will always help you figure things out as he or she hands over the cases. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion – let people get used to the fact that women are not silent. Of course, do not do it in a harsh form, just do not be silent – and you will be noticed. And, most likely, not negatively.
Don’t be afraid of responsibility and don’t be afraid of important things. Be, after all, yourself, communicate outside your office with other colleagues, not just with your department. Show that women work just as well, and sometimes even better than men. By the way, as a side note, according to Fortune magazine statistics, companies with women dominating management are more likely to perform better than their direct competitors with men at the helm. Women are on the same level as men initially, but it is your job to show how you can be better.