Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's Still A Man's World!

We like to call ourselves progressive, we like to extol values of gender equality and empowerment. We like to believe that there is no glass ceiling.
But episodes like the sacking of Debrahlee Lorenzana from Citigroup for being too hot, prove that all these concepts are indeed alien in the workplace.
Frankly, Debrahlee looked pretty ordinary to me from the her photos that appeared in the press, but there may be men who thought otherwise.
But honestly, aren't men supposed to rest their raging hormones when they are at work? In any case, if they don't, it's their problem, and not that of women like Debrahlee.
This episode got me to think a lot. And it forced me to recall my conversations with career women, both in the family and friends.
I have felt this in the past. Female friends have told me this.
It's still a man's world out there.
If a woman is exceptionally successful at work, colleagues would speculate that she sleeps around with the boss. If she's aggressive, the males around her get threatened and she's asked to take it easy, whereas, similar aggression by her male colleagues would be appreciated and applauded with backslaps.

If she gets involved in discussions on the nuts and bolts of business, menfolk can't believe their ears.. She's not taken seriously.
If she becomes pally with the folks around, it's taken for granted that she's "easy". If she avoids inappropriate and off-colour conversation, she's accused of having an attitude.
These attitudes show up in all professions, politics included and across geographies. The recent Nikki Haley case in the United States shows that sexist attitudes may still be all pervasive. Perhaps, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman may be a tad better off, given their experience in battling sexism in the boardroom over the years.
For God sake, women are not playthings. Women are not "women" in the workplace, they are just employees like her other male colleagues around - love to look and dress smart, have ambitions and aspirations and crave for success.
But unfortunately, it's still a man's world!
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