Paranoia or Workplace Harassment?

Am I paranoid? More than often I am interrupted and my points are not heard during meetings at work. For the longest time I was made to believe I was over-reacting. But then I started coming across articles on LinkedIn and other credible magazines that narrated similar incidents that other female professionals have faced. Some articles went ahead to describe these situations as workplace harassment while others termed these as continued gender-inequality. That’s all the testimony I needed to reaffirm I was not imagining this.

I am a middle manager in a male dominated firm and am frequently interrupted when I try to voice my point of view. I have noticed that when I give an idea, it is shot down for various ‘valid’ reasons. And lo and behold, when my male colleagues paraphrase and utter those same ideas a few moments later, it is applauded and appreciated.

Can you (all female readers pursuing a corporate career) say that I am paranoid? Over reacting? Can you truly say this hasn’t happened to you?

If the answer is no, then either you are not bothered, OR don’t want to admit it, OR you haven’t noticed.

UNLESS it really hasn’t happened to you, in which case, please allow me to share my CV with you 😉

This article by no means aims to establish that I am against males, nor am I averse to criticism. I simply aim to voice a problem that is common in workplaces around the world that many choose to ignore or not acknowledge.

Workplace problems don’t end here. Obviously, I can write an article for each issue faced! However, I would like to highlight one more problem, which involves the ‘speak’ or ‘remain silent’ dilemma. In normal one-on-one meetings with my line managers when he / she rapid fires a series of pinning questions (traits of a good manager of work) I am stuck between responding with an explanation OR staying mum to validate my subordination (a trait loved by today’s corporate world at large). When I try to explain my point, I am deemed as arguing, and when I stay quiet, I am a ‘yes (wo)man’ with no intelligent input. And it seems, many would choose the latter.

So, what could be the possible solution to these two highlighted problems?

I have the answer for one! I feel organizations like these require a change manager, someone who is neutral; who’s KPIs are tied to gender balance and employee satisfaction. Be it male or female, this manager of culture must be comfortable with the idea of women progression, keeps away and dissuades from tactics like intra-institutional politics and is capable of counseling and influencing across all levels of the organization.

The most effective enablement will occur when this change manager will moderate meetings and can manage tricky situations. This will lead to reduced individualism, through show of accommodation if not humility, and will enhance cohesion and teamwork beyond the invisible lines of ethnicity and gender bias.

For the second problem, like many would agree, that staying quiet works better then explaining point of views. I feel I don’t fall in that category, therefore my struggles would probably continue 🙂

What do you have to say?

I would love to hear your experiences, suggestions and ideas that you feel can help me or anyone else reading this article. So type away and fear no interruption 😉

2 thoughts on “Paranoia or Workplace Harassment?

  1. Awesome!!! Though you tried your best to be very polite while describing male dominated culture at work but those facts are soo true…(kept laughing all the time ;))

    fav. line ‘‘yes (wo)man’ with no intelligent input. And it seems, many would choose the latter.’ :p (completely agree with this as I have witnessed this in many situations).

    good work!! can’t wait for another one….

  2. There is certainly bias in certain organizations. Its like us females have to prove our point by staying late hours and coming to work even when unwell just to prove that we are serious about our work. Thats a wrong approach of trying to prove our seriousness. To add to that, we are also not asking anyone to go easy on us in terms of work because that creates a difference between genders too. Issue is that there is no middle ground. I faced this a couple of times not through my manager but in fact through some other people who work till late and think that by leaving at 6pm i am not working enough. Another time a male colleague pointed out once when i was unwell that i should still look at my best and not just come with a sad face to work. I understand that he was trying to instill positivity in my pressure oriented job but then again- if a man was unwell, they sympathize and say “yea poor guy, a lot of work pressure” and because I’m a female i am supposed to have an excellently positive attitude all the time? Made no sense to me. And for some time i started thinking that maybe im not capable enough and im not putting in as much effort as i used to before but then i shut out those negative thoughts and made myself understand that I know I am sincere with my work. The basic message here is that we need to focus on our work, choose our battles tactfully and let those we wish not worth to answer to believe what they must. At the very end, our dedication and contribution will reflect through our work.

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