What I’m about to say might be an unpopular opinion. Gender equality goes two ways. When we talk about the issue of sexism in the workplace the immediate assumption is that we’re talking about the treatment of women.
Sure, men don’t face as many structural barriers in the workplace as women. Agreed. In this piece, we’re talking about being a man in a female-dominated environment. And rightly so, there are issues (some small but significant) to be addressed if we are to build a truly inclusive working environment.
The gentle sexism of, “being a big, strong man and hand me down the printer paper” is probably intended as a compliment but would not be acceptable in reverse. We feel it’s important for men in female-dominated workplaces to call out these kinds of comments when they hear it. Remind women that they are strong too (though if it’s actually really heavy, help a girl out).
Be aware of nuances that can cause inefficiency. There is some microcosm of truth in the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus story. Men and women communicate differently. Men tend to be direct, whereas women are often subtler. Men in female-dominated environments need to use emotional intelligence to be geared more to empathy, relationships and consensus than speaking your mind. Women managers may find it useful to be more direct and straightforward with feedback and ideas.
Teams and companies need to come together to work through their gender bias. How is that seen in everyday interactions? How does that affect how we work together?
The last point here is another topic that we most often hear applied to women. The big problems for men in largely female workplaces include the pay (often bad for both them and the entire workforce). And the perceptions of people outside the organisation. Heavily female professions are often seen as less manly, and – over time - that can have an impact on how people feel about their work.
Women have rightly fought for decades for equality in the workplace. And the principles laid down are good and just and appropriate for forward thinking employers. That’s the right not be harassed. To equal pay for equal work. And at the core of this lies the idea that everyone is treated equally. Men. Women. Everyone.
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work
environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your
diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email
email@example.com for more information.
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