I heard a story about a school near where I live that had something called the Head of Household Stipend that would give a teacher extra money in their paycheck every month. A single mom with 3 kids who taught at this school questioned why she, as the head of her household, was not receiving the stipend.

The answer: because she was not a man!

To their credit…I guess…the district rapidly did away with the stipend altogether. I am sure there were some pissed off men but at least now it is equitable.

Keeping Women in Boxes

As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of another story I recently read in a book by Valerie Anderson called How women can succeed in the workplace (despite having “female brain”).

At the time of this story, Valerie is a successful lawyer at her firm. When she leaves at the end of her work day, she puts her billing sheet on the desk of her assistant who will then enter it into the system and they can then bill the clients.

One day, as she is sitting at her desk, her assistant comes in and asks her if she would like to be trained on how to use the billing system so she can enter her time.

Upon further investigation Valerie found out that all the other female lawyers were entering their own time but NONE of the men were. In fact, one male lawyer did not even know there was a billing entry system. 

Even as women we treat other women differently than we treat men.

Because out culture has taught us this. We are culturized.

What is culturized?

We first need to start with the word culture which is typically defined by sociologists as a set of values, norms and beliefs among a group.

To be culturized means to follow the values, norms and beliefs of your ancestors, the laws, your family, your friends and your own biases even when they no longer make sense or are oppressing members of the group.

It is when the norms, values and beliefs are oppressive that it is time to question what is happening and make changes.

And norms, values and beliefs are not easy to change.

You Can Help Free Yourself and Others from Oppression

Not everyone embraces change. Even when you know that things are not great, if you do not have an idea of how to make things better you won’t change. If someone feels alone in fighting for a change or believe they are not supported by those closest to them, much less society as a whole, to often they will give up or not fight at all.

Plus, wanting change and actually being the change is easier said than done. Especially when you are balancing your career with your family, your friends and other activities that matter to you.

Years of doing things one way, having male and female brains that operate differently, having different ways of solving problems and different overall objectives all impact how we are where we are. Laws that are outdated and systems and people that do not serve the higher good keep all of us down.

Laurie’s Understatement

This problem is BIG. How we change and move out of is a much bigger than my little blog. It is beyond just the workplace but that should not stop of us from doing something, anything to move the rudder one degree and get us to a different horizon in the future.

In order to not turn this into a college thesis, I am going to focus on 3 things you can do to help yourself and women everywhere be free from oppression in the workplace.

Try This

  1. Review your job description-If you and I have the same or similar job then we “should” be doing the same type of work, getting the same pay and receiving the same support. We should have access to the same trainings and people who can move us forward. Do a Job Description Analysis and see how things stack up. If you find something out of whack then say something to someone who you believe can help-HR or your manager or a women or man of influence in your organization.  It is time to speak up!
  1. Don’t do something just because you can or it is easier and faster. This is a trap many women fall in to – I like to think it is because we just happen to be so good at doing so many different things and accomplishing a lot-but that is beside the point. Put your first things first and delegate the rest. You should not be filling out timesheets if your male counterparts are not filling out timesheets. What is your overarching objective for your work and how do you get this done? If you are responsible for bringing in new business then every time you take your clients call when their problem really is best handled but customer support you not only take away from your objective, you could possible give a wrong answer leading to more time being spent cleaning up a mess you do not have time for and you are “oppressing” those who are paid and are best-suited for the customer support role. I am not saying you cop the “it ain’t my job attitude” please! I am saying, ask yourself, “What do I need to do right now to best achieve my personal objectives”.  If that means saying a quick hello to the client and then transferring them to customer service then do it! It is time to set boundaries!
  1. Change the rules- Review your company manual and see if there are things that have been there forever that do not support a woman like they do a man. Similar to a Job Description Analysis but not job-specific. For example what benefits could your company add that are more women-work friendly like flexible schedules or remote work? It is time to educate!

Got some ideas of your own? What is your company doing well? 

Post them in our Facebook community and help women everywhere!


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