Ignoring Women’s Work Hurts Everyone
The damaging effects of being ignored by colleagues at work is well-established in these new scientific studies. However, there is something missing from this article.
I’ve had at least 3 specific occasions in the last month that are perfect examples of a phenomenon that is far more damaging than workplace harassment. That phenomenon, which has existed for not just decades, but millennia, is ignoring women’s work.
Whether at home or in the office, women’s work is largely ignored. See these posts from The Shriver Report on:
- Want to Help Women? Help Men.
- The Gender Wage Gap: What To Do If You Think You Aren’t Being Paid Fairly
- Women with Degrees: Your Real Work is Just Beginning
- Is Discrimination the Reason There Aren’t More Women in Leadership Roles?
- Read The Price of Motherhood to learn just how much women are forced to sacrifice, including well-being, financial security, and even basic needs, to raise up the next generation, through either careers in motherhood or as career professionals.
But back to my “latest” experiences, which to use the word “latest” means being ignored professionally, happens to me, and all women, on a regular basis.
The second and third occasions are far more insidious and frequent, and I would guess that you can share your own, very similar, story. They both happened in the course of normal, everyday conversation, much like the university experience except it wasn’t on a dedicated out of town trip.
One was standing on the sidewalk talking to a well-meaning gentleman who was complimenting me on how well I sang at the event we just attended. He turned to my husband and asked, “Where did you go to school?” That turned into an entire conversation that left me standing there in silence. I even tried to jokingly interject a comment about school rivalry to get my foot in the door of the conversation by saying, “I suppose that my husband being a Virginia Tech alumnus, and you as an NC State graduate, still makes me being a Tarheel (UNC Chapel Hill) graduate and current student, is acceptable too?”. Again, I was ignored.
The other incident happened standing in the driveway of a family member’s home, chatting with neighbors.
Not two minutes into the conversation, the neighbor turned to my husband and asked, “So, how’s work going?” I tried hard not to roll my eyes, because I knew what was coming.
Fortunately, my husband is keen to recognize this subtle form of discrimination now, and he echoed my sentiment when I chimed in (uninvited), “Yes, we are busy at work.” “With the company we run together, combined with our primary jobs and parenting our three kids who are aged 8 and under, we stay very busy.”
You should have seen the look on the neighbor’s face. It was as if I had told him we were flying to a secondary lunar-based office on weekends.
What was his response? You guessed it, he continued the conversation with my husband as if I had never said anything.
Of course, these examples are typical, and barely scratch the surface of how women are subtly, casually, and sometimes overtly ignored professionally in all social situations. What’s worse, is several studies support that being ignored by colleagues is worse than outright harassment. This article explains scientific case for the damaging effects of that silence all women experience at some point in their lives, very clearly.
I would love to hear your stories too. It is in sharing them, that we can transform cultural conversation and societal “norms” that expect women to work (mostly for free and definitely for less pay) and remain silent.
To learn more about changing the conversation, visit these websites featured in my previous posts: