I recently joined an organization called HERdacity, an affiliate of the nonprofit Anywhere Woman Project. HERdacity.org is an online platform that was built to bring women from all walks of life together. To inspire. To mentor. To empower.
I am not an extreme feminist. A wise woman I know, Gail Holcombe, gave me feedback for this blog. She said “Feminism has been made extreme by folks who fear strong women”. You can be a feminist without making a scene. You “simply support women and girls in their growth”.
I feel there are places women and men don’t need to merge. After close to 20 years in the fire service, I’ve learned alot about men. We are not the same. And that should be embraced as a good thing. One thing I do believe is that women are in no way “inferior” to men.
I am what I consider an advocate for women. I feel like at this point in my life I have more than sufficient wisdom in certain areas pertaining to women. I still have a lot to learn myself but I want to help them find their courage and their voice. To change their mindset of inferiority.
I truly have incredible men in my life…my father, my husband, my brother. And I have been extremely fortunate in my career in regards to how I have been treated by the men I work with. But there is one specific incident that happened to me several months ago that triggered this need in me to aggressively begin helping women find their voice. I will blog about it later so stay tuned!
There was a post on HERdacity.org asking for advice that I felt compelled to respond to. A woman, who was the Director of Events and Marketing at a corporate office, was in a situation where her supervisor told her that she had to be at a function occurring over the weekend. Sounds like a reasonable request from a supervisor, doesn’t it, considering events are her job?
She had organized this function, had everything in place, and knew it needed no oversight. She had also worked several prior weekends in a row at larger functions and needed some time off. So when asked by her supervisor if she planned to be there, she stated she wasn’t because there was no need for her to be.
Her supervisor proceeded to tell her that, because it was going to be an event only men were attending and that men didn’t know how to make coffee, she would need to be there….TO MAKE THE COFFEE. He then told tell her if she couldn’t attend she needed to get one of the other office ‘girls’ to be there.
WTF????? I mean seriously….WTF?
So here was my ‘tactful’ advice to her. I hope she can find her voice.
“I give this advice as a woman who has been in the fire service for 20 years as a career firefighter. So I am a little rough around the edges now. Haha! So take it or leave it. The fact that you are seeking advice shows you are smart.
I think this will depend on the how well you and your supervisor work together and if he has a history of this that you know of. Don’t get me wrong…this walks all over me if he wasn’t making a joke. But, you definitely did the best thing to begin with which is not pop off at the mouth or be defiant.
You have several options. Ask him if he was kidding. Maybe he was and he thought you caught on to it. I deal with that daily. Haha.
Or don’t ask him if he was kidding, then don’t show up. You can tell him you “didn’t think he could possibly be serious considering how sexist the suggestion was”.
Ask another man in the office to go if there isn’t one going all ready.
Have a quick staff meeting on how to make coffee or just leave instructions.
Or, if he was serious and he is telling you to be there to make coffee, find your voice. It doesn’t have to be loud to make an impact. Here are some suggestions of thing that you could say when approach him again..because you need to:
-Tell him it makes you uncomfortable to be referenced as a barista….or however you want to phrase it.
-Tell him it is an insult to the men. What man doesn’t know how to make coffee????
-Flat out tell him that he is being sexist and using you in a demeaning way.
I say all these with some silliness, but all silliness aside, pick one, make it your own, and go for it.
One thing is for sure….you are better than just making the coffee.