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to think that women like this give the rest of us a bad name in the workplace

(172 Posts)
HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Mon 17-Feb-14 11:26:34

I'm currently expecting my first child in the early summer. One of my team at work is expecting hers about a week before mine. And I'm really about to really lose my temper with her. She's resident in a different country where she gets two months of fully paid antenatal leave before starting her maternity leave so she's going off in about a month.

However, what's making me really cross is that she's obviously mentally checked out already. We work in a really high-pressure environment (city job) and she's one of the more senior members in my team of 17. She just sent me back her appraisal form (late) in preparation for her review later on this week, along with an email that says she doesn't see why she's been asked to do this review as she's leaving in a month. She's also started arriving late to meetings, delaying delivery of tasks, taking extra long lunch hours etc.

The review covers the whole of the previous year and although yes, she is starting her maternity leave soon, we're still paying her salary and will be obliged to do so for her antenatal lead and for a full year after her baby is born. So it really makes me cross that with all of this fully paid time off ahead of her, she's already trying to get out of doing her normal day-to-day job whilst she's still in the office. Why is it a one-way street with her doing all the taking?

This woman and her behaviour are why other women in our largely male industry office (myself included) are completely passed over for promotion once they're pregnant / have children because our male colleagues assume we'll all take this kind of approach. When I mentioned to our global head that this kind of attitude really makes me cross, he actually shrugged and said "That's just what happens. Women get pregnant and lose all interest in their job". She's ruining it for the rest of us. AIBU to want to mark her down in her review for this awful attitude? (Obviously I won't…but dear God I'm tempted!)

gelati3 Mon 17-Feb-14 11:30:26

Maybe she is having a difficult pregnancy- be careful before you pass judgement.

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Mon 17-Feb-14 11:33:37

gelati3 How does having a difficult pregnancy excuse her from having an annual review? Or from turning up late all the time? Surely if this is the case then the professional thing to do would be to approach me and HR to explain why she's not doing her job?

We're not in nursery school. She's happy to take the money and has agreed to various responsibilities in exchange. Surely the onus is on her here?

ISeeYouShiverWithAntici Mon 17-Feb-14 11:37:20

Why does one woman give all women a bad name?

Does bad behaviour from one man in the workplace mean that all men in the workplace are seen the same way? No. Because a man is a man, not all men and nobody would pass over all men for promotion because of the actions of one man, would they? When has that ever ever happened?

So challenge that, because that is the problem. Not one woman behaving in a particular way.

tomverlaine Mon 17-Feb-14 11:40:47

It depends if she is using pregnancy as ane xcuse. I had a colleague who made some horrendous mistakes (breaching client confidentiality) and dismissed it as "pregnancy brain" no- just incompetence

tethersend Mon 17-Feb-14 11:40:52

"This woman and her behaviour are why other women in our largely male industry office (myself included) are completely passed over for promotion once they're pregnant / have children because our male colleagues assume we'll all take this kind of approach"

No, institutional sexism on a very grand scale is the reason women are not promoted. Don't buy into the culture of blaming other women for these sexist practices.

What your colleague is doing is annoying, but she is not responsible for the fact that women are not promoted in your organisation. That is a problem which goes far, far deeper than that. You are angry with the wrong person.

PeriodFeatures Mon 17-Feb-14 11:42:37


This woman is entitled to her maternity leave. The tone of your post suggests that you would prefer it to be performance related. That is unreasonable.

However,she is being unreasonable if she is not doing the job without good reason. Why not ask her how she is coping with her pregnancy and work load? She might be having a difficult time, feeling exhausted etc. It is also a kind a gentle way of pointing out that her performance is not up to its usual standard. Not wanting to attend a review is a little bit inappropriate as she is still employed and will be returning. Be kind. You don't sound approachable at all so it may be that she has health condition or quite rightly already feels discriminated against due to her pregnancy and anyone who feels unsupported or discriminated against is likely to react to that. In her case change her performance.

I can totally understand your frustration. You want the women in your workforce to perform and prove that they can level in a male dominated environment. You cannot hold this women up as a token example of why the women in your industry are not progressing! It is the industry!

I hope you can be a decent human being and all have a really good whip round and buy her a lovely Mat leave gift.

You need to be careful as your attitude is discriminatory and could lead to illegal practice. Perhaps have a look at the equalities act 2010 before you do anything

Withmyfeetinthesink Mon 17-Feb-14 11:42:49

With ISeeYouShiver here - if that one woman is giving ALL women a bad name, but you're fabulous, surely you are giving ALL women a good name?

So, it's fine - everything's evened out and you can keep doing brilliantly, then when she buggers off, your one-woman show will up the good-name status and all will be perfect.

She must be terribly powerful to be able to ruin it for 'the rest of us' . . .

Bingbongbinglybunglyboo Mon 17-Feb-14 11:45:58

Tethersend, i agree, but you saved me typing it out.

Without meaning to be mean or rude, Women like the op are why institutionalised sexism is blamed on women not the institution.

Fairenuff Mon 17-Feb-14 11:50:00

You are perpetuating the problem OP instead of speaking out against this kind of prejudice. No, of course, she is not giving 'all women' a bad name, don't be so silly.

If that were the case then those doing a great job would be giving 'all women' a good name wouldn't they. Point this out to your boss next time the subject comes up.

ComposHat Mon 17-Feb-14 11:50:40

No she is making herself look like a workshy loafer, not sn entire gender. You beef should be with your employer who seem like a buch of sexist pricks.

Throughout my 20s I drifted through jobs, doing the bare minimum and quite often less than that. No one suggested I was letting my gender down or was making it harder for other males. I was seen for what I was a scarcely competent piss taker.

Durhamgal Mon 17-Feb-14 11:52:27

You have an ideal opportunity at her review to raise all of these issues and find out why they are occurring.

Reviews are a requirement for all staff, as is submitting paperwork on time, attending meetings on time and doing the day job. YANBU (in the absence of any extenuating circumstances) to expect her to do the job for which she is paid.

If she is struggling, as one poster suggested, then you would hope that, in a senior position, she would think to discuss this with you as her manager / explain etc. If not then you are in fact doing your own job properly by raising the issues with her.

Being pregnant does not equal lazy. What will you do if she continues with this attitude when she returns?

MrsDeVere Mon 17-Feb-14 11:57:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thetallesttower Mon 17-Feb-14 12:02:08

Why on earth would you point this up to a senior manager who then agreed all women were like this? I hope you pointed out you weren't, nor were many other women in your organization.

One woman isn't going to mess up the entrenched sexism in your workplace, just as you aren't going to overturn it. It seems really counter-productive to go around highlighting this one woman though when you know how sexist the organization is- why are you playing along with the dominant sexist discourse and not challenging it?

In your review, do discuss if there are performance issues though, no need not to because it may not be all about the baby, who knows?

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Mon 17-Feb-14 12:08:11

Gosh. Enormously surprised at the responses here. I consider myself to be a feminist MrsDeVere, which is why I'm cross that she's just stopped working hard before going off. My whole point is that she's contributing to the general feeling that women just work until they have a family. She's still taking a salary and so should do her job.

Durhamgal I'm with you. She's in a senior position (with a small team of her own that she's now setting a really bad example for) and so should be capable of addressing any issues with her manager. I fully intend to bring it up in her review.

So many excuses here made for someone simply not pulling their weight. Whilst yes, I'm not happy about institutianalised sexism, that's precisely why I'm disappointed that she's just stopped trying. Surely we all have to do our part to reverse the stupid views held by an industry in general? Attitudes like hers don't help.

PeriodFeatures Odd comment about me being a "decent human being" and organising a whip-round. HR do that.

However, concerned by the last part of your post. Of course I'm not discriminating. Believe me, I know those discrimination laws like the back of my hand. You can't claim "discrimination" because I'm pointing out that she's trying to get out of fulfilling her contractual agreement. Sigh. So frustrated.

DebbieOfMaddox Mon 17-Feb-14 12:08:12

"This woman and her behaviour are why other women in our largely male industry office (myself included) are completely passed over for promotion once they're pregnant / have children because our male colleagues assume we'll all take this kind of approach."

Er, no. If you have a male colleague who takes the piss, do you assume that all men will take the same approach? No? Other women in your largely male industry office are passed over because (based on what you say) your male colleagues assume that "women" can be regarded as some amorphous group entity and all behave exactly the same. Which is called sexism. So women are passed over because the men with power in your office are thinking and behaving in a sexist way -- but interesting that you choose instead to blame the one woman (who may indeed be taking the piss as an individual) for their actions.

Thymeout Mon 17-Feb-14 12:08:19

Of course it's possible for one man to give other men a bad name, if he is part of an identifiable group. Consider the discrimination against, say, gay men in the police or armed services. They have to perform at a higher level than straight men in order to progress.

Women also have to work harder, if they are of child-bearing age and likely to become pregnant or working mothers. It's within living memory that women were considered unsuitable for high office, just because they were women. Look as some of the comments from her own party about Mrs Thatcher.

Barring a difficult pregnancy, which doesn't seem to be the case, YANBU to find the behaviour of your colleague annoying. She is letting the side down and making it more difficult for other pregnant women to be treated fairly.

I also find it irritating the number of times posters on this site blame their bad behaviour on 'feeling hormonal'. Hormones have been around since the beginning of time. Get over it. Every time it's used as a get out card, it's fuel to the fire of those who want to put women down.

AngelaDaviesHair Mon 17-Feb-14 12:12:04

What one woman does should not reflect on all women, whether positively or negatively. The fact that it does is the nub of the problem here, not one woman failing to pull her weight.

When you got a 'That's what women do' response from your senior colleague, you should have challenged it.

If she were black and your colleague had said 'Bloody blacks, they're all like that' would you have thought that was ok too?

MrsDeVere Mon 17-Feb-14 12:13:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FuckingWankwings Mon 17-Feb-14 12:16:10

I'm with the OP and I think YANBU. As Thyme says above, it's being part of an identifiable group that gives that group a bad name. A woman who was behaving like this but not pregnant would just be acting unprofessionally. A man behaving like this with no other factors involved would just be acting unprofessionally. But this woman is acting unprofessionally and she is part of a group that people can then ascribe the behaviour too.

Her behaviour sounds highly unprofessional and unimpressive, IMO. If she's having a difficult pregnancy she should approach a manager or HR for support and ideas on how to manage it in conjunction with work. If she has any other, non-pregnancy-related, issues, she should do the same. If she has no issues then she needs to do her job to the best of her ability until she goes off on leave.

FuckingWankwings Mon 17-Feb-14 12:16:55

* ascribe the behaviour to.

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Mon 17-Feb-14 12:17:11

Thymeout Yes. What you said. That's exactly the problem. I resent her behaviour enormously not just because of the extra work it causes me, but also because of the way it adds fuel to the sexist blaze.

Angela and others…I did challenge his stupid comment. And he then said that she clearly fell into the category he'd identified, which was correct.

My frustration here is directly pointed at this particular and very lazy woman and how she's not helping the situation for anybody. Yes, it's irritating that my industry tends to be sexist but as I see it, I have two options. Shrug, and say that's just how it is, or hold myself up to a higher standard and lead by example. So when another woman just drops out of the race in such an arsey fashion, it irritates me both as a feminist and as her manager. Laziness is never acceptable.

ISeeYouShiverWithAntici Mon 17-Feb-14 12:18:41

Well, that is not about the individual either, but about discrimination against a particular group based normally on ignorance and prejudice.

The old 'have to work twice as hard to be seen as half as good' pile of shit.

It's still not the fault of any individual within that group that that group is discriminated against, nor is it their duty to work themselves into an early grave to prove something to those who discriminate.

If you are a member of X group, you have to PROVE yourself worthy because you are a member of that group. Not prove yourself as an individual, which is reasonable, but purely because you are a member of a particular group. Why? Why not stop people making judgements about entire groups of people? Why not change thinking so that they no longer see someone as less worthy or less capable because they are part of a particular group?

dreamingbohemian Mon 17-Feb-14 12:19:35


I'm also in a very male-dominated field. When I got pregnant during my phd, everyone assumed I wouldn't finish, because the few women in this situation previously hadn't done so.

I suppose I could have gotten upset with those women for making us all look bad. Instead, I pointed out to everyone that loads of men don't finish either.

I actually became the first woman in my department to have a baby and still finish the phd. So hopefully some of those people will shut up about that now.

I think your frustration is somewhat understandable but you are very unreasonable in focusing on this one particular woman. I'm surprised you consider yourself a feminist actually, this is like Feminism 101.

PostHocErgoPropterHoc Mon 17-Feb-14 12:24:37

I did challenge his stupid comment. And he then said that she clearly fell into the category he'd identified, which was correct. Then you should have pointed out it was a category of women, a subset, not all of them. Your anger is misplaced here. Yes, she is behaving poorly, but be angry with her about that, don't put the responsibility for others' sexist attitudes on her.

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