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I'm the Only Woman at Work AMA

12 replies

MissingDietCoke · 18/07/2018 23:43

Literally the only one in my unit, there's 46 of us. Specific type of construction. They asked me to mentor a young woman in another business unit last week and when I met her today she asked me for my top tips for survival, respect and progression. Got me really thinking and self analysing!

OP posts:
Ginger1982 · 20/07/2018 16:37

Why do you think you're the only woman?

yaela123 · 20/07/2018 18:01

Is the atmosphere very different to other places you've worked with more women (assuming you have done so!)?

Also are you treated differently or do you feel like your colleagues change their behaviour when you are around?

tedx · 20/07/2018 18:07

What job do you do?

AssassinatedBeauty · 20/07/2018 18:15

Are your male colleagues overtly sexist, and have you experienced any covert/subtle/underhand sexism?

Want2bSupermum · 20/07/2018 18:21

Haha I'm reading this and scratching my head. I work for a company and in the subsidiary I'm the only woman. We have more gay men, Asian, Hispanic and Chinese than the female category. I'm the CFO and the talk doesn't get bad at all. I am the only working mother in the whole company and they made a big fuss of me the Friday before Mother's Day.

Want2bSupermum · 20/07/2018 18:23

It helps that I work in America, NYC to be specific. The majority of men I work with are married to women who work.

AssassinatedBeauty · 20/07/2018 18:23

How does that help, @Want2bSupermum?

AssassinatedBeauty · 20/07/2018 18:24

The being married to working women? Is there a big discrepancy between the US and the UK in terms of how many women work?

Want2bSupermum · 20/07/2018 18:39

So many more women work here after having children and many are in senior management positions compared to the UK. Most women in my position (3DC aged 7 and under with 2 having autism) don't work outside the home, let alone in a management/leadership position. If I lived in the UK the reality is I wouldn't work either because childcare is too expensive and school schedules are horrendous for working parent households.

The men I work with having wives or husbands (all 3 gay guys are married) who work helps me a lot. They get the challenge and stress that comes with a dual working household and DC.

AssassinatedBeauty · 20/07/2018 18:47

What makes US childcare cheaper (I'm assuming it's not govt subsidies), and what makes the school timetable more helpful?

Why is it that in the UK it's women who take the hit for this, rather than men?

Want2bSupermum · 20/07/2018 19:15

There are a couple of reasons for cheaper childcare. Primarily the reason is lower overheads in terms of rates not applied to these businesses. The ratios are slightly different too with a slightly higher ratio allowed 1:4 instead of 1:3 in the first 2.5 years.

School timetable is amazing because they don't have half term with a week off for Christmas and Easter. We get a longer summer break. Summer break is a struggle but at least it's all at one time. My DC are on their 4th week off while British schools are just finishing this week.

There are a whole lot more SAHDs here compared to the U.K.

MissingDietCoke · 21/07/2018 19:42

Why do you think you're the only woman?
Because I am 
Construction is very white male dominated. There's no ethnic minorities either at my place and no (openly) homosexual men either. When our gender report was produced it specified only 1.8% female in a staff of over 6000. I do quite a bit to encourage young people into the industry and especially like to work with young women. I'm a firm believer in the right person for the right role and I think the industry doesn't traditionally attract minorities because of a "macho" perception but it's really an exciting industry with great opportunities.

Is the atmosphere different?
Yes it is really, it's all pretty schoolboy humour. Sometimes I miss having a really close female work friend to identify with.

Are you treated differently or feel that your colleagues change their behaviour when you're around?
Some do, some don't. I'm definitely not seen as "one of the boys" and don't want to be. But then I'm not seen as a wilting wallflower either. Some will apologise if the language or subject matter is particularly crass, most won't, which is fine. Most will temper racist or homophobic language, or particularly objective or derogatory comments about women around me because they know I won't tolerate it and will call them out on it.

Are your colleagues sexist/have you experienced sexism?
Yes, they are in their language, but a lot of that is just for show. They know I'm good at my job, don't expect to be treated differently and I do believe I'm respected. I don't feel that I've been adversely affected really, which is good. I don't play golf, which is still where a lot of deals are done, and so am excluded from that aspect which is a big one, however that's my choice really, there's no reason why I couldn't take some lessons and join in. Sexism along the lines of "I'm interviewing admin today, let's see who's got the biggest tits and employ her" (actual comment) is very very common, though is for show really and wouldn't actually be acted on. Some men think it's funny, some don't like it, I always call it out but never take it further and report it, though I think I might if it was something I felt very serious or true.
That said, I've been hit on a number of times, had trousers dropped in front of me, had many comments about my appearance, sex life etc etc but I've never felt really threatened or unsafe.

Your experiences are really interesting to read, especially with regard to the differences between the UK and the US. I do think that a large part of the situation with me is related to the the fact that there is still an overriding perception in the industry that women should be at home. Most of the blokes wives are stay at home mums or mums with jobs that work around the kids (dinner ladies, parttime admin etc) and so when I'm dashing off to get the kids or working in the holidays or on nights I get a few comments about not being with the kids, even had one asking why I'd bothered to have kids if I didn't want to spend any time with them Hmm. Seeing as he had kids too I threw the question right back at him Grin

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