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International Women’s Day: Stereotypes About Women In The Workplace I Hope To Debunk

It’s time to set the record straight – we’re in the 21st century, and stereotypes about women in the workplace should not exist, period. As tough as it is already for us girlies to break the glass ceiling, outrightly sexist viewpoints like this serve only to hinder our progress in the workplace.

Here are some of the most common stereotypes about women in the workplace that I hope to debunk.

Female managers are emotionally unstable, bossy, or difficult to deal with

Ever come across one of these comments when someone asks you what gender your prospective boss is? Cue the “heng ah, you siam a difficult boss” when your answer is “male”, and the sympathetic looks when your answer is “female”. It’s time for people to recognise that poor people-managing skills have no correlation with gender whatsoever. Bad people managers can exhibit a combination of any undesirable personality traits, which can be present in both genders.

Ladies, here’s what you can do: Help to prove the doubters wrong by exuding traits that you find present in the best bosses you have worked with. For instance, I tried to emulate the best aspects of both male and female bosses I’ve had the privilege of working for when it was my turn to become a people manager.

Gents, here’s how you can help: Stop validating these comments whether it’s through silence or peer pressure. Challenge the person making such sweeping statements by asking for proof or logic that substantiates their claim. Do the right thing and stand up for your female counterparts instead of participating in “locker talk” behaviour.

A woman’s career trajectory is dictated by their marriage status or whether they have kids

This gives me the ick the most out of all stereotypes. Generalising that all women will let career take a backseat when they get married and have babies is unfair and, quite frankly, very misogynistic. The view that society gets to dictate what a woman should do with their careers when they progress on to marriage and parenthood is infuriating. Remove the double standards – ask men the same questions when they hit these milestones, too, or stop assuming, and take the effort to understand from your female or male colleagues how these milestones might change their career aspirations.

Furthermore, how many women have been silently passed over for a promotion or given the chance to take on a bigger responsibility – just because managers are playing AI’s and predicting that these women will not be in their jobs anymore or showing the same dedication due to an expected impending bundle of joy.

Ladies, here’s what you can do: Update your managers about any major changes to your personal life and assure them that your priorities or career goals are still the same. On the flip side, if you want to take on reduced workload or switch to another role, do give your manager a heads-up as well. The key is to communicate early.

Gents, here’s how you can help: There’s no need to jump to conclusions. You can broach the topic respectfully with your female co-workers.

Women typically hold more junior roles

Ngl, this legit happened to me – I was asked to give training sessions in several offices in the region. The male colleague picking me up at the airport immediately gave a confused look when I gestured that the name on the placard he had been holding belonged to… me. Later, he sheepishly admitted that he was expecting an older, male colleague to show up. How can dis b allowed?

Ladies, here’s what you can do: Never say “no” and turn down an opportunity to increase your visibility in the workplace. Don’t be intimidated if you are the only female in the room – own the room like your male counterparts would do.

Gents, here’s how you can help: Gone are the days when leadership positions are helmed only by men. Keep an open mind before you meet any colleagues and don’t jump to conclusions. Normalise seeing women in technical or even more labour-intensive professions.

Women are not good at negotiations or making difficult decisions

Ever seen your mum haggle at the fishmonger’s? Do you still think we’re bad negotiators? Just because we’re not outrightly vocal about our ability in these departments doesn’t mean we are not capable of doing so. Fortunately for me, my bosses trust in me to overcome difficult situations but not every company shows the same faith in women in navigating challenging circumstances.

Ladies, here’s what you can do: Put your hand up for a challenging task or a new project. Oftentimes, impostor syndrome will find its way to make you think you’re not enough – recognise that your feelings of inadequacy stem from that.

Gents, here’s how you can help: Just stop judging someone’s capability by their gender, please.

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