I feel different than my co-workers.
I am a man.
I am the token man in an all-female workplace.
And partly due to this fact, I have changed.
Maybe these changes are permanent, maybe not.
WARNING: I hold the reader responsible for understanding that my observations of “an all-female workplace” refers specifically to Arment Dietrich/Spin Sucks during a specific moment in history.
Here are four lessons I have personally learned from working in an all-female workplace.
Criticism from Women is Easier than from Men
The following is a critique of one of my blogs from my boss, compliments of Slack.
So sometimes I get these guest post inquiries from bloggers who are obviously not native English speakers. They come across “spammy” and as if they were written by a robot. That’s how your blog reads. Lordy, put some personality in it. You have enough to share.
I respect my boss doesn’t beat around the bush.
(Note from Gini: I am NOT Pete’s boss. I mean, I’m the big, big boss, but I’m not whom he reports to…I just want to make that clear.)
Actually, I respect it most times.
This time the critique stung for a couple of minutes.
Okay, so she compared my blog to spam from a non-native speaker.
And what the heck does that last line about my personality mean?
After a couple of minutes, I burst out laughing.
I begrudgingly admit she was correct in her assessment.
The most interesting aspect of this criticism is how I would have reacted had it come from the keyboard of a male boss.
I would have likely crafted a rapid, self-injurious, and derisive reply.
What’s behind the difference in responses?
Are women not worthy of derision?
Do they need to be safeguarded?
Actually, I believe my problem lies with men.
Growing up in a house full of sarcastic, competitive brothers (of which I was the worst) seems to have put me at odds with male authority figures.
Women Can Instantly Shut Me Up
My voice soothes me.
I am never at a loss for words.
After I started working in an all-female workplace, I was consistently at a loss for words.
Sometimes I am afraid of saying the wrong thing.
The following is water-cooler talk from a co-worker, compliments of Slack.
HOW did you not know there was a Breast Cancer Awareness month? Did you just think the hordes of women who roam around wearing pink and throwing pink ribbons everywhere were just some weird and growing cult?
How does a man worker reply to this?
I am sorry?
You know, you are so right?
I incorporated my mother into my response.
She is a woman.
I replied, “My mother always told me to look straight ahead and mind my own business.”
She never gave me this advice, but I needed immediate extrication.
It worked pretty well.
I Can Never Complain About Sleep or Illness
I once saw a pregnant co-worker regurgitate into a Hardee’s carry-out bag.
She had just pulled into her work parking space and immediately relieved herself while she was still behind the wheel.
This is the same co-worker who hadn’t put in a full-night’s sleep in months.
I remember the day I witnessed her getting sick.
She never mentioned getting sick to anyone, as if doing that in a car is no big deal.
I remember the day I witnessed her getting sick.
I was going on only seven hours sleep and I had a headache.
Where do I go to complain about my drowsiness, my headache?
I can call my wife!
No, she is a woman.
I can complain to another man!
No, none here.
Okay, I’ll keep it buried.
I Receive Ample Appreciation
I receive thanks and gratitude for pretty much everything I do well (which excludes that non-native English speaking blog I wrote).
When I am feeling a bit devious, there is one co-worker who I can prompt to say nice things about me or thank me generously.
The following is a fictionalized account, compliments of Slack.
Female Worker: Thanks for all the work you put in on that last project.
Man Worker (Me): You liked it?
Female Worker: Loved it.
Man Worker (Me): Which part?
Female Worker: The third paragraph.
Man Worker (Me): Oh, that one took forever.
Female Worker: Your attention to detail shows.
Man Worker (Me): Thank you.
Female Worker: No, thank you.
Man Worker (Me): Well, have a great weekend.
Female Worker: Thanks, you too.
Man Worker (Me): Thank you. I’ll probably work on that next project we have, I want to make it perfect so you can just drop it in.
Female Worker: “Female worker has activated her snooze button. She will not receive her messages until 8:00 AM tomorrow.”
An All-Female Workplace Can Be an Enviable Workplace
I am fortunate to work at Arment Dietrich.
I believe it is much more the wisdom, leadership, work-ethic, and kindness of my co-workers at this all-female workplace and much less their gender that have allowed me to grow.
Someday maybe another man will join our ranks, and if he does, all will be fine if his position sits below mine on the organizational chart.
And now it’s time to take my lumps, for I have betrayed my gender to an extent only equaled by Dr. Phil.
image credit: Pexels