Just when it seems like women are being accepted in the workplace, it appears that there might never be a right time for women to be accepted in the workplace. Women seem to be relegated to working non-managerial jobs or not being hired based on their female anatomy, with many companies recruiting women in junior roles and promoting men in senior roles.
What’s frustrating is that most of the best and smartest people I have worked with are women. They also remain the most hardworking section of the work environment- regardless of if it is formal, or informal. Yet they are not hired, or denied managerial roles because of the fact that they are female.
The hiring board utters sentences like:
“What happens when she’s on her period?” “What happens when she’s pregnant?” “What happens when she has kids?”
It gets worse with ideas like “Women cannot manage their emotions,” “I cannot take orders from a woman” “Men will not listen to a woman,” and one I hear every day at my digital marketing job, “Are you sure you can do this, you need a man to help you”.
I once attended a work event where my male supervisor kept on insisting I needed a man to successfully execute the tasks. I ignored it, heavily irritated. The day before, at a visit to view the location and what it would look like, He whined throughout about how the whole thing was basically a man’s job. But when he saw the organizer yelling at grown men, he was nowhere to be seen anymore, making excuses to be anywhere but near her, I introduced myself to the organisers and was able to get the best treatment. A man’s job yeah? Right!
The day of the event, we needed to set up and the whole way there it was filled with remarks like you need a man, can you handle this? I don’t think you’re up for this. But guess who handled everything and was able to set up banners and other branding materials on my own- since he was nowhere to be seen; once again? Me!
Came around when everything was over exclaiming to my manager that he had done a good job and that indeed a man’s hand was needed in executing the project.
Of course, if you know me you would know I stepped up and appropriately informed my manager I handled it myself; including the set-up and speaking to the main organisers. Then I took the company car to get myself some Burger King, by the way, he kept on calling requesting where I was the entire time, but he’s got it right he should be able to handle it himself. My work there was gone.
As infuriating as this discussion might sound, it gets worse when you realise that women are not only undermined in the workplace by men, but also by women who have a lot of learning and unlearning to do. Females on the hiring board do not want to hire ladies too because of the same reasons I have stated above, pregnancy, periods, and the special one – “When she’s having relationships issues it’ll affect her work” They refuse to hire ladies too because they hold biases to hiring lady staffs consciously or unconsciously.
Many companies keep recruiting women in junior roles and promoting men in senior roles. Apparently, there is a belief that a female cannot manage the main business so ladies are relegated to support departments, secretaries, clerks, personal assistants, cashiers, nothing too serious or major- make it make sense, please.
Shout out to companies who hire female staff and create a women-friendly workplace, but hope the fair treatment of your female staff goes beyond the mother’s day and international women’s day campaigns;
What’s the maternity leave policy? What’s the policy for new and breastfeeding mothers? Does she have someone take over her work during and after childbirth, as well as an assistant to help when she comes back? How lenient are you on days she would have to miss work or leave work early for her child(ren)? Do you have a daycare? Does the health plan cover childbirth and extend to the children when she has them? How comfortable are you with her taking time off during her period when she needs to?
These and a lot more are what needs to be considered in creating a women-friendly environment.
I worked at a company where it was heavily insisted that they wanted a male staff for a vacant position. They indeed got a male staff who ended up being one of the laziest persons I’ve worked with, guess who was picking up his slack, the ladies, not me, I barely knew what his job responsibilities were since I doubted that he also knew what his responsibilities were- apart from eating, gisting and using the company’s resources to “Facebook” all day.
This conversation is not complete without mentioning the gender pay gap between men and women which is a major concern. There is no rational reason for this rather than the fact that “you don’t need it, your husband is working” or “Women don’t have plenty needs, men will provide for them, who is providing for the men?”
Well the only man providing for me is Jesus Christ the Lord, my helper and Saviour.
According to the constitution, it is the duty of the state to ensure there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other grounds. However, this is not the case and this is rarely implemented because what many women experience in Nigeria opposes this law. Even if many men claim the gender pay gap doesn’t exist.
Senior and managerial Jobs are more dominated by men than women. When women are not employed in senior positions just like men are then they are prone to earn less than men.
According to the report published by the national bureau of statistics in Nigeria states that 65.3% of senior positions are occupied by men compared to 34.7% by women between 2010-2015.
Gender pay gap and promotions regardless, women are also expected to play domestic roles in the office regardless of their position. Why does a lady have to set up the conference room, why does she have to be in charge of getting the refreshments, and organising events? Even when she’s a senior staff and there are other junior staff.
Some office retreats are retreats, only for men. The women are too busy making sure everyone is well-fed and comfortable before they can fully enjoy themselves. I really appreciate the guys that always step up to assist and make sure they put in the work also.
All things considered, I recognise the work that both men and women do in the workplace, but we should be able to recognise these gender biases and intentionally put in the effort to make sure we are not playing a part in supporting them.
We should be able to make objective decisions based on one’s skills and experience, rather than the fact that one is male or female.
I hope in many years to come this is a more positive conversation; even though I still cannot believe we are still having this conversation and at every meeting I’m expected to handle refreshments in my male-dominated department because I’m female. (You can definitely tell that I’m pained. We’ve almost gone without food and drinks one too many times by now. Let’s see if they get the memo.)