Monday, January 30, 2006

I was talking to a friend of mine and she was telling me how much she hates her job especially her workmates.So I thought that she worked with men who were hassling her, alas I was wrong.She works in an office that is predominantly female when it comes to the gender of the workforce.So as I was trollling the net I came across this interesting article:

Secrets of the single sex workplace

By Darren Blacksmith

Go into a British bank, library, shop, hospital department or office these days and you may find yourself playing a game called ‘spot the male’. Vast swathes of working environments are now practically all female, and they can be pretty hostile for a man to enter.

I’ve worked in places where I was the only man, and I’ve worked in places where there were no women. The male-only workplaces were far more productive and pleasant.

I worked in an office where I was the only male. I found it a very revealing experience because as I sat quietly at my desk working away I sometimes just blended into the environment and the women often forgot I was there. So I got the chance to observe an all female environment. Kind of like the fantasy of putting on an invisibility suit and hanging out in the women’s changing rooms, only a lot less fun.

The first thing that hit me about the all-female office was the sheer amount of time it took them to get anything done. Their productivity was awful. At the time I was self-employed. Sometimes I worked at home in my study and sometimes I worked in offices. A little job that took me an hour to do at home in my study turned into a major project that would take a day or more for one of these women. The main reason for this was talking. The group of women talked nonstop, and less than half of it was about work. Mostly it was vicious and petty gossiping.

But more surprising than the talking was the way they would routinely leave the office to do a little bit of shopping, buying a new dress or even to entertain a friend who stopped by the office to see them. And if they weren’t talking to one another, shopping or enjoying a visit from a friend then they were talking on the phone. And talking. And talking.

Of course, women would claim this is the fabled ‘multitasking’ which they allegedly excel at. The argument goes that it takes a woman to do more than one thing at once. Of course, this begs the question that if a woman is occupied doing several things at once is she doing them to a standard and quality as good as if she’d focused on each one at a time. Also, the type of tasks that these women were doing in the office were not rocket science, so doing several things at once was hardly the achievement of the Century.

Not only did I find them shockingly unproductive, I also found them incredibly sexist. In the office there were several soft-porn postcards and a calendar of naked and near-naked men. And often there would be a sign up with some man-bashing comment or joke. The women would also make anti-male jokes and pepper their conversations with pronouncements on the inadequacies of their menfolk. Men would never get away with this in an office these days, but for women it seems its fine. After all, whose going to challenge them?

Ten or twenty years ago all-male workplaces where women rarely ventured (such as workshops and garages) often had a female ‘glamor’ calendar on the wall featuring topless or bikini clad women. Today you never see this in these all-male workplaces, but you do see calendars and postcards of naked men in offices and workplaces where both men and women work. Presumably its okay to make a man feel uncomfortable at work, but not a woman. God, there was even a postcard of a naked man up in the barbers where I have my hair cut! Now, there were two women working there and two men, but all the customers are men. Do we really want to see this? Most men don’t.

What makes the men-bashing of the female office so hypocritical is that while they put down men, belittled them, gossiped about them and judged them behind their backs, they were utterly and pathetically dependent on men for emotional and technical support throughout their working week.

They would frequently let their moods, periods, or other minor incidents upset them and that would require them to talk to their boyfriends or husbands on the phone to put them back on track.

Computers and technical equipment presented numerous problems for them that continually required either my assistance, or a phone call to summon a tech-support man. Of course, men in offices also sometimes need help with technical problems - although not as often I suspect as women do - but the difference is that we don’t gossip and bitch about the tech-support man’s shoes and hairstyle five minutes after he’s left.

To witness a woman flirting with a male delivery man to get what she wants, then making bitchy comments about him just after he’s gone is to understand how much crueler and duplicitous women can be than men.

The constant phone-calls, bitching, emotional upsets, sexism and un-productiveness were, thankfully, not present in the all-male working environment. The all-male workplace I worked at was a building site. A range of professional tradesmen - bricklayers, plasters, painters, carpenters, electricians and plumbers - collaborating to build 24 new houses. Counter to what you might think about a building site, or how building sites are portrayed on TV and films, not once did a poster or calendar of a babe appear anywhere, and not once did any worker whistle at any passing woman. I never heard any vicious sexist jokes or comments and on the rare occasion a woman came on site, she was treated with good manners and often shown special treatment. Girlfriends and wives when mentioned were talked about fondly, and if they were the butt of any humour it was more kind than callous.

It’s hard to explain how refreshing the all-male environment is in comparison to the all-female one. It is the combination of professionally getting on with the job, the lack of bitching and histrionics, and the fact that if you need to ask for something or talk to someone you can do so in a straightforward, logical way and not have them take everything you say as a personal affront to them.

If you ever get the choice, I recommend working in the all male workplace. You’ll probably have a longer working day, less breaks and chatting, but the pride in a productive working week and the sense of self-respect in treating others and being treated in a fair, respectful, non-bitching way will more than make up for it.


At 2/03/2006 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Irena said...

But still we cannot do without each other in work place. Kinda nice to have men to flirt with and to get compliments from no?. Personally, I prefer working with guys. There is less bitching involved and petty politics!

At 2/05/2006 05:12:00 AM, Blogger Stunuh Jay said...

I like working with guys, I won't lie. We can laugh for two minutes and get on with work. It's hardly ever a glamour campaign. I find that women are more sexist agains women than men!

At 2/05/2006 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Instigator said...

@ Irena
Yes I do agree that it is hard to do without each other but I have noticed that the more women you have in a work place, the more conflict and tension you end up getting.
@ stunuh jay
Yes that is the sad thing that despite the outward appearance of sisterhood that women give there is so much boiling beneath the surface.


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