Posts tagged feminism

All female workplaces – nirvana or nightmare?

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And that my friends is a question I have wrestled with more than once in my professional career.  It’s the ultimate love-hate relationship.

And this is why. Hands up if you’ve ever had a conversation about the merits of a top loader vs a front-loading washing machine.  Or what about whether Napisan or bleach is the answer to getting that white shirt really white again.  Asleep yet?  And let’s not forget the obligatory conversations about poo, nappy rituals or the food fads for an assortment of little people.  

I think you get my drift.  

And if it’s January everyone is on the obligatory diet due to the imagined weight packed on over the holidays.   Heaven help you if you have the audacity to bring in biscuits or eat a donut at your desk during this sacred month as I did a few weeks back. 

I thought everyone would have calmed down a bit by then because it was February.  Diets never work right, so I figured everyone would have fallen hard off the wagon by then. But no – I was chastised by the office matriarch for the sin of temptation.  I am woman – I will make you fat.  That it was my life’s work to ruin her chance of thinness.

In an all male office they probably just slap each other on the back and say ‘enjoying that you fat bastard’ as everyone piles in for a second helping.  Now that is the kind of office I could live with. One where I could relax and have a biscuit with my cuppa without comment or justification required.

A preoccupation with food and diets is an obsession in all female offices.  In one place I worked, a colleague always ‘had a meeting’ whenever a birthday cake was being cut in celebration – she would disappear before the event and re-appear when she thought it would all be over.  Another seems not to have made lunch or cooked a meal since 2005, having jumped on one of the diet bandwagons where everything arrives at your door in a box or a packet of some description and labelled with a number or day of the week.

These people with their locked down food worlds often have no idea how to enjoy life – like everything will fall apart if a social invitation arrives which might necessitate sharing a meal – quelle horreur.  The diet obsessed keep life itself at arms length.  And if that means sucking down on a cigarette three times a day rather than having lunch – well, poor them I say.  Food fascism is in a whole other league in all-female offices and is undoubtedly the most tedious aspect.

But to be fair to my female co-workers.  It’s not all bad because where it really counts, the vast majority do a stellar job, especially the mums. In my experience I have found women to be harder-working, more productive, more focused, more competent and far better communicators and often make better managers.  No question.

Some of the women in my office have young or school-age children.  I don’t have kids myself but over the years I have concluded that far from being unreliable employees (as some employers tend to think); women with kids and who also work are often exemplary employees.  They are fantastic multi-taskers, are highly productive and generally have their nose to the grindstone all day.  And often it’s because in a sense, they do have something to prove and I’ve seen this many times.  It is easy for employers (at least in the old days) to be skeptical about employing women who they think will get pregnant and then leave.  But the truth of it is that those women come back more motivated than ever and are a huge asset.  Parenthood is bloody hard work possibly making the workplace seem like childs-play on their return.

And believe me there have been times in my life when it feels like I’ve had to cover for a conga-line of women going off on maternity leave, one after the other.  Their duties picked up by others often for no additional $$.  I can’t lie, at times I’ve resented it.  The cost for women to have their babies and then return is a burden borne by others to some degree and this is especially true for small businesses.  But despite that, over the years I’ve seen how hard they work when they return, how thrilled they are to be back in the workplace and how hard they work to prove they are worth it.  I’ve employed women returning who’ve had a long time away from the workplace to raise their children.  And in many instances have employed them over other candidates because it is obvious they just want to be given an opportunity again.  In short these women have earned my respect.  So putting the poo conversations to one side – all female work places can be fantastic.

But for overall balance, mixed gender offices are definitely more fun and more cohesive.  I generally like to have a scattering of boys around the place.  And even a few men.  I think men stop the bitchy cycle and competitiveness which can occur in all female offices.

All-girl offices, what do you reckon – nightmare or nivana?  What’s your experience.

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Tony Abbott – is the nation ready for you?

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Tony Abbott the man who wants to be our Prime Minister – what were you thinking?   Talking about the sexiness of your political candidates?  WTF – how did the subject of sex appeal spring to mind ahead of intelligence or competence?  The thing about Tony is that he is a ‘man of a certain age’ who thinks complementing women on their sex-appeal will flatter them.  He is a product of his generation.  When Tony was propping up the bar at Uni, that kind of line probably got women into bed.  However coming from a married man in his fifties with three daughters, it’s sleazy, whatever the intention and not exactly in keeping with someone who wants to be PM.

Having said that, are we all just becoming too politically correct and tripping over ourselves to self-censor.  Surely Australia’s women won’t base their entire political decision-making on an ill-advised gaffe.   Maybe we all need to lighten up.  But maybe a leopard doesn’t change its spots and this will be the first of many foot in mouth moments.  And I’d be the first to put my hand up to a few of those over my lifetime – guilty as charged your honor.  But hey that’s life.

There will be more to come in the next few weeks that’s for sure.  And the journalists will be watching, waiting and keeping count.

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wife at the office

Sure I can multi-task. It’s in my job description right?

The last thing I do before leaving for work in the morning is to load up the dishwasher.

The first thing I do when I get to the office is to unload the dishwasher.

Anyone see a problem?

This is what I call the ‘wife at the office’ syndrome.  I don’t care how many degrees you’ve got, if you work in admin like me, its like the bra-burning and the vote never happened.  I am stuck in a 1950s timewarp, where all those menial tasks (especially in smaller offices) mostly end up being performed by women.

I’ve been working twenty five years, and it’s like time has stood still.   Why can’t the cleaners do it?  Surely that would be in their job description.  But no – even cleaners job requirements have evolved beyond what it is to be a woman.  All office cleaners are required to do these days is empty bins and vacuum the carpets.  Wipe or dust anything?  You’re dreaming.  Load or empty a dishwasher – you’re definitely dreaming.

Whereas me, I don’t have a choice.  The phrase ‘all other duties as required’ is written into the standard contract to cover off all those tasks nobody in their right mind would do from choice, in a professional environment.  So the tasks that even the cleaners won’t take on, get left to the women.  And 99% of the time it is women that end up doing them.  Nothing against you guys, I’m married to one after all.  But I know that at all of my workplaces, men leave their coffee cups in the sink and walk away.  And that’s because they are at work and they don’t consider it their job.

Well guess what – it isn’t mine either! Does it really come down to the whore/madonna complex.  Cleanliness is close to godliness – if we’re not cleaning and scrubbing we may as well we walking the streets?  I don’t know.  I just know that I’ve never been able to say ‘no it’s not my job’ or I have kind of said that but it’s fallen on deaf ears.

My current supervisor, a woman a little older than myself, told me this week, a guy was making his lunch and dropped part of his sandwich on the floor.  He walked away until the supervisor stood in front of him and told him to pick it up.  His response was ‘but you’re cleaning aren’t you’ because she happened to be washing up a cup.  Neanderthal man is alive and kicking but these days can be found in Armani.

I predict the ‘wife at the office’ will be there for the next hundred years, no wait, make that a thousand.

Join me for my next exciting instalment on how to open the oven without your mascara melting.

At the office.

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Afghanistan: Girl Power – People & Power – Al Jazeera English


I hope that one day we see the liberation of women in countries like Afghanistan.  It takes an enormous amount of courage for women to take any kind of stand in an environment that is so hostile to the liberation of women or even the existence of them.

Those who do stand up are often punished for their bravery.

What it will really take to make a difference, is for the men of Afghanistan to stand beside their wives, mothers, sisters and help drive the change towards equality.  Or at the very least an increase in tolerance and respect for women.

We have a long way to go.

Afghanistan: Girl Power – People & Power – Al Jazeera English.

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winger or warrior?

We get the world we deserve when we do nothing and say nothing.

Apathy can be like a cancer in a community or a workplace.  I’ts the beginning of the end when nobody can be bothered.

A few years back there was a commotion one Saturday night and screaming and fighting could be heard from one of the apartments in the block.  That night a woman was murdered by her partner.

The next day when police were door-knocking local residences as part of their investigation, it emerged that nineteen households had heard the violence taking place.  Nobody called the police.   Everybody thought that somebody else would do it.  A couple of the neighbours told others they would call police but they didn’t.  The apathy that occurred that night resulted in the brutal death of one of their neighbours.

Life could have been been saved, but wasn’t.  The case ended up being used as part of an advertising campaign to encourage people to call police and not to assume that somebody else would do it.

We get the world we deserve when we can’t be bothered to fight for a better one.

The above case is an extreme example of the consequences of apathy but I’m sure it’s very common.

See something on television that offends you – let them know.  Hear a radio ‘shock jock’ sounding off in an offensive manner – get involved.  Activism can make a huge difference, even if we don’t think of ourselves as activists.

These people are right up there for being prepared to take a stand and for making a difference.  To them and others like them, I say thank you.

And whilst we’re on the subject of courageous women, here’s another one

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