I was watching this weeks episode of Mad Men this morning and it started making me angry.
To the point where I kept picking up the remote to fast forward through certain parts. Being me, I of course had to over analyze this. Too many scenes hit too close to home or in this case work. I have been working since I was 16. For 75% of that time I have worked in places dominated by men. Some of that was very good, some of that was very bad. Because I am so old, and have been working for so long I have also worked with every different personality type, some of them were also very good, and some very bad.
Here are some of the lessons I learned in 35 years of working.
Things are slowly getting better but it is still a male dominated world
If you are someone who is generally nice you will be assumed to be easily coerced and it is acceptable to be rude to you – just for the record if you have worked with me in the past and have memories of someone who was truly nasty to me – I also want you to remember how long they worked there afterward.
Creepy Men in power still believe that they can get away with sexual harassment – AND ALL TOO FREQUENTLY can because women don’t speak up until it gets too bad. For any young woman who happens to stumble across this – It’s not your fault if it happens – but it is your fault if you don’t say or do something the first time. If a man is behaving inappropriately in any way shape or form – say something right then and right there. Treat him exactly like you would any other equal of yours. You don’t have to stand up and scream bloody murder because your boss brushed up against your chest – pretending it was an accident and he didn’t even notice – just say “hey – your a little close there – back off.” If it was an accident, then they will. If it wasn’t an accident – they will. Don’t put up with that shit.
If you are not loud and bitching about your work – people assume you aren’t doing any work. Even in the best places I’ve worked this has held true. Because I didn’t walk around saying how overworked I was or loudly extolling my own accomplishments it was frequently assumed I didn’t actually do any work. I tried never to change this part of my personality because I just didn’t want to be this person. But it cost me a lot of money and respect. On more than one occasion bosses that I liked and respected overlooked me in favor of people doing far less, or people who were literally stealing from them, because those people loudly complained about everything and they were seen as tough – and hard workers. Even people who were co-workers in other areas of the company and not involved in my day to day work would think I did nothing. One who I still speak to and actually like actually said something about it once. I was actually OPERATIONS MANAGER at the time. Idiot.
You have to speak up for yourself and you have to have lines you will not cross. Every time I finally had enough of something and stated what I expected – I got it. No wishy washy – “I think maybe I might want”. State your case – then stop talking. Why in the world would you put up with people treating you bad or giving you less than you deserve?
If you want to advance and you have ambition – you better learn right now how to take command of a situation. You must make decisions quickly and correctly and stand behind them. Know what you’re talking about, learn everything and then the decisions you have to make quickly will probably be right. If they are not, so what. Everyone makes mistakes, say “oh shit” once, and move on. Don’t keep apologizing, don’t keep bringing it up. Just move on to the next thing. Some people become VP’s and make bad decisions all the time. They just do it with absolute confidence and self assurance.
If you want to work in male dominated industry you better learn how to work/act/talk like a man. No giggling, flirting, or little girl talk. GAG.
Sorry US – the Swedes are far more advanced than us in this whole gender thing. Not perfect, but way way better.
Oh – and just in case anyone I ever worked with in the past read this – if you read this and think – hmmmm – is she talking about me? Don’t ask me unless you really want to know. These days I have much less tolerance for it all and depending on the day I can be pretty brutally honest.