In a Facebook Group I’m in, someone asked members what their worst job hunt experience was and a young lady spoke about a job interview she attended and passed and how one of the panelists followed her out to ask her for sexual favors.
“Nionjeshe nikupatie kazi,” he told her.
This, the assumption that every woman who gets a job or who goes up the ladder is willing to trade in sexual favors has to be the most damaging stereotype there is towards women at the workplace. It waters down all the work of professional women.
Here is a look into other stereotypes you will encounter in the workplace and how you can dismantle them.
Women Are Not Serious About Their Jobs
This reminds me of an editor I worked with years ago who asked me why I was looking for a raise instead of just asking my boyfriend or husband for money. The assumption seemed to be that the job was not all that serious for me.
You will encounter people like this at the workplace. The only way to shut them up is to prove them wrong. Show up every day with your A-game. The only way to show someone that you’re serious about something is to go after it with all you’ve got.
Women Are Default Matrons
You are the only woman in your department at work. You will be in the board room for a departmental morning meeting with your colleagues, there will be delicious-smelling snacks in one corner but all the eyes will be on you. Because you are the woman, the expectation is that you will gleefully jump to your feet to serve tea.
Don’t. Serving your colleagues tea at the meeting, washing up the cups they leave in the sink, and bringing your leftover food to the office for them to test your cooking skills will make your colleagues like you but it will not make them respect you. Respect is what you need to get ahead in your career.
Women Are Too Emotional To Succeed
We’ve heard this one too many times. The most memorable moment for the Kenyan woman was when writer Kingwa Kamencu announced her bid for the presidency and then she broke down at the press conference. Kenyans instantly wrote her off. How can we hire someone who cries like this? Will she be able to keep it together when the country is in crisis?
There are two things to be said about a woman being presumed as too emotional. First, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being in tune with other people’s emotions can help in your career especially if you are in a management position. A happy worker results in happy clients. Try it.
Second, there is always that dirty old trick of finding a private space and letting it all out. Don’t hold in your feelings or let them get in the way.