Workplace Inequality and Mean Girls

Are we (women) the reason for workplace inequality?

Ok, so let me take you down the rabbit hole for a minute before we get back to that question. The other night I was at the bar with some friends blowing off some steam from a long day of work.

Right before we left, I was victim to that all too familiar “snub” from a woman who I barely know. And it bothered me. It really bothered me. I don’t know why. Maybe because we all want to be “liked”. But probably more along the lines that she doesn’t know me well enough to have any valid reason for disliking me. Perhaps if she did (and I wronged her), I would understand her crinkled nose and side-glaring whispers before the flash of the fake smile and sing-song voice.

But it felt as if I was 15 and standing in the hallway of the school watching the “mean girls” crash through the legion of the unlucky. But here’s the thing, we are not 15. WE ARE GROWN ASS WOMEN!!

How could it be that we are treating each other this way? Did we never grow from our childish habits and our “did you see what she’s wearing” tether for approval? Maybe we weren’t loved as children, maybe we read too much Cosmo or stare at too many thigh gaps on Pinterest. I don’t even have the time, credentials, or space on my couch to address those questions in this post.

In the end, the problem wasn’t with me. It was with her. And the way that she chose to express herself in a way to try to reduce my confidence.  But it really got me thinking, how would this woman act as my colleague? As my boss? As a leader or a hiring professional? How would her supervisor feel about her treatment of other people?

That might sound silly to you. But people tend to strongly associate us with our jobs, whether we own the company or not. My larger concern is one that I hold as a core value: who you are outside of work is who you are at work.  The way you treat people, the way you react under pressure, the way you handle delicate issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly let my hair down away from the office. However, I wouldn’t engage in behavior at the bar that I wouldn’t be comfortable with professional associates knowing. Because here is the thing, well two things: “Attitude is a reflection of leadership” (my fav quote from Remember the Titans), and you never know who is going to end up being your boss, colleague, or hiring gatekeeper. Not to mention, treating people poorly is just wrong.

Now, to circle back through the rabbit hole and address the opening question: If you are acting snarky outside of work how can you convince me that you are not acting snarky at work? In addition, can this “mean girl” personality or perception hold us back in the workplace?

Now, before you send me hate mail – there is a slew of other reasons that women are at a disadvantage in the workplace. Many of them are out of our control. And this post is meant in no way to trivialize that. What I’m talking about here is something we can control.

I think the harder you work to improve those things within your control, the easier you make your road ahead for the things that you cannot control. And – this is a big one – the easier you make the road for those that will follow you.

What do you think?




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