No More Tears?

I had gone to conference on Gender Equality a couple of weeks back. It was organized eWIT (Empowering Women in IT).

The conference had many amazing sessions, about the various facets of women in the work place – Health, being empowered, finding their niche, The identity of Women away from their men, and so on. Among these was a panel discussion with many questions ranging from “How did you find your place in your organization?” to “What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do as a woman?” and “How do I survive in the male dominated world”.

This is when it happened – one of the women panelists (there were two men in the panel as well) chose to answer “My male counter parts are not letting my reach my full potential by coddling me and patronizing me. How do I deal with this?”

Her answer was standard – “Make sure that the quality of work that you deliver is the best and in no way less than that of your male counter parts. Once you’ve established, if it still continues, call your manager and talk to him. Address the issue. Tell him this is how you feel. No emotions. No tears. Just focus on the issue.”

Good advice? The girl who asked the question seemed to think so.

But I have my doubts.

Women and Men may or may not have equal capabilities to perform a task in the professional set up, but they are by no means equal. Women are emotional creatures. That is neither an advantage, nor a disadvantage – it is just a characteristic. Men are territorial, and that’s how they are. Yes, men have emotions too, and women also feel the need to protect what’s theirs. I’m talking about dominant traits. That’s where it’s an irrefutable fact that women are emotional creatures.

So should women be more like men, to be treated as “equals” in the work place? Wouldn’t that mean that women are confirming to a standard that men have set for professional behavior, and women are merely adapting? How is twisting and bending into their idea of ‘ideal’ behavior result in ‘equality in the workplace’?

A Gender Equal workplace would be a place where men can be men, and women can be women – both contributing their strengths to the tasks at hand, in the way they are best at. (Don’t you dare have the thought that women can be women best at the kitchen, I’m sure the men will have to start going hungry in that case)

Women should be able to be emotionally free and work. Men should be able to cook in whatever way they find peaceful! That would be tending toward gender equality. Asking a woman to be someone she isn’t – is not anything close to Gender Equality. If that’s the advice we’re going to be giving, we have a long way to go yet.


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