5 Life Hacks to Fight Stereotypes in the Workplace
By Humzah Raja, Zaina Habib and Azal Zahir
Women are a prominent, strong and resilient driving force in numerous workplaces. Unfortunately, they are still underestimated in the workforce. It is ironic that in some cases this is not just by people of the opposite gender but also by their female counterparts.
Here are 5 reasons why and what are the life hacks to get out of it!
1) ‘She’s going to get married anyway’ – Society perpetuates an over reliance on men
Due to our cultural norms, it is often assumed that women do not prioritize their career as compared to men. For example, a women will get married, thus their commitment to a profession is doubted as (it is assumed) she will place marriage above career.
It is typical for men, and other women, to laugh off a woman’s ambition. It is expected that she will prefer to get married (this is just a ruse). Ironically, it is exactly this ‘expectation’ and the conditioning to adhere to the expectation that causes a lack of ambition.
At the same time men are praised for their ambition and their commitment to the job goes unquestioned.
Simply because men are thought of as the ‘breadwinners’ of the family, even though many women play this role effectively and efficiently today.
Life hack: Girls! The only person you need to rely on is YOU. Make yourself financially independent – it is the most empowering thing you will ever have. Employers will take you much more seriously when they know you are capable and not relying on your father/husband/brother.
2) Sexism in the workplace – Women can’t be leaders
Women in the workforce are often trivialized in comparison to men. Men are thought of as effective leaders in their workplace. Interestingly, this has nothing to do with their commitment to their jobs, but more so to do with their gender.
Research illustrates that when a woman takes the same approach as a man she will be assessed negatively. Rather than a savvy, ambitious effective leader, she will be labeled as bossy, a nag, moody, aggressive. Moreover, in certain workplaces women are seen as less ‘able’ unless their working style appeals to their male ‘superiors’.
Life hack: Learn how to identify sexist comments and gestures in the workplace. Also learn to identify when a male is being unfairly favoured over you. If you think your work is being less appreciated, call it out with the support of other colleagues or Human Resources at your side. This will pave a better path for you and girls after you.
3) Wage gaps – Pay less, invest less
There is a large pay gap between the two genders. Women are paid far lower than men in most industries. There are several reasons that contribute to the gap. One of the foremost reasons is the conditioning and bias that women should be stay at home moms, followed by the assumption that women aren’t strong enough or ambitious enough.
Life Hack: Do your research, know the going market salaries, know your competitive edge and demand a higher salary. Do not be afraid to ask for more pay and don’t settle for less. Know your worth. Solidify a pay raise for yourself and generations of girls that will follow.
4) She lives in a box – Women can only be teachers, secretaries or nurses
Society has assigned certain job occupations to women. If a woman steps outside of these defined limits, it is blasphemous! How dare she dream big? If she is too qualified, it narrows the pool of eligible men. How will any man marry her now?
Men have crossed over in the women’s sphere to do ‘women’s jobs’. They cook, they design clothes, they even teach! (Gasp!). No one questions these choices anymore. Instead they are lauded, for being leaders in every field. Women are slowly but surely doing this too.
Life hack; Don’t be afraid to dream big and achieve the goals you have set for yourselves. How much longer will the patriarchy define you?
There are many women who have broken the glass ceiling and serve as examples. We have astrophysicists, mountain climbers, race car drivers, cricketers, social workers and many more.
We have come a long way, but there are still some stringent barriers that perpetuate and we must overcome them. Society is redefining gender roles, why not get on the bandwagon?
5) She will crack under pressure – How will she divide her time?
It is believed that women suffer from higher levels of stress and anxiety as compared to men. Mostly employers take women as weak beings who can’t work in a stressful environment. How will she juggle work and her family? Ironically, this doesn’t apply to men.
Stress is relative to each individual, male or female. This division of time is no doubt hard, but at the same time not impossible. Employers question the dedication that a woman has to her work due to her responsibilities at home. Men are never questioned as they contribute less at home in comparison to a woman. Therefore, they believe a man’s main focus is work and woman’s mind is divided between her job and her house.
Life Hack; Women multitask on a daily basis as it is! Never let your stress get the best of you. Everyone has different levels of anxiety and stress that they deal with differently, whether man or woman. All you need to know is how best you handle yourself. Know your personality type and work in an environment that is best suited to you.
There many successful multitasking women in this world. Take New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, as an example, she is a woman with a beautiful baby daughter, yet is an outstanding Prime Minister. She made history as the first leader to attend United Nations General Assembly with her three-month-old daughter!