Only Guy Among Women in the Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about women discrimination of men.

I have noticed that women in the workplace seem to promote/encourage women alone. This is the bias here. Gossip is what seems to be a common bond between them. Meetings and projects to produce results, often end up as talk in the air. It’s very frustrating, especially when you’re the only guy in the team. What’s even more frustrating is the sweet-talkers absolutely fail to acknowledge a poor outcome for a project; they then then play the blame game. To add to my woes there seems to be ample research about bias against women in the workplace but absolutely none about women who stereotype against men. I actually have a sense that some of them are extreme feminists. Any advice on how to deal with such a situation especially when it could interfere with a promotion? Thanks

Signed, The Only Guy

Dear The Only Guy:

In short you feel excluded and sense you are treated as not equal to the women in your work area. You see them bonding with “gossip” and label them “sweet-talkers” By that you imply they lack rigor in effort in failing to assess poor work as poor work. And I sense you have kept all this inside because you think that voicing your feelings that you are not “in” with your women coworkers and you fear dealing “with such a situation” could interfere with a promotion.

Being treated as a second-class citizen is not limited to racial discrimination or having a history of discrimination because of being a woman. An on a micro-level, being one who is different from the many who are in control acerbates the feeling of being a victim. Male nurses in a female dominated workplace have experienced the feelings you have expressed.

To be sure, I don’t know what are your particular beefs and what has or is transpiring in what you refer to as being the “only guy in the team, but here are several suggestions for you to consider:

1. Are you using “the only guy” gender to excuse yourself from risking disclosure of what you feel and think? Might biting your tongue and obsessing about women being “sweet-talkers” and “extreme feminists” be avoiding confrontation?

2. One ethical rule you might examine is; do you say things about your women coworkers that you have not said to them?

3. Do you have instances you can describe of being excluded, blamed, and/or your ideas not welcome? If so, have you brought this matter to your supervisor?

4. Could it be that you simply are not as competent as you think? Have you evidence of high quality work? Do you have communication skills, especially skills as a team member or leader?

5. Talk about talk. Both directly and indirectly talk about talk can prevent and solve worry about how you are coming across. By that I mean dare to ask one or two in a time-out conversation or all of your coworkers in a meeting: “How do you see me as a team member? What am I doing or not doing that could make me more effective? Such questions undoubtedly will evolve into a discussion of what how you feel and think. 6.

Think and act as if you were really important to your team. Voice ideas about cutting wasted supplies, wasted energy, wasted time, wasted money. Voice ideas about making your team innovative. Voice ideas about improving quality to internal and/or external customers. Voice ideas about the mission of your company. This is to say Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and if you think and act in ways that cheer on others and make their work look good, I predict you will find your negative assessment of your coworkers no longer appropriate.

Now I have delayed my more general comments about discrimination. I don’t think you have a case that can’t be handled. But from the way I read your question (which I slightly reworded to make it more pointed), I think walking in your coworkers’ shoes could improve your perspective. Therefore, the remainder of my remarks attempt to do that. Our cultural norms have been a battle of the sexes, as some have quipped women are not beginning to rule the world; rather they still are. You refer to research about discrimination against women. Why has there been so much of that and little if any about stereotyping men?

Because the stats tell us it is true. I will include some of it here because examining it should help you understand why women have not had it easy in the workplace: <>Women comprise 46% of the total U.S. labor force. With almost half of the workforce being women, female employees aren’t exactly a rarity. For most women today, getting a job is an expected part of life. This is a big change from past decades. In 1900, fewer than 20% of women participated in the labor market while today the number is around 75% and growing. Women make only 77.5 cents for every dollar that men earn. This figure comes from data on the 2003 census. Despite this gap, many economists feel that the gap between pay for men and women is due to different personal choices men and women make about personal fulfillment, child rearing and hours at work. Whichever you choose to believe, the reality is that the gap is slowly but surely closing as women become increasingly educated and dual income families become the norm, but this isn’t much consolation to those who feel discriminated against today.

Women business owners employ 35% more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined. If you’re like most people, you don’t picture a woman when you think about a business owner. Yet there are about 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., a number that comprises nearly 40% of all businesses. The idea that women don’t make good managers just doesn’t hold up when you look at these kinds of numbers, with women managing a large number of employees and making healthy profits while doing so. Women account for 46% of the labor force, but 59% of workers making less than $8 an hour. What does it mean? It means that many women are taking on jobs that pay well under a living wage. With nearly 16% of U.S. households having women who are divorced, widowed or never married as the sole providers, this leaves many women at a distinct disadvantage and struggling to make ends meet as they dominate jobs in low paying fields.Much more data is available, but enough said. I expect you don’t want more. Rather once you have had time to examine the six points, let me know if any of rings true. Finally, I propose you see your “only guy” as an opportunity rather than as a problem. Can you do that for a week or two? It will make a difference in the way you feel and act.

William Gorden