Working in a male-dominated industry can have its challenges there are gender-biases around every corner. After being with my company for 10+ years and have become used to being the only woman in the room. I have worked hard to achieve my success and for people/men to take me seriously at work. Being a strong leader and having good knowledge of my industry is a benefit. However, there are still times when it is obvious that I am at a disadvantage.
Over the years there have been times that it is obvious that being a woman is a disadvantage.
The other day I was in a meeting with nine people and all were men besides myself. I brought up an issue from my department that happened the previous day. Then I referred to the individual who has experience in this area. This individual was sitting across from me at the conference table. As he started talking, he was looking at the man sitting next to me. The man next to me holds the same position I do and is a partner in a sense. He continued to speak for 5 minutes to my partner and never made eye contact with me, not once.
He kept talking to my partner next to me. I couldn’t believe what was going on. No one in the room seemed to notice that this was the weirdest thing. Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me but it was starting to piss me off by the end of the meeting.
By the time the meeting was over, I was furious. When asking my partner if he noticed what had happened, he said yes. The good thing about my partner is that we are on the same page most of the time. He is a very observant person and gives great advice. He thinks that eye contact was not made because I make the men in the room uncomfortable. He told me that when men don’t know the answer to a question, they tend to make up an answer. Then he stated that I am a forward person and will call people out on their BS. This is why I intimidate them and make them uncomfortable.
Thus, he made no eye contact. I told him that is a BS answer and it is because I am a woman. Being a woman makes me incapable of understanding what he says. So, he must look to a man for the answers. In retrospect, I may have over exaggerated a bit at the time. This is not the first time this has happened and not always by the same individual.
After this conversation, I took some time to reflect on how to change myself. This is the biggest problem! I am very aware that perception is a reality. I pride myself on my self-awareness, and understand my faults and my strengths. Therefore, I re-ran through the conversation several times.
I will continue to strive to make my voice heard and push through the barriers of being a strong woman in a man’s world.
In the end, I came to the same conclusion. I do not need to do anything different. The question is how do I get others to see the problem with the conversation. A personal goal of mine is to continue to raise awareness about gender biases. The more awareness that can be brought to situations like the one described, the better we will be as a society. Women need to take charge of situations and not sit back. In short, this is only one of the smaller situations that have happened.