A professional who I respect shared with me the other day that she fakes it at work because she feels the need to “reassure” others. This is a smart, prolific, compassionate human. And, she does care about lots of people and lots of things. She leads a full life that includes family, career, friends, community engagement, hobbies, and volunteerism. And, she knows a lot about gender socialization.
But, she confessed, she sometimes catches herself “reassuring” administrators of their authority when she doesn’t want to out of a gender pressure in the workplace. There are two layers in play for this professional, a work expectation and then an overlaying gender expectation.
Here’s how she describes it: She offers nonverbal “reassurance” when she nods her head to show agreement when she does not agree. She offers ques to those who occupy spaces of power in the hierarchy signaling that she’s on board. She’s a team player. She’s not going to cause any trouble. She’ll follow the rules. And, she offers her time and energy to all sorts of people she encounters in her daily work life in an effort to support them.
What alarmed this person the most is that she feels stuck complying with the gender game in her workplace.
This high achieving professional is not alone. That’s good (and bad) news. Many others have experienced this gendered pressure and they’ve researched ways to navigate gendered expectations in the workplace.
Believe in empowerment but feel less than empowered in your own life? E-mail me at Michelle@michellemorkert.com to set up a complementary coaching session.