Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Not Mother Your Coworkers

If I am being real (which I always am), I love coming home from a long day of work and whipping up some complex baked goods. And when I’ve made four dozen English breakfast scones, I have a strong urge to bring them into work because (A) I want to share them and (B) I  want to ensure I don’t eat them all myself. But, be warned: you cannot actually do this more than 3 times a year without being labled as the office mother. And really, who wants to be called the "office mother" when you could be called "techie", "genius", "magical", "badass" or just "engineer"?

The truth is that many men in my field tend to think of women as temporary fixtures in the workplace who are waiting to settle down and find a husband. So any behavior that reinforces this domestic housewife stereotype just shoots you in the foot.

Don't believe that this is still an issue in our progressive world? Well, after my first month at work, I was talking to a male coworker who had started about a week earlier than me.

Me: “Wow! Time really flies I can’t believe it’s been a whole month!”

Him: “I know! Next thing you know, you’ll be married, at home, taking care of a couple of kids.”

Me: “... Cool...”

Yes, I really did give that awkward of a response. But here I am just trying to make smalltalk and he has to bring up my apparent future as Martha Stewart. To be fair, he meant it in a nice way. But it really  goes to show that despite your publications, patents, Ivy League degree, and recent cure for cancer, some people will just see you as a mother, a wife, and someone in a kitchen making them a sandwich.

Anyways, as you can see, reinforcing the existing stereotypes by bringing in food cannot possibly turn out well.  If nothing else, people start to associate you with baked goods instead of your engineering prowess. I made bread for my coworkers over six months ago, and one of them still comes over to my desk to tell me he literally dreams about my baked goods and that he has tried to get his mother to figure out the recipe. Take that as you will.

So go out and make some friends to feed cookies, or donate them to a local soup kitchen if you are feeling particularly angelic. You can even find a local college campus and find some poor, starving students to feed (hey, it wasn't so long ago you were one of them). But if you can help it, don’t bring food into work.



PS. Technorati wanted me to put this in my blog so they know I write it... NCPYNCNZHDMM

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