Stigmas in the Workplace

Sunday, I had 8 hour call scheduled with 3 strangers. Ok not complete strangers, we were all participants in the altMBA. We were tasked “… to pick something you’re working on and clearly and thoroughly state the constraints, and then turn it upside down and describe what you would do if you could find new assets to dramatically scale it up…” This was supposed to be a solo project. But we found worth in collaborating for at least an hour, to help spur each other to dig deeper. We’ve realized the saying is true by Aristotle “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We can create more and better work when we join forces.
As we were discussing constraints, it was brought up how personal constraints and undervalued view of self can undermine interactions. One person in the group had just received a new job and previously applying for jobs he was overqualified for. The statics were brought up that “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.” As we dug deeper into this, many other stigmas about women in the workplace were brought to light. Not in a “men are oppressive” manner but there are some subconscious roles and interactions that can be changed when brought to light. I opened the topic of how women feel the need to add qualifiers in their business communications (ie- “I think”, “maybe”, “just”). We curiously investigated this, and speculated women have the need to soften and nurture, which could play a role in this mostly subconscious action.  Our two male collaborators in the conversation were very open to helping analyze the deep stigmas or past bias that may have lead to some of these company cultures or personal habits. One suggested the book “The People’s History of the United States”. I brought up “Essentialism” and “Lean In” as two opposing views of what the goal for women should be in the workplace.
As the hour extended into an extra thirty minutes, one of the male contributors asked how he should approach a coworker about using qualifiers and how to best empower her. This level of generosity was exciting to help him gift!
We ended with a Pixar short. Leave it to Pixar to use their art to create awareness and change! Why can’t we all be using our medium of “art” to create change for the better?

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