Note: Gender tagging is also known as gender role assumptions
Are you aware of the "tags" placed on women in the workplace? Women are assumed to be warm, caring and emotionally available... at all times. Hell, depending on the generation, women may be expected to organize the company's potluck or bake cookies for employee's birthdays while maintaining the image of Belle and the eloquence of a figure skater.
Women in the workplace are assumed to have the characteristics of a 1950's house wife. Let's put all the assumptions together to better understand - a woman who serves as a Vice President of a company is warm, fuzzy and brings fresh baked cookies to senior leadership team meetings. Does she have boss status if she feeds into the assumptions of her gender role?
These gender role assumptions were once a reality (and in some place workplaces are still a reality). Women were not occupying half of the workforce or 126 seats in the 116th Congress or even corner offices. Women are no longer outsiders. Some news reporters are even calling 2019 "The Year of the Woman Part 2". So how do we challenge this game of tag?
Let's switch gears - now, a woman establishes boundaries at work like refocusing the meeting, revisiting workplace expectations, needing to be organized with an agenda and notes to recap at meetings. The woman is not feeding into the gender role, maybe she takes a more "masculine" approach to her leadership style or wants to establish credibility by being organized and showing less emotion, more business. Maybe this woman leads with responsibility and wants her team/organization to understand accountability. Does the game of tag still exist? Yes.
We now go after her character to discredit her authority and the power she has in her position for us to rationalize or feel better about her organized, emotionally unattached behavior. We tag her as a bitch, or cold, or type A, and the list goes on.
Why is it hard for society to comprehend or accept this type of woman as a leader?
Women tag women. Men tag women. But does the game of tag exist amongst men? If we call a man a bitch we are implying he is weak and is a bruise to his masculinity. Hmmm. Cool.
We have a lot of undoing, unlearning and vocabulary reworking.
I want to heighten your awareness and how you perceive verbal and non-verbal communication over the next week from all genders. Not just at work.
How are you tagging?
Who are you tagging?
What does the tag say about you?
If you negatively tag a woman, I challenge you to reflect why. Is it because you assumed due to her gender her response would be different? Were you seeking a more heart felt answer or cheese to go with your wine?
What can you do in your arena to elevate, empower and credit those who are kicking ass around you? What can you do to challenge tags associated with your gender? You are not a bitch because you established boundaries or expectations or held someone accountable. You are a boss. Own it.
Tag, you're it.
Tag a woman as a goal getter, a hustler, a boss lady or a role model. You have the power to change the conversation. How will you use your power to add to the "The Year of the Woman, Part 2"?
Let's pause to thank the women before us for challenging the status quo, giving us access to education, opportunities and resources. And let's pay it forward with the little girls who we raise, interact with and teach. Let her know being "bossy" means she is a leader.