4 things you should not say to a woman in business (and why)Disha Kathuria
Women have been bearing the brunt of the collective stupidity of civilisation for a long time now. For the past few centuries, from the suffragette movement, to the first, second, and third wave feminist movements, men and women have stood up to question prevalent mind-set. But the separation continues. Why? No one seems to know. Some blame God, others blame the government. But there's hardly anyone who blames himself or herself for having fallen for a division that pits one half of the world's population against the other. The effects of this separation can be best studied in ways in which it has been brought about via a practise called the totalitarian tiptoe - where various forms and degrees of suppression and control tiptoe over centuries to gain complete dominance. We all have heard the adage divide and rule. The complete statement however is – divide man against woman and rule. Until we understand that no such division occurs naturally, we will continue to demean ourselves and the women of our planet by asking them, especially women who wear the pants at work, these childish questions.
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‘Your presence will spice things up’
I will draw one anecdote from a personal experience. A while back, I was at the New Delhi airport. I was boarding a flight, and on my way inside the craft, I saw another aircraft seemingly waiting for instructions from the ATC. What instantly caught my eye was a message decorating a part of the plane’s body. It read – ‘It gets hotter’ and showed three air stewardesses, driving a subtly sexual point home. Needless to say, their communication team attempted to lure passengers (especially male) to avail their travel services. Such objectification is not only demeaning, it's also quite immature, whether on an airplane or at a business meeting. That takes away all sincerity from an event where crucial business decisions are meant to be taken.
‘So, who helped you get to this point?’
There is a difference between what women want and what men want them to want. For countless times, through a great number of films and television shows, media has been orchestrating our thinking. It's through TV and media that we seem to have created a certain image of women in general and of businesswomen in particular. Not have only men fallen for such baloney but even women seem to have accepted much of what is expressed or created about them in films, music, and media, in the name of ‘creative license’. When you ask a businesswomen ‘how she got this far’ you know and she knows, that what you really mean to ask is how many men she has slept with. A women (and a man) who is unable to think for herself will breakdown and curse her gender. On the other hand, a strong-headed woman will see through the imbecile like a sheet of cellophane. Similarly, a man who thinks for himself would never even raise such a silly query.
Apart from that, there are many women in the business world who have done what any man in their position would have done. This is just to say that, anyone who is anyone is so because they have worked towards getting there regardless of their gender. Sure, there are discrepancies here and there, especially among the most celebrated occupations of our times, but to conclude that women simply cannot be at the top, on basis of popular opinion which in turn in based on a fictional TV show, is a sign of a decaying society.
‘Are you sure you can handle this?’
While not much good can be said of today's education system, their institutions still remain the only way to certify one's talent. That is to say, there are both women and men passing out from some of the most prestigious educational institutions of the world, every day. And both, men and women, more often than not, give it all they have to pass with flying colors to get smashing degrees under their belt. If they both got this far by their own personal virtue and skills, how can differences occur from the moment they enter an office and get wider till they leave it?
A woman who is a CEO is a CEO because she knows what she is doing and her efforts have been recognised. A woman who is a senior manager is in that position because she is good at what she does and knows how to deliver. Period. In questioning a female colleague's ability to perform a difficult task, just shows willful ignorance on the part of the person concerned and should be dealt with appropriately.
‘How will you work efficiently when you become pregnant?’
I won't say it's a nasty question. In fact, it's a pretty logical one. But we don't live in a world where logic runs the show, but a world where men ask women if their pregnancy will come in the way of business’ simply to share their mistrust in the business proficiency of their female counterparts. Neil French, the once famous copywriter, learnt this the hard way when in the October of 2005, he remarked ostentatiously, “(women) wimp out and go suckle something” (as reported by The Telegraph). Now that’s far out stupid. But it's also true that many men share his sentiments, if not his misplaced courage.
Men and women are one; they come from a single source and are its masculine and feminine aspects. When man and woman are divided, we are in fact divided against ourselves. When a man questions a woman's ability to deliver quality work, he questions own ability to think holistically. When a man questions a woman's ability to run a business, he is in fact, questioning his own ability to be creative. The time is right indeed, to replace the word equality with oneness.