Mansplaining at the office
Almost anywhere I turn, someone is there offering their help. Although “someone” is a tad too unspecific. A man is there. Think, he is so eager to fix my problems that he insists that I listen. This makes me feel so lucky and special.
I worry a lot. I think about how my estimates may be incorrect, or how my world experiences aren’t diverse enough, or my focus is too narrow. I often worry without reason though, because I am lucky. I have
people men who can help me. To tell me how things are really done, or how the world works.
Giving me their financial expertise
When I was working in equity research, I was lucky enough to meet men who would try to explain stock picking and investing to me. I was glad.
How would I otherwise be able to decide whether to put a “Strong Buy” or a “Sell” recommendation on the companies I covered?
When I worked with oil and gas, men outside the business would often try to tell me where the oil price was going.
I was reading reports and researching capex requirements for oilfields around the world, but they had read a newspaper article. Often containing enlightening information. It made me go back and question my estimates.
How to not land a job
Another would tell me that I shouldn’t spend time preparing for interviews because he had gone to an interview and gotten the job. Unprepared. No need to mention that this was for a completely different type of job.
I tried asking him how I should reply to the things I didn’t know, and he told me it would all just come to me.
I still prepared and got the job. But it must have been a fluke. I’ll follow his advice better next time.
Improving my training skills
At the gym, a guy I spoke with would try to teach me the basics of another sport. He told me how following certain principles had changed his way of thinking. That sounded interesting since I had told him I used to to the sport professionally.
He thought I could improve immensely if I applied his principles. I had a wall back home draped in medals, but he, who had tried a few times, could teach me how to do it better.
I was grateful for the opportunity to receive his corrections.
Knowing the struggle of being a woman
I often had lunches with a guy who knew so much more about women’s experience with sexual harassment than I did because he had a sister.
However, we stopped talking about it rather quickly. It was very painful for him to talk about the subject because he could envisage so clearly how his sister must struggle.
I had to stop telling him about what I had experienced because he already knew. I should have been more considerate.
Telling me how to dress or act
Others again have been very helpful giving me advice on how to dress or do my make-up.
“You would look much prettier if you fixed your hair in the morning”.
Thank you. I never considered that. Which shade of lipstick should I wear?
Other, well-meaning comments often include: “You need to teach you how to let loose, dance, care less, care more, hunt, cook, or program”.
Really anything that they thought a woman should be good at or interested in. I’m so bad at it, so it’s very nice of them to tell me.
Questioning my experiences
Another guy at a party would give me a lesson in a type of special industry event he meant had only been hosted once. I had been to several of them, hence there had to exist a lot more than one, and I thought he was wrong.
But he didn’t care. Shrugged his shoulders and kept talking.
Had I imagined all of those events I had been to? Should I email one of my friends who had also been there to ask her if I had just imagined the entire thing? I started to worry again.
Letting me know that I’m wrong
A new colleague lectured me on how a former boss of mine used to approach people for deals. Apparently, I had no clue how it was done.
A very interesting exercise given that I had spent several years with him working on deals. Even writing his emails along with the rest of my team.
This guy had met him a few times at conferences. But I clearly understood that my former boss would tell him his most intimate secrets on how he did business during those brief encounters.
I was now more worried than ever. How could I have been so terrible at my job that I had missed those details after so many years with my boss?
Telling me not to worry
An older colleague told me I was lucky there wasn’t any sexual harassment in finance anymore.
I felt lucky. I didn’t need to worry about grabbing my ass at conferences, or clients emailing me to go out for drinks without the rest of the team.
It was good to know. I didn’t need to worry anymore.
Mansplaining at the office, or anywhere else for that matter, is fairly commong. Read some helpful and interesting articles about the concept below:
- Rebecca Solnit on Mansplaining
- Words to watch: Mansplaining
- Forbes on 5 ways to shut down mansplaining at work