"Just let me do my job" (Photo: Flickr/Aimanness Photography)
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"I am in my 20s, and I am already getting tired": a woman blogs on her experience in the workplace

A woman blogs anonymously on her experiences in the work place for International Women's Day.

It’s International Women’s Day today. I don’t know how many of you know this, I didn’t, but it apparently originally emerged out of the Socialist Party of America’s activism and support for female workers who were protesting their working conditions in 1908. Sticking with that theme, I want to talk about being a woman at work.

Being a woman at work is like juggling daggers made of pointy fire, whilst trying not to swear or look too much like you’re enjoying it.

I’m constantly told the reason women are paid less is because we’re not assertive enough and don’t ask when men would; the reason women aren’t given roles on company boards, or as CEOs, is because they’re not cut throat enough; and that we’re too feeling and not either aggressive or logical enough. On the other hand, by behaving in the exact same ways as my male contemporaries I am told I am too strident, loud, and antagonistic.

The male friends I have at work are the same as me: they occasionally think being funny is more important than being nice, they’re neurotic, forceful when they think they’re right, and not afraid to say ‘oi, I’m good at my job’, or ‘dude, this is wrong… fix it’, and sometimes they get things wrong. Yet I’m the bitch.

I have had people email me asking me to pass on information to a male colleague on projects I am running, in a department I am the lead in, because they assume the colleague must be my boss, despite all communications implying otherwise.  

The guys I work with and for, whilst nice blokes, regularly talk over me. The women never ever do. If I interrupt anyone, even accidentally, it is noted, trust me. I have even had a man hold their hand up to me to stop me speaking - like you would a dog or a small child - when I was about to ask a shy participant in one of our events if they’d like to contribute. 

The issue is that all of the things I am describing have happened despite the guys being pretty straight up, nice, liberal guys, who would be mortified to think of themselves as misogynistic. I’m afraid to mention it when these things happen because it would just be another example of me being a bitch.

(As a side note, I come from a left-wing perspective, but Tories are much less likely to behave like this. I don’t know exactly why this is, but I think this may be the one thing I can comfortably thank Maggie for.)

It has crossed my mind that maybe it’s me, maybe I am being unreasonable or seeing things that aren’t there, but my female friends are experiencing the same things in their workplaces. Sure, that’s a fairly self-selecting bunch, but it feels real.

I can’t publish this in my name, because if I do I am afraid it will damage my relationships with my colleagues. I’m in my 20s and I am already getting tired. Just let me do my job.

 

 

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In Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour has picked an unlikely winner

The party leader is making gains internally at least. 

Kezia Dugdale did not become the leader of Scottish Labour in the most auspicious of circumstances. She succeeded Jim Murphy, who lasted just six months in the job before losing his Westminster seat in the 2015 general election. She herself has survived one year, but not without rumours of a coup.

And so far, she has had little reward. Labour lost 14 seats in the 2016 Scottish parliament elections, and not just to the auld enemy, the SNP, but a seemingly decrepit one, the Tories. She backed the losing candidate in the recent Labour leadership contest, Owen Smith. 

Yet Dugdale has firm fans within Scottish Labour, who believe she could be the one to transform the party into a vote-winning force once more. Why?

First, by the dismal standards of Scottish Labour, Dugdale is something of a winner. Through the national executive committee, she has secured the internal party changes demanded by every leader since 2011. Scottish Labour is now responsible for choosing its own Westminster candidates, and creating its own policy. 

And then there’s the NEC seat itself. The decision-making body is the main check on the Labour leadership’s power, and Dugdale secured an extra seat for Scottish Labour. Next, she appointed herself to it. As a counterweight to Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, Dugdale now has influence within the party that extends far outside Holyrood. The Dundee-based Courier’s take on her NEC victories was: “Kezia Dugdale completes 7-0 Labour conference victory over Jeremy Corbyn.”

As this suggests, Dugdale’s main challengers in Scotland are likely to come from the Corbyn camp. Alex Rowley, her deputy leader, backed Corbyn. But Labour activists, at least, are battle weary after two referendums, a general election and a Scottish parliament election within the space of two years. One well-connected source told me: “I think it's possible we haven't hit rock bottom in Scotland yet, so the scale of the challenge is enormous.” 

Polls are also harder to ignore in a country where there is just one Labour MP, Ian Murray, who resigned from the shadow cabinet in June. A YouGov exit poll of the leadership election found Smith beating Corbyn in Scotland by 18 points (in every other part of Britain, members opted for Corbyn). Observers of Scottish politics note that the most impressive party leaders, Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, were given time and space to grow. 

In policy terms, Dugdale does not stray too far from Corbyn. She is anti-austerity, and has tried to portray both the SNP and the Tories as enemies of public service. She has attacked the same parties for using the Scottish referendum and the EU referendum to create division in turn. In her speech to conference, she declared: “Don’t let Ruth Davidson ever tell you again that the Union is safe in Tory hands.”

So long as Labour looks divided, a promise of unity will always fall flat. But if the party does manage to come together in the autumn, Dugdale will have the power to reshape it north of the border, and consolidate her grip on Scottish Labour.