"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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Leader: The unresolved Eurozone crisis

The continent that once aspired to be a rival superpower to the US is now a byword for decline, and ethnic nationalism and right-wing populism are thriving.

The eurozone crisis was never resolved. It was merely conveniently forgotten. The vote for Brexit, the terrible war in Syria and Donald Trump’s election as US president all distracted from the single currency’s woes. Yet its contradictions endure, a permanent threat to continental European stability and the future cohesion of the European Union.

The resignation of the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, following defeat in a constitutional referendum on 4 December, was the moment at which some believed that Europe would be overwhelmed. Among the champions of the No campaign were the anti-euro Five Star Movement (which has led in some recent opinion polls) and the separatist Lega Nord. Opponents of the EU, such as Nigel Farage, hailed the result as a rejection of the single currency.

An Italian exit, if not unthinkable, is far from inevitable, however. The No campaign comprised not only Eurosceptics but pro-Europeans such as the former prime minister Mario Monti and members of Mr Renzi’s liberal-centrist Democratic Party. Few voters treated the referendum as a judgement on the monetary union.

To achieve withdrawal from the euro, the populist Five Star Movement would need first to form a government (no easy task under Italy’s complex multiparty system), then amend the constitution to allow a public vote on Italy’s membership of the currency. Opinion polls continue to show a majority opposed to the return of the lira.

But Europe faces far more immediate dangers. Italy’s fragile banking system has been imperilled by the referendum result and the accompanying fall in investor confidence. In the absence of state aid, the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, could soon face ruin. Italy’s national debt stands at 132 per cent of GDP, severely limiting its firepower, and its financial sector has amassed $360bn of bad loans. The risk is of a new financial crisis that spreads across the eurozone.

EU leaders’ record to date does not encourage optimism. Seven years after the Greek crisis began, the German government is continuing to advocate the failed path of austerity. On 4 December, Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, declared that Greece must choose between unpopular “structural reforms” (a euphemism for austerity) or withdrawal from the euro. He insisted that debt relief “would not help” the immiserated country.

Yet the argument that austerity is unsustainable is now heard far beyond the Syriza government. The International Monetary Fund is among those that have demanded “unconditional” debt relief. Under the current bailout terms, Greece’s interest payments on its debt (roughly €330bn) will continually rise, consuming 60 per cent of its budget by 2060. The IMF has rightly proposed an extended repayment period and a fixed interest rate of 1.5 per cent. Faced with German intransigence, it is refusing to provide further funding.

Ever since the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, declared in 2012 that he was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the single currency, EU member states have relied on monetary policy to contain the crisis. This complacent approach could unravel. From the euro’s inception, economists have warned of the dangers of a monetary union that is unmatched by fiscal and political union. The UK, partly for these reasons, wisely rejected membership, but other states have been condemned to stagnation. As Felix Martin writes on page 15, “Italy today is worse off than it was not just in 2007, but in 1997. National output per head has stagnated for 20 years – an astonishing . . . statistic.”

Germany’s refusal to support demand (having benefited from a fixed exchange rate) undermined the principles of European solidarity and shared prosperity. German unemployment has fallen to 4.1 per cent, the lowest level since 1981, but joblessness is at 23.4 per cent in Greece, 19 per cent in Spain and 11.6 per cent in Italy. The youngest have suffered most. Youth unemployment is 46.5 per cent in Greece, 42.6 per cent in Spain and 36.4 per cent in Italy. No social model should tolerate such waste.

“If the euro fails, then Europe fails,” the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has often asserted. Yet it does not follow that Europe will succeed if the euro survives. The continent that once aspired to be a rival superpower to the US is now a byword for decline, and ethnic nationalism and right-wing populism are thriving. In these circumstances, the surprise has been not voters’ intemperance, but their patience.

This article first appeared in the 08 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brexit to Trump