"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.

 

 

Photo: Getty
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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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