At my job before this one, one of the millennial guys said, “Oh this vendor is going to have their girls look over this.” And one of the woman VPs said, “Really? They have little girls doing this for us? That’s amazing.” It was a good way to call it out with gentle ribbing and a reminder that language matters.
I work with plenty of men who refer to their professional female colleagues as ‘girls’. It’s especially bad when it’s referring to an all-female team, like ‘the HR girls’.
They don’t call their male colleagues boys. Children generally have lower social status than adults. Women generally have lower social status than men. Calling women ‘girls’ in a professional contexts suggests you view them as extremely low on the social ladder. It’s demeaning and belittling, and implies that they’re more naive and less competent than their male equivalents.
Some women get socialised to go along with this and only ever be nice and unthreatening in the workplace, even if it costs them personally and professionally, because shit like calling women girls pigeonholes grown women as all of the negative things society implies about very young women 24/7 – annoying, irrational, flighty, overly emotional.
Reducing some women’s status in this way can be harmful to all women – I’ve learned to be firm and icy enough at work that I don’t think anyone does this to me, but doing it to my peers devalues the status of a group that also contains me. It makes us all a bit more dismissable and disposable as a demographic.
I call my male colleagues out on this all the time and it feels like a sacred duty.
Discussion in context.
From the Get Disciplined sub-reddit:
“Okay, friend – here it is from the other end of life. I retired last year at the age of 58 from a career in IT. I spent most of my life doing exactly what you’re doing, in school, work, relationships…and now when I look back my biggest regret is that I never pushed myself to see what I could achieve if I truly gave it my all. Don’t get me wrong – I worked for 40 years and I worked hard at every job, but my procrastination left me doing nearly everything at the last minute and thinking exactly what you’re thinking – boy, what amazing things I could have done if I had more time. I did end my career working for a large corporation and making decent money, but a huge part of me knows that I could have been so much more. I understand that it’s partly fear of failure and partly fear of success, but that knowledge is not much comfort when you’re almost 60 years old and there are many more years behind you than in front of you. PLEASE don’t do what I did. PLEASE push yourself and test yourself and let yourself be every great thing that you can be.”
Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/comments/1wtuxq/this_time_is_different_ill_honestly_believe/cf5davh
“The idea that work – that is, doing things that you otherwise wouldn’t do in exchange for money or resources – is intrinsically and morally good is possibly the greatest, most successful, most evil lie ever fashioned by our culture. It is so deeply and fundamentally embedded in the foundations of society that we can’t see it and can’t imagine a world without it. Let me say this: if you ever reach a point in your life where your needs are met, you have some measure of safety, and you have enough extra time and resources to pursue something that you love, for God’s sake stop there. It doesn’t get better after that! It gets more complicated, more presigious, etc, but not better. In fact, if you can get all of those things while working only part time then more power to you! Free up some hours for somebody who needs ’em! It’s great to have fulfilling work, it’s great to have things to do that you love that you think are important and worthwhile. But don’t do more of them than you want to just because you feel like you’re expected to. No good comes of that.”
Commenter on MetaFilter.