I work with a group of frat house boys. Not literally, but certainly figuratively. Every conversation is speckled with expletives and raunchy stories of days gone by. There is an abundance of booze and drunkenness and unbelievably uncomfortable conversations in the evenings. There seem to be no boundaries when they are together. But, it is different for me. I am criticized for either being too engaged, or not engaged enough. It is perplexing.
I spent a few days out of town recently at a team meeting, and ended up sick, as happens when you have no immune system. I didn’t want to go out and play the last two nights and was criticized immensely for it. “Be a team player” “Your co-workers feel like you are distant” “The team dinners and off-time are critical to forge a bond that is needed in this job” and yet told “Be careful what you say” “Don’t get too personal with your co-workers” “keep your distance”. I don’t know what to do with this advice except laugh and call it a double standard, and little bit of bullshit.
This company is male abundant. Most technology companies are. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that this is one of the few times I feel a different set of rules apply because I am a woman and not a man. It makes me feel vulnerable and lacking control – something I have tried very much to avoid in my career.
Admittedly I do not currently have much of a filter when it comes to sharing. I tend to just be me. It is uncomfortable for some people, and I suppose I “get” that. But I do understand politics and business how to behave around customers.
What escapes me is a solution. I can get very good at what I do so that the other stuff doesn’t matter, grow some tougher skin, keep my mouth shut, or move on. Money is such a little whore though – and I really like having it so moving on isn’t all that appealing. That makes other fun options less intriguing (like becoming a writer or construction worker).