The other day, as I drove home from a family weekend out-of-state, an indicator light came on. I pulled into a gas station to check my tire pressure. The cashier said they didn’t sell tire pressure gauges, but offered to lend me theirs. After thanking her, I asked where the air hose was.
“Around the corner by the garage,” she answered, and then added, “Do you need help?”
I looked at her blankly, confused.
“Most women need help with that,” she explained.
Most women need help checking and correcting their air pressure? Really?! You have got to be kidding me.
That story reminded me of a Saturday night a couple weeks ago when my husband and I stopped to see my nephew Tristan working the door at Fat Tuesdays, a local restaurant/bar with live music. During the hour we stood chatting, I noticed with great interest how couples handled the cover charge. Without exception, as each couple approached, the woman stopped in her tracks and as she hung back, her date stepped up, extracted his wallet and paid for both.
Later I asked Tristan for statistics on the whole evening and he responded that 80-90% of the time, the man paid both cover charges without discussion. On rare occasions, both parties paid or the woman promised to buy the first drink.
What does this have to do with Women of HR? Well, all of us in the HR blogosphere are all-too-acquainted with the hackneyed phrase, “Seat at the table.” (In fact, there is a distinct danger that my PHR may be yanked for using such an annoying cliche. But bear with me.)
HR professionals want to be recognized as full, active, competent, invaluable business partners who make a positive difference to the bottom line, not as administrative support staff who fill out forms and plan the company picnic. That’s not so different from women wanting a seat at the table in politics and business. We want to be taken seriously. We want to share our gifts and talents, advance, success. We don’t want to hear patronizing comments like, “What will we do when she gets PMS?” when we run for office or pursue a promotion. We want to break through that glass ceiling and have all the opportunities and rewards of our male colleagues.
Now this is just my opinion, but I believe we can further our cause by being self-reliant, resourceful, capable adults who can take care of ourselves in a pinch, even if we don’t always need to. Now at times, whether male or female, we all appreciate being cared for by our partners, and I’m not knocking that. But if in our personal relationships, men know as to be consistently helpless and dependent, guess what image men carry into the voting booth and the C-suite?
Let’s stop hanging back while men step up. Here’s your homework. Get out the tire gauge and measure your air pressure, even if your partner is glad to do it for you. Learn to check your oil. Learn to change a tire, even if you have AAA. Who knows, one day your cell phone may fail you and you’ll be stuck out in the country. Learn some simple repairs around the house. Insist on paying for date expenses fairly.
Knowing how to take care of yourself feels GOOD, and who knows, being capable and self-reliant might help us all win seats at the big boys’ table.
Photo by devdababe
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Krista, that’s an interesting (and sad) study. I’ll admit that I’m directionally challenged…but I’ve never once tried to blame my navigational deficiencies on being a woman!
Wooo I’m famous!!! I like your blog!
@Bart, I am so honored you would stop by and comment. So basically, we both agree! You would like to have a fuller experience in the kitchen, with more autonomy and responsibility. And I want women to have fuller, more autonomous experiences throughout their lifes.
So we agree….!
(To anyone who is wondering “Bart” is my son. And Bart, you can take over additional chef duties any time.)
Hi, I would just like to give an example of a situation where a man would be lost. If you’ve ever been to a big thanksgiving get-together and walked into the kitchen. Female relatives will walk right into the kitchen, pick up a cooking utensil, and help out. This is the reverse of the situation where the woman steps back while the man pays. The man is told just to sit down and watch the kids while they try to kill the dog or something (of course there’s a football game on and they wind up sitting in front of the tv). This often happens after the man asks how he can help prepare the meal. I’v experienced a bit of this myself with my mother, actually, before dinner at home. “Mom, can I cook something?”
“Sure, skin those potatoes.” or, “Wash this”,”Microwave this.” This is when she starts colorful mixtures of stuff up, adjusting space-age knobs, and mixing unkown materials in a pot. This prompts me to think to myself, “No, Mom! I would like to be fully dependable too!”
To me, it just seems like there are things men do, there are things women do. You come together with your other half and you make a whole.
@Shennee, thanks for your comments but don’t take any of my suggestions too literally. More go with the concept that we as women can find ways to become a little more self-reliant and give men a run for their money!. The approach any given woman decides on could be quite different.
@Jennifer, thanks for the story. I’m almost surprised the clerk didn’t ask for a note from hubby authorizing the transaction! That reminds me, a few years ago, a friend applied for a route sales position with a bakery, only to be told flat-out: “We don’t hire women.” She could have lodged a very successful EEOC complaint, but that’s not my point. My point is that the man who so ineloquently put his foot in his (and the corporation’s) mouth is someone’s husband, boyfriend, brother. As women, let’s not give the men in our lives any reasons to think that we can’t keep up with the boys. Interestingly, have you seen the study that hit the just news: 88% of women admit to using their gender to get out of doing the hard or icky stuff? Come on friends, this kind of approach is a very short -term and individual gain with a significant and collective longterm cost. Here’s one summary at: http://newslite.tv/2010/10/06/women-use-gender-as-an-excuse.html. Check it out and I’d love to hear your reaction.
Well said Krista! I had a similar experience at Home Depot when I went to buy paint for my basement that I’m renovating. The clerk asked me if “my husband sent me for the paint…is he overseeing this project?” Never once considering that maybe I’m handling the project on my own…
There is definitely a certain amount of self-confidence that comes along with knowing you can take care of yourself, even if you don’t have to all of the time. And certainly that self-confidence that one has out of work will transfer nicely into the workplace.
Made me realize, there are a few things, I do not know how to do myself. All the Auto issues, I really need to brush up on.