Women, The Common Underdog?



women the common underdogUnderdogs, we hear a lot about being an underdog in sports. The 6th seed in football, the 16th seed in college hoops, the last round picks in the NFL draft. They are all underdogs. We cheer for them as each win they achieve, we rally and want them to go further as no-one believed in them and expected them to pretty much phone it in. We expect the winners to continue to win but when the underdog beats that pick, we root for them hard as why not? They beat a team they should not have and we form an alliance to them like no other. While we smell a bit of bandwagon we also see bit of ourselves in them. They are achieving something we want and when we write that killer post that gets retweeted beyond our wildest dreams or land that client because we skunked the big boys, we want that appreciation and rallying. Great Cinderella story but that is sports and then there is the reality of the underdog. The workplace.

Women, the Common Underdog?

Women in the workplace has been a hot topic lately. It is frequently many times for the great strides women are making however we are seeing where that is not the general sentiment or reality. In tech, we are seeing more women emerge but yet not achieving high management jobs. Inc Magazine recently ran an article written by a woman that talked about how women have to give themselves credit and how we have to feel that we can contribute more. I was a bit perplexed by this as most women I know are contributing as much as they can and are not apologetic about it, nor should they be as many times they are give more more than their male counterparts but they are still not moving in the same direction up the proverbial corporate ladder. They key is as.much.as.they.can.

As Much As They Can

Women walking into the marketplace are labeled. Marriage hungry, baby bearers, leaving the corporate world to be the soccer mom. If that does not bring on the great depression in women, I do not know what will. Not every woman will marry, not every woman will have a child and not every woman will leave the corporate world. Wow! How can a woman not want to be a wife, a mom and have play dates with mommy and me classes to fill their days with such an easy life while their husband go off to work for the long stressful hours?! Funny how society sees the man going to that “stressful” job that garners them a paycheck and advancements but never see a woman in the same light. No, women are too emotional, caddy (ok that may be true), not focused and lose that drive that got them to where they are once they become what is deemed the marrying and child bearing age. Naturally this ignores that being home with a child each day is easy and devoid of any stress.

The Reality and Choices

The reality is that women are the underdogs. We cannot play professional football, baseball and men’s basketball. Sure they created the lingerie league for football and WNBA but that is a separation that while protecting is controlling. Controlling is harsh but true. Women are controlled by societal factors of once married it is time to have a baby, the time to be home while the husband is out traveling, the 9 months of being pregnant, maternity leave, and then being confined to working within the times of daycare. Yes, that is the reality. There are fathers that do pick up the the child(ren) from daycare/babysitter but when they cannot, who do they call? Who now has to rearrange their schedule? In divorce or in the non-married folks, we automatically think of the mother being the primary custodial parent but there are many men who are the PCP and their limitations are just as prevalent as the single mom.

The reality is that what the employers are saying insofar as the limitations that women have with becoming managers is real … for those that do have children and rely solely and exclusively upon a daycare to watch their children. For women the choice is not working or staying at work, it is more telling the boss that you have to leave to go and get your child and be a mom. While the guilt is created and a choice has to be made, it has been made with the times defined for work and the times to spend quality time with the kids. Infrequently are we championed for choosing that quality time with our kids over staying late at work because we expected to.

How Women Rise to the Top

Women rise to the top as they are met with challenges regularly. They are judged by looks, weight, status of being married or an old maid, a MILF, a happily married woman with a career that everyone is waiting for the bomb to drop of having a baby, those that do not are gossiped about by other women who have children (for not having kids) or patted on the head by the men who say their day will come. Women defy logic by consistently being there and holding down the fort. The women who have it all, define it for themselves. If they have children and stay home and care for the kids, the home, cook dinner, run here and there or if they choose to continue with their career and make arrangements for the children, they define it for themselves and rise to the top of what they want to rise to the top of. If they want to be the corporate executive they have to cross many barriers but they can juggle it, if they want to stay at home with spending more time configuring a schedule of homework, dance class, soccer practice and giggling with the baby, then they have risen to the top by all that they do.

Defining it for Ourselves

Defining it for ourselves is more powerful than we know. We feel we are pulled in so many directions and we are but when we say NO people applaud. When women say no in the workplace, it is seen as inability to grow within the company. I am a bit challenged here as far as my words.  A woman who has restrictions is meek, not worthy of a promotion where as a man gets to stand boldly and define themselves, their status and advancements in the workplace by their work being not conducive to the caring for the children. Imagine, having a live so carefree that children are not conducive to it. Women with children who choose the workplace who even breathed a thought of this would be chastised where men are promoted. Some fathers may feel outraged by this but are they feeling that same outrage in the workplace by the woman who is overlooked because she cannot stay at work late?

I just remember Underdog as a hero.

What has been your experience?

photo credit: ▌ÇP▐

  • I agree: women ARE underdogs. I have recently begun my own design firm and have noticed that clients still respond better to male architects versus female architects when chasing work. Maybe it’s a matter of history when it comes to landing a project – I can’t be certain.

    However, prior to this adventure, I found myself explaining that my husband & I chose not to have kids or I’d throw out an excuse, such as, “…well, that just didn’t work out for us.” The problem with my responses are that I am either a horrible person because I don’t want a child or am viewed as pathetic because I “couldn’t”. (Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do with a kid; there are people who are mentally better equipped to teach and raise children. I prefer elderly people and am more comfortable with them.)

    I once worked for a woman who told me that having children enabled her to better wrangle contractors because they are “so adolescent” (a bit catty I think). I disagreed with her: male contractors respond to respect & camaraderie, regardless of the fact that you are female or male architect (jerks are “jerks” regardless of their sex). It’s easy to see by my former boss’s actions that I wasn’t measuring-up because I didn’t have the mom-experience….but, she didn’t seem to mind that I worked 60-80 hr/wk getting the work done.

    If I am going to shake being an underdog, I will have to continue to do my best to create respectful relationships because, in spite of it all, I remain an optimist who wants to view everyone as equal.

    • Monica

      Congrats on launching your own firm. Architects is a man dominated industry from what they tell us. Changing that is a difficult hurdle but not one that is impossible.

      The pressure for women to have children, the assumptions as to why they do not and the intrusive questions are unreal. I have never and will never understand it. Something so incredibly personal is a topic of conversation with strangers.

      Women are expected to have the children, care for them, not be attentive enough at work as they are always thinking or caring for the children. It is not often that we hear a woman say that my children are not conducive to my work schedule however we hear it from some men. We hear they do not know how we take care of the kids, keep up a home, etc. We do not hear much about how we have to work harder to remain equal.

      Being an underdog is not always a bad thing as he challenges just make us stronger.