Unspoken expectations

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What I realized is that there are many unspoken expectations towards women in science that many women probably adapt to without even notizing the inappropriateness, since they never learned it the other way. From my experience, it is for example very common that female researchers are exprected to arrange birthday and other presents for their colleagues, to keep offices, labs, shared kitchens and social rooms tidy, to serve guests with coffee, actually to be the utility man for all obnoxious “small” jobs that need to be done, and that men apparently can’t do that well. And the dangerous thing is, if you don’t learn to say no at the very first instance (saying no is another important topic we should talk about later), the job sticks on you forever.

I actually started to refuse some of the above-mentioned expectations when I started on my current job. Not in an egoistic “I won’t help anyone” way, but in a way that demonstrates clear boundaries. Like, if my male colleagues do not feel they need to contribute to these jobs, I will not feel responsible either. Of course, I was critizied and trying to be manipulated with peer pressure to do the things anyway. A very common thing is that you are labelled as “egoistic” or even “anti-social” (it really happened to me!). Being labeled that way is just a means to make you act their way, because people do not respect your boundaries. At this point, many women tend to think they are not okay, feel guilty and tidy up the office to be likable again. I can just commend to take the labels and use the cleaning and present-buying time for science (like men do most of the time without being labeled). Setting and defending boundaries will just give you more respect in the long-term and people will stop having these expectations at some point.

What are your experiences in this area?

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