Boys’ club membership anyone?


I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.

Groucho Marx

Boys will be boys, right? The expression used to normalize certain behavior of men. Us women, are in the same context, supposed to just accept this. What about me then, the girl? What about me, the girl, when we are having these so-called team building activities or similar interactions. How do I fit in? Am I invited to the boys dressing room and participating in the casual chatter and jokes? Do we share the same sauna? Sharing some gossip over a beer after work with a colleague?

What about me, the girl, when the border between work and leisure starts to blur, friendship evolves, you chat with your colleagues as your best buddy, what a nice time you are having. Sharing office gossip, solve work related problems, dig in to the latest workplace politics and so on. Where do I fit in to all this?

As you can easily imagine, I don’t. On the other hand, mind you, I’d rather not.

But what is your problem then, you might wonder. You don’t want to, so why do you complain? See, you have to look at it from a different perspective. The problem is this, as you work together, start your team building, friendship evolves, naturally. Everything is just hunky-dory, fine and dandy, don’t you think?

Unless it was for these little, minute, disturbing details. For example, we all know about gossip, the latest office politics discussions. All the juicy details. Interesting, right? People also tend to blend the gossip with work related problems. Solving problems, sharing experiences and so on. Endearing, isn’t it?

Although, this is where the real problem starts. The effect and consequence of not being member in the boys’ club. I am not part of this. I am not part of the informal chatter about work related issues, problem solving, sharing good to know information. Because, simply, I am not one of the boys. I am not your buddy-buddy, lovey-dovey mate you man-hug and have a good laugh with, man-to-man. As a consequence, I can neither contribute nor able to stay informed. At the actual and formal¬†meeting, I have repeatedly experienced, how the real problem is already resolved, prior to the meeting. It has already been agreed on a concept or a solution. I am only formally presented with what previously informally has been agreed upon.

Under those circumstances, what actions do I need to take to get accepted, to become one of the boys? Should I start to behave like one? Stop being so boring and show some humor, accept the sexist jokes being tossed around now and then? Stop using make-up since boys don’t? Be the cute and harmless mascot, could that work? Play stupid and helpless? Minding these are the common strategies women in male-dominated workplaces tend to fall in to in order to be accepted, why not follow the trend? Why not be like everyone else? Seems to work great to be accepted, to be member of the boys’ club, don’t you think?

For the simple reason, really just one trivial, insignificant itsy-bitsy detail, they are not! They are not accepted for who they are. Not accepted for their intelligence, their achievement or their education. They have had to adjust, belittle themselves, only for a chance to be accepted into the boys’¬†club.

I refuse! I refuse, decline, send my regrets. I will keep wearing my pretty earrings, I will keep enjoy to wear make-up now and then, I will keep enjoying my intellect and self-supporting attitude. I will keep demanding to be taken serious and not sit quiet or laugh pretending I think it was funny when some lowlife blurts out sexist jokes.

In conclusion, I refuse to become a token, a symbolic representative for my gender, responsible for what women supposed to be, like and act according to a predefined role. Only to be accepted into the boys’ club. Because, no matter how hard I would even try, no matter my Masters degree, no matter my experience and qualifications, no matter my achievement, boys will be boys and I will still be the girl. No, I do not want to be a member in the boys’ club, should I ever be accepted.

Now, lets turn the focus to you. What is your experience of being a female in a male-dominated workplace? Please share.

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