Here Is Why Only Women Showed Up to the Senate After Snowmageddon

Why don't we run this motha, again?

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer


I wish I was surprised yesterday, when I read the following report on the US Senate in the wake of Snowmageddon:

Something was a little different in the Senate on Tuesday morning. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski noticed it.

The Alaska Republican was one of only a few lawmakers in the Capitol building following the weekend blizzard, and it was her job to handle the formalities of delaying Senate business until her colleagues could get back to work. After finishing a bit of parliamentary business, she described what she saw in the ornate chamber.

“As we convene this morning, you look around the chamber, the presiding officer is female. All of our parliamentarians are female. Our floor managers are female. All of our pages are female.”

Except, I’m not surprised. Not even a little bit.

I’ve read a bunch of comments about how Senators Murkowski and Collins were the obvious choice to hold down the fort yesterday as they are both local and could easily make it to work (and someone had to be there). And I understand that if anyone is prepared to think of “Snowmageddon” as just another day at the office… it’s representatives from my home state of Maine and our partner in subzero temperatures, Alaska. Where I grew up, the only times we got a snow day were when the accumulation was massive and just late enough into the morning that the plows couldn’t make it to the bus routes in time.

So fine, maybe Murkowski and Collins were the obvious choice. But here’s the part that gets me: All of our pages are female. Because of course they were, even though the current semester of pages boasts an even 50/50 split between men and women.

And the reason this doesn’t surprise me even a little bit is that I have been that low ranking staffer slogging through the snow just to prove that I would show up. You know why? Because if you’re not a white dude, you basically have to prove everything. Forever.

As many of you know, I got married really young. Like, engaged in college young. Which means that for all of my straight-out-of-college interviews for entry level positions, I wore an engagement ring. And you wouldn’t believe the outright sexism I faced during those interviews. One executive questioned if I wasn’t a little too young to be getting married. Another interviewer saw my engagement ring and made a point of telling me how demanding the job schedule was, pointing out that it meant “never seeing your fiancé.” After half a dozen interviews, all of which went in some direction like that, I considered taking off my ring. But instead, I doubled down and decided I wasn’t going to work anywhere that wouldn’t respect the fact that I could hold down a job and be a person at the same time.

That job ended up being at an indie film company. Despite being corporate owned by a global behemoth, full time in 2008 meant that the way to cut costs was to offer entry-level employees an hourly contract position that was only guaranteed for a year and didn’t come with any benefits. Which means that for my first job, I got to commute an hour and a half each way for fourteen dollars an hour. (And I was one of the lucky ones.) And yet, despite having been hired engagement ring and all, I still had to defend myself to the all dudebro middle managers.

So you best believe that come snow, sleet, hail, rain, whatever, I was there. If the Metro North was running (and it always ran), then so was I. There were days when even the president of the company didn’t show up (and he lived two towns over from me), but I did.

And you know why I was there? Because I fucking had to be. I had to be there for financial reasons (no benefits meant no paid time off, so I lost money every time we had a federal holiday). But I also had to be there to prove that even though I was twenty-two and married and living in Connecticut, I wasn’t any less serious than the male staffers I was competing with for slightly less shitty jobs. Because while they got the benefit of the doubt, I had to prove every step of the way that I wasn’t going to drop out of the race and become a professional housewife. (Thank God, I didn’t have kids.) And if you ask around the APW staff, or any of my girlfriends, everyone has one (or ten) stories about exactly the same kind of sexism and constantly needing to prove your mettle.

So do I think it was a coincidence that the entry-level staffers who showed up to the senate on Tuesday were women? No. Because right now the page program is a 50/50 split between men and women, whereas the senate is an 80/20 split between men and women. So my assumption is they look at their surroundings every day, and are able to the math.

On the APW staff, we have a running joke that we’re all really bad at not working. We apologize for getting sick (and that’s even if we’ll admit we’re sick enough to take a day off), we wait five years to take vacations, and we self-flagellate when the work doesn’t feel hard enough. It’s not something any of us is proud of. We don’t wear it like a badge of honor. In fact, we’re trying really hard to break ourselves of the habit. It’s just that, we grew up in America, and we’re women, and this is what we’ve been conditioned to do.

We show up. We throw down. We get shit done. Because frankly, we have to.

Honestly, I just want to take today’s open thread to pat ourselves on the back for whatever unseen work we’re doing. Throw it in the comments.

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t watched 9 to 5 yet, do yourself a favor and throw it in your Netflix queue now. I re-watched it this weekend expecting to laugh at how outdated it is, and instead was mostly horrified at how little has changed. In fact, in ways, it felt more progressive than some of the feminist conversations we’re having now (even our ’80s feminist films touched on intersectionality, if only for a moment). Plus there’s Dolly Parton.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • gdreizen

    1200% this. I work at a small company with 75% male employees- there’s only 5 women. And yes, the dudes work hard. But this company wouldn’t run without the ladies. I’ve never felt I have to prove myself to my awesome feminist dude boss- but being 28 with a young voice in the tech world? Yea. I do know how to do trouble shoot our app. I have to know more, be friendlier, but still serious, more available, more, more, more just because I’m a chick. 1200% this, Maddie!

  • Eenie

    First week at a new job. I’d put the metrics at 95% male for production floor and 100% female for front office (excluding engineers, sales, and floor support folks, AKA men’s jobs).

    I’ve been told 5-10 times a day that I have a hand shake like a man. Why? Because in order to be taken seriously I knew I needed a strong handshake (I have a f*cking awesome handshake, thank you very much). But that’s not what they say. They say “like a man” which is the equivalent to strong. Ugh.

    • Jess

      Ugh… the most awful feeling is when people shake your hand weird and weak because you’re a woman and get taken aback when you go in strong… What were you expecting? Porcelain?!?!?!

    • AP

      Oh lord YES to the handshake thing! I don’t remember anyone ever outright commenting on mine, but I’m a big believer in the firm handshake when you meet someone. (And I’m also firmly NOT a hugger when it comes to strangers, and I hate it when a new person goes in for a hug.) Every now and then a guy will gingerly shake my hand by the tips of my fingers, instead of the whole hand. It’s so weird and I’m always really judgmental about it in my head whenever it happens, like “I hope you don’t shake everyone’s hand that way.”

      • Ashlah

        Oh my god SAME re: the guys who grab your fingers instead of your whole hand. I find myself wondering if he just messed up this one handshake and is embarrassed about it himself, or if it’s a gendered choice, and it drives me crazy.

        • AP

          I’ve wondered the same thing myself. But after reading these comments, I’m leaning toward it’s a gendered thing.

        • Kayla

          I work with multiple men who grab your fingers AND THEN PET THEM WITH THEIR OTHER HAND.

          Can you even imagine them doing that to another men? UGHHHHHHHH.

          • VKD_Vee

            OMG OMG OMG OMG !

          • Kayla

            Right??! I’ve been limiting my comments on the women at work posts lately because my job is SO BAD right now, and I just can’t engage. I’m out of fucks.

            But I could honestly write a book called “Men Pet Me at Work and Other Fun Stories” and it would be like 300 pages of terrifying tales.

          • VKD_Vee

            I would buy that (and read it thru the tears) !

          • Lisa

            Ahhhhhhhhhh! I would want to run away screaming.

          • Kayla

            It is the most awkward thing. Once they have you by the fingers you can’t really transition to a normal handshake, so I usually trap their petting hand against my petted hand with my other hand and then attempt a normal firm handshake… except at that point there are four hands involved and it’s really really weird for everyone involved.

          • AP

            This just gave me the serious creeps.

      • Eenie

        I make it a point to crush their fingers as hard as I can when they do that.

      • Eenie

        It’s been an extremely challenge to distinguish between southern culture and sexism for me. I’m choosing to believe a lot of the mams and misses and lady’s are due to southern culture that I’m just not used to. At least I hope they are.

        • AP

          Oh, man, I wish we could spend an hour or two unpacking this over a glass of wine. As a Mississippi girl, I can say with some confidence that yes, there’s an element of southern culture at play. But it’s a strong mix of benevolent sexism, southern culture and “gentility,” and just more general sexism. It’s hard for us gals who were born and raised here to suss out, too. Sometimes even my relatively benign attempts to assert myself cause pushback, like holding a door open for a man or refusing help from a man. And it’s hard to tell if it’s always sexist or just more that men are trying to be polite and don’t get why I wouldn’t respond with appreciation. I totally get your frustration.

      • Lisa

        OMG, I thought this was just me!! We currently live in a Southern-ish state, and I thought all of the men down here just have really weak handshakes. It NEVER occurred to me that they might be deferring to me because I’m a delicate lady-person. I, too, have a strong handshake and can’t stand the awkward, floppy ones I keep receiving.

    • That’s … ugh. We actually had a female teacher in high school who made it a point to teach every one of us to shake hands firmly and professionally and I’m so glad she put such emphasis on what may have seemed like a little thing.

  • Amy March

    See, I found myself really annoyed at this story. Because Collins and Murkowski didn’t show up to “run this motha.” They showed up to “handle the formalities of delaying Senate business” until the menfolk returned. They showed up to handle non-essential business that all of the men decided wasn’t worth their time. Yes, it’s running the Senate instead of taking the notes or calling the office supplies manager or making the coffee, but it’s still work that isn’t worth their time.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Actually I had much the same response (I just need my Beyonce, OK?) Obviously this was the shit job no one wanted to do that day, that was deemed so unimportant it could be handled by all the womenfolk. And of course they showed up. Because what other choice do we have?

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Also, let’s be real. Any time a group of women get to run anything it’s because men have decided it’s not important enough to bother with. ::cough:: weddings ::cough::

      • Jessica

        I just had a conversation with my husbands about why women are assumed to plan weddings–it’s because men think they’re frivolous. He tried to argue with me, but ultimately could not come up with a real reason that men aren’t typically more involved. I also pointed out that at my cousin’s wedding my uncle only mandated the guest list to ensure none of his business contacts would be offended, thereby taking over the so called “important” part of the wedding and he was at an even bigger loss.

        • anon

          To play devil’s advocate, I specifically told my fiancé I did not expect him to come to a wedding expo because I knew it would be frustrating to be dismissed for several hours as an accessory who wasn’t allowed to make decisions. When considering the attitudes most vendors, I’d imagine men aren’t involved because they aren’t ALLOWED to be involved. We actually discussed last night (briefly) about how it seems like the really good vendors are the ones who address the couple as a unit, not a client where the explicit person in charge is the ‘bride.’

          • Jessica

            But to respond to that position is to explore literally every other aspect of life, except perhaps parenthood in the US. And believe me, if celebrity and high-profiled men started planning weddings the public would start to follow that example.

          • Sara

            My fiance came with me to a wedding show, and we immediately ruled out any vendor that ignored him. It’s sad that more than half (!!!) of the vendors there were immediate no-gos due to their decision to speak to us like I was the only one that mattered.

            One vendor actually had the gall to make one of those awful “jokes” about the groom being an accessory for the wedding. As we walked away he actually yelled, “It was just a joke!” I was happy to see people avoiding him after that.

      • ItsyBit

        I literally just took a screenshot of this thread because it’s so. fucking. real.

      • Amy March

        Or they’re at a women’s college #7sistersprideforever #readyforhillary

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          #readyforhillary indeed

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah, exactly right. I mean, that’s the point of this WHOLE EFFING STORY TO ME. Sorry, I need to go punch a wall.

      Perhaps we should change this subtitle to “why we SHOULD run this mutha.”

    • Meg Keene

      Took another shot at the subtitle for you.

    • Emily

      Yes. This is how I felt about the articles I read about this–they showed up to do the administrative work, work that needs to be done, but to me this points how unequally that work is done. It didn’t feel like a feminist victory.

  • Emily

    I work for a weird non-profit that has 16 ladies and 1 part-time dude. All of us show up for work sick, exhausted from taking care of babies/partners/life, and in legit blizzard conditions. Our dude frequently comments to not mess with the Mom Brigade, it used to kind of piss me off but now I realize there is nothing more fierce than a woman handling ALL of the business (sometimes with a baby strapped to her chest).

    • Meg Keene

      And yet. Being a mother is such an undervalued part of our culture that I routinely cover it up when talking to men in business settings. AND YET, I’m working while pumping right now, after some nights of getting up at 3:40 am, because shit’s gotta get done.

      • Emily

        RIGHT. Which always makes me wonder where the men I am kowtowing to grew up… Did they just ignore what their mom’s were doing all day?

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          I feel like I experience this so much more in my upper-middle class white liberal area than I ever did in my blue collar upbringing. Back home there’s a lot more respect for mothers, and I see much more egalitarian child-rearing, and a whole lot more respect for families in general. Like there’s an inverse trade-off that the more respect a business/area gets, the less respectful it actually IS.

          • Emily

            I totally agree. Maybe because in lower income areas people HAVE to rely on each other to survive. Siblings taking care of each other, grandparents, etc… by the time those boys grow up they’ve taken a turn at changing diapers and making lunches, so of course they continue to do so with their own children. Versus higher incomes neighborhoods where babysitters are teenage girls from the neighborhood paid for their time, mom maybe is a stay-at-home caretaker… and the boys can like go to Space Camp or whatever

      • TeaforTwo

        This. I have a pretty family-friendly employer (I wrote on another thread this week that my boss’s first reaction to my pregnancy was to FIRM UP MY RAISE so I would have better-paid mat leave and a better job to come back to), But.

        It’s only my male coworkers who talk about their kids. I know which women have kids, but with the dads in my office I know their kids’ names, I know when their kids’ school concerts are, I know who’s still in diapers at night and who learned to ride without training wheels on the weekend etc. etc. It’s the dads who have kid art on their office walls, and who come into my office to show me a video of their toddler that the sitter just texted them. Never, ever the moms. Not once the moms.

        Like I said, family-friendly environment (and non-birth parents get 4 months’ parental leave at full salary, which most dads seem to take, and no one minds), but the moms are definitely picking up on something, and don’t want to be typecast. It isn’t even occurring to the dudes that could happen.

    • sniffly

      As somebody nursing a massive cold at the moment, please stop coming to work sick and getting everyone else sick.

      • Amy March

        I agree. I don’t think we should be praising women for showing up to work sick and in a dangerous blizzard. It’s a bad thing to do!

        • lmba

          Yes, agreed, but it’s a privilege to be able to stay home under those conditions. In my broke-er days, I did this all the time because my grocery budget for the week was literally $20 and I needed that money like nobody’s business. Doing it to be a martyr doesn’t help anybody, but there is often a lot more on the line (financially or in terms of your colleagues’/boss’s perception of you as a worker).

          • Amy March

            Oh of course. But if all the women doing a job at a company are coming in, and all the men doing the same thing are staying home, the issue isn’t the absolute privilege of having either paid time off or a job that pays well enough that you can afford to take an unpaid day off.

        • Emily

          While I would generally agree, our non-profit finds temp housing for the homeless or home-insecure. Usually we’re the busiest when the weather is the nastiest or when there’s a bug going around town and all of our med centers are at capacity

    • Kelsey

      That ratio sounds like every nonprofit I’ve worked at and then (much like the narratives around weddings…and parenting…) Token Guy would get praised for doing such important, sensitive work, and promoted first, and I was always encouraged to give male applicants special consideration when hiring because social work is a female-dominated field and some youth need more positive male role models and on and on. *Crushing La Croix can in fist*

      • AP

        Ugh, this just gave me a flashback to my last non-profit job. 10 women and one male intern, who was constantly being praised and given accolades for contributing the bare minimum. Where all the problems in our office were blamed on “too many women working together” by the [female!] director.

        • So much :(

          It always hits me really hard when it’s women complaining about working with other women in the work place.

        • Lisa

          Yup. We had two (fairly incompetent) men on my non-profit staff of 35 people, and they were constantly praised for their work even though it frequently included very basic errors (not de-duping donor lists, being unable to address an envelope). When I left my position, one of the men said he was interested and assumed he would get it because it was tech-related. (He didn’t. One of my last discussions with my female supervisor was that he couldn’t possibly handle the role I had because it was way too detail-oriented, and he couldn’t complete basic office functions. (See: inability to address envelopes after 5 tries. I had to teach him.))

    • VKD_Vee

      No, that “Mom Brigade” comment still pisses me off. It’s patronizing. It’s also a lazy way of saying, “women are already taking care of shit, so nobody else has to bother!”

      (….disguised as a compliment!)

  • Bsquillo

    Yeah, the bit about all the pages showing up is what really stuck out to me. Of course they did! They did for the same reason that I volunteer for every task in the office. It’s the same reason that pretty much ALL our administrative staff in my college department are female, and most all of the directors and deans are white men. Guess which group does the most of the day-to-day problem solving? (And I work with bosses who I consider to be pretty feminist men, but things would literally fall apart without the staff.)

    • VKD_Vee

      Exactly. I doubt that the female pages inherently have better work ethics. They just fear (know?) that they’ll be judged more harshly for not showing up to work.

  • Pagesrepresent

    I love this story, and I am all on board for the message. I definitely agree that women and pretty much all the non-white dudebros have to go above and beyond to overcome expectations that they will somehow be lesser.

    Having been a senate page, just a little PSA because most people don’t know what they actually are/do – which is a shame because it’s a rally awesome program. They are not really low-level staffers, they are 16 and 17-year olds who spend a semester in DC assisting in the senate chamber while attending a special high school just for them, and they are paid a good bit above minimum wage to boot. They also live a five-minute walk from the Capitol in a supervised house and they can only stay home from work when sick… If there were no male pages in the chamber it was a coincidence — they were probably off on other errands.

    Incidentally, senators don’t know this any more than the average person! They see pages but don’t supervise them. The real army of under paid and overworked people in DC are the interns (unpaid) and the first level of staffer, who make so little that common area notice board are always covered in offers for babysitting and SAT tutoring. I would certainly not be surprised if it was the women that showed up among these groups, too.

  • KM

    Here for “9 to 5” ALWAYS.

    • Maddie Eisenhart


  • sage

    Grrrr… This has happened to me too often. I studied engineering in school and have been working in patent law for the last five years. I have written at least 150 patent applications for new inventions, each having between 1 and 15 inventors listed. Of these 150 applications, how many do you think had even one female inventor listed? Just 2 :(

    More to the point, I can’t remember how many times I’ve turned around a kickass patent application (because it’s my job and I’m good at it) and the inventors seem pleasantly surprised that little me (blonde girl in her twenties) understood the invention and produced good quality work. Sigh…

  • AMcCRead

    When I saw the headline on WSJ last night, before I even opened up the story or knew the details, the first thing I made this exact point to my husband. And on one had it made me kind of proud…Like, he!! yeah! Weather can’t hold us down! But, of course, I was also pretty angry because we all know why all the women HAD to show up.

  • Ashlah

    Thank you for writing this, for putting my feelings into words. I kept seeing this story today presented as a big feminist hurrah, but no one seemed to contemplate why it was all women, why the women felt obligated to be there and the men felt it wasn’t worth their time.

  • lmba

    Okay, unseen work is a teething baby (asleep in my arms right now) who is up every hour, all night long. I’m the at-home parent and my partner is tired too from trying to cram in active parenting hours on either end of a demanding and new f/t job + a demanding and new side hustle. So yeah, we’re all tired. But I’m getting “six” hours of sleep that is actually half that because it’s punctuated by breastfeeding/baby settling/toddler waking. Ahh! We’re coping, if imperfectly. But some days I would really freaking love to have a considerate boss saying, “Thank you for doing this for the company.” Ha.

    (As a side note I HAVE to share that as I typed this, my 2-year-old just set himself up with a sensory bin at the kitchen table and poured a bag of cornmeal in it without spilling… So that is pretty awesome.)

  • Rose

    My wife was just pointing out last night how much of the non-directly science stuff in our lab is handled by the women (all of it). Who’s organizing lab meetings, or filling tips, or setting up a lab cleanup day, or taking care of packages when the lab manager can’t, or making spreadsheets to organize our greenhouse space, or mentoring undergrads, or interviewing techs, or. . . If people try to defend women leaving academia by arguing that they have fewer papers or whatever (which is a weak argument anyway, but I’ve heard it) it’s probably because they were getting everything else done.

    This summer, doing field work, was a really interesting example too. I was running the team, which for the first time was me and 3 guys, rather than majority female. And man, did those guys complain. Any physical discomfort, any inconvenience, any delay in eating lunch, or if they couldn’t figure out what to make when it was their turn to do dinner. . . I’ve worked with a lot of women in the field, and none of them have complained like these guys did. We got stuff done, even if it meant eating lunch late. Whereas the guys would just pause working on busy days to complain about the mosquitos. It’s outside in the summer. There are mosquitos. Deal with it.

    • AP

      On the guys complaining thing: I was on a road trip last month and stopped to use a convenience store bathroom, where, in a mega role-reversal, there was a huge line for the men’s restroom and none for the women’s room. And BOY were those guys in line complaining, shuffling, groaning, sighing. I walked right up to the women’s restroom, past the line of men, looking at them like, “Seriously, dudes? I don’t want to hear it.”

      But the thing that caused me some introspection later was how I was momentarily uncomfortable walking right up to the women’s room, like maybe I should offer it one of the men first since they had been waiting in line longer. Like it was my job to take care of them, to give up my bathroom, to acknowledge their discomfort with waiting in line. Thankfully, that passed very quickly when I realized that I have literally never been offered a men’s room while waiting in line in for a women’s room (I mean, I’ve definitely used men’s rooms when needed, but I’ve never seen a guy notice the line for the ladies’ room was longer than the men’s and then offer his spot to a woman.) I’ve spent half my life waiting in line for a restroom, so these guys could deal with it. But that shit is ingrained.

      • Rose

        Oh, yeah. But I totally understand the impulse, I might feel it too.

        Every time this summer that I was doing field work with cramps and dealing with having a period in the backcountry, I was glad that at least none of the guys had to deal with anything like that. The amount of whining would have been appalling.

      • Jessica

        Somewhat related…I definitely used a men’s single stall bathroom somewhere in NC this summer and the sheer terror/disgust on the waiting’s man’s face when I exited was priceless! As if they don’t share the bathroom at home with a female…

      • Eenie

        I remember reading an article about some sort of stadium that opened up with equal numbers of men and women’s restrooms, but all the men complained about the lines so they converted women’s to men’s and the lines switched back to the women’s restrooms instead.

        • AP


        • JC

          On the flip side, there is the country singer Brad Paisley, who specifies that stadiums have to make most restrooms women’s rooms (for the day) because so many of the concert attendees are women and he knows they won’t keep coming to shows if they have to wait in line to pee!

          • Eenie

            Oh I’m a female engineer. At conferences I just use the men’s room if it hadn’t already been converted to women’s.

          • Jennifer

            Unless it’s an engineering conference? At the security conferences I go to with my husband, the numbers are so skewed the men actually have restroom lines and it’s so nice to get a whole empty bathroom.

          • Eenie

            Oh haha. I meant at the society of women engineering conferences!

          • Jennifer

            That makes more sense!

        • JC

          There is a a much better article that I can’t find, but this one does a pretty good job of summing up the ways that bathrooms are sexist:

          The article I can’t find included stats on the average number of men and women who can use a restroom in an hour (it’s very skewed in favor of men, of course) and the number of women’s vs. men’s restrooms that have diaper changing stations. Both reasons we have to wait in line in socially accepted humiliation.

          • Eenie

            Thank you! This was similar to the one I read.

          • Lisa

            That article was fascinating! Thank you for sharing.

          • JC

            My pleasure!

      • VKD_Vee

        But the thing that caused me some introspection later was how I was momentarily uncomfortable walking right up to the women’s room, like maybe I should offer it one of the men first since they had been waiting in line longer.

        Agh! Lady-Disease strikes again! This shit happens to me constantly but only as I become an increasingly angry feminist have I become better at catching myself.

        Pretty sure I’m going to be sucked into this comments thread all day today…

        • Lisa

          I’ve still got it up at my desk because all of the comments are really thoughtful and (sadly) interesting that I don’t want to miss anything in this thread!

    • Sosuli

      YES. I was at a training session for grad students and academic staff of my department a couple weeks ago. We got split into smaller groups for discussion and one of the female lecturers at my table said “will one of the men please take down notes for our group, because I hate that it’s always women who end up doing it.” All three men flat out refused (bad handwriting, you put me on the spot etc.) and the women immediately started offering to do it instead, whilst trying not to bicker or step on toes. It took twice as long to figure out who was doing it, and we still ended up with one of the younger women in the department taking care of it. So even calling out this small symptom of workplace sexism totally failed. Ugh! It was like a microcosm of sexism in academia.

      • Rose

        Oh my god, that sounds so frustrating. I can’t even imagine sitting through that and not yelling at them. I was so pleased recently, at a campus where I’ve been shadowing a professor sometimes, that at the committee meeting I went to, the clerk was a man, and they rotate doing the minutes. I wish that kind of thing were more common. In our lab meetings, it’s pretty much always me.

      • laddibugg

        The handwriting thing is hilarious. I have awful, chicken scratch level handwriting that I can barely read. I refuse to take notes for others unless I can type them.

    • Crusher

      Rose, I was just telling someone about this (lab organization, in that very lab) TODAY during a diversity workshop. I hadn’t seen this comment yet. I’m not kidding. Miss you!

  • Jessica

    I saw this on tumblr today: ”

    he asks me how i keep everything straight, he says, “you’re always so polite, always looking out for everybody,” he asks me how i know how to run a house and a business and a party, how i know all of these small lessons in etiquette as if they were ingrained in me, how i weigh every situation i walk into in a fraction of an instant, how i always seem to know what to do

    and i love him dearly but i would love to live in a world where i would not have to know these things, i would love to be like him and walk with my spine straight at a train station, i would love to leave messes wherever i went and expect that someone will clean them, to never worry that i’m drinking or eating or laughing or talking too much, i would love to be able to calm down at a bar and just talk instead of worrying that the girl next to me is too drunk to walk and the person talking to her isn’t letting her go home, i would love to be blind to the things that i know, i would love to be rude and loud and to take up the space that the mountain range in me wants to expand to

    but i tell him: here is how i survive. it is all i know how to do.

    — how curious the lessons my mother taught me were never imparted to my brother // r.i.d (via

    • Magi

      Whoa. WHOA. That hit me like a *truck*. I’ve been having these conversations about emotional labor with my spouse lately and the thing is, that line about worrying about the girl in the bar? I didn’t even know I *do* that, but I DO. “I would love to be blind to the things that I know.”

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Jessica

        Right? This was great at putting it into words. I have decided to not do the things that my husband has agreed to complete that women “normally” do (at least in my family). This means that the Christmas gifts to our nieces and nephew are still unpurchased and the holiday cards that were returned from his side of the family are still awaiting new envelopes with the correct addresses. It bothers me that they aren’t done, but ultimately it is his responsibility, and it is what we agreed to. He doesn’t even think of it as remotely important or that it would hurt people in any way to receive something so late just because he didn’t think it was a priority.

        • Magi

          SAME! We have two Xmas cards that got returned (for his cousins) that have been sitting for two weeks now. Apologies for being repetitive if you’ve seen this, but this was dropped in another APW post a few weeks ago and blew my damn mind:

          It’s this amazing Metafilter thread on emotional labor performed by women, organized into a PDF.

          Trying not to hijack this thread with that, but I feel the emotional labor point is pretty relevant to all the ladies showing up to run the senate while the men didn’t bother.

          • Jessica

            This is amazing, thanks for (re)sharing!

          • Kara

            YES. This. I remember reading this a few weeks ago. Oh the emotions it brought up were incredible. Thank you for sharing this again.

          • Meg Keene


            Meal and calm? Sorry, what? I have to feed the baby with my other hand.

          • Alanna Cartier

            OH MY GOD. I had never heard of this emotional labour stuff and reading this has felt like reading my whole life and I got no work done today and also— I’m not crying your crying.

            Sent it to the fiancee, and will be doing whatever the eff I please until he has read the whole thing through.

            Especially after my birthday this week where he did absolutely zero things to make me feel loved/valued/acknowledged. I mean we live together and he didn’t even wish me happy birthday. This could not have come at a better time.

          • Magi

            Aw Alanna, I’m so sorry. :( That’s how I felt after the first time I read it. Happy birthday to you, girl! Go do you and hope he reads it and catches up. *virtual hugs*

          • Magi

            Edit: *I hope

          • This is amazing, thank you so much for sharing.

          • eating words

            That Metafilter thread is everything. There’s no such thing as posting it too often or too widely.

        • AP

          This. My husband and I divided up the wedding thank you notes into his people and my people. The wedding was in October. Mine are done. His are halfway done (and the half he did do was at my prompting) and we’re starting to get comments from his family who haven’t received one yet. And you KNOW who they’re secretly judging about the lateness. (Not him. And he couldn’t really care less.)

          • Magi

            Yes to the secret judging!! Because if he didn’t pull his weight…well, his *wife* obviously should have done it by now.

          • Jessica


          • Kara

            Exactly. My husband’s uncle passed away a few weeks ago. My husband was thoughtful enough to get family members sympathy cards, but guess what, he hasn’t signed them, addressed them or sent them. What about making a donation to the cause the uncle supported? Nope, nada. Nothing yet.

            It takes every ounce in my being not to remind him every . damn . day to send them out. He’s an adult. Do it. I love my husband dearly, too.

            (I’ve only met this uncle once at our wedding, and never spoke to him outside that weekend.)

          • Cass

            “It takes every ounce in my being not to remind him every . damn . day to send them out. He’s an adult. Do it. I love my husband dearly, too.”

            This! Its what I’ve called the tax. The idea that small things that we have agreed are not mine to do or remind for but still take a small emotional payment for witnessing without fixing. And I feel that I pay a tax each time I see this and choose not to just fix it.

          • Kara

            It’s emotional labor, and more often than not, it falls to women to do it. :(

            It’s very taxing.

    • Elizabeth

      I think about how men are allowed to be blind to things ALL THE TIME. This is a gross example, but when I lift the toilet seat, I’m absolutely horrified, but my husband, who lifts it every day, doesn’t notice really.

      But privilege is blindness. An able-bodied person has to work to notice that where they are is inaccessible. A white person has to work to notice there aren’t any people of color in their grocery store except behind the counter. And a man has to work to notice ALL THE SHIT a woman is expected to take care of (in this case, literally).

    • On the note of parents, I recently was reflecting back and realizing just how lucky I am to only have a sister (no brothers). My parents are pretty conservative with the gender roles, but since it was just us girls, I was my dad’s helper and hiking buddy and so many other things. It was only when I got to college when I began to realize that many girls had been cut out from the wilderness exploration and the handy-work and the outdoor stuff because that was what “the boys” went off and did. There were a lot of trips as a kid where it was me and my dad and a bunch of other guys and their sons. I’m really proud of my dad for still roping my sister and I into so much of that stuff (I can fix a car and a washing machine and all sorts of other stuff better than my husband because of a lot of that hands-on learning), but I’m sad that so often these stupidly rigid gender stereotypes get passed on generationally.

      • Keeks

        I had almost the same experience as you, but I grew up as the only girl among a literal handful of brothers! It was all hands on deck when my dad wanted to drop a new engine in a car or hang drywall, everyone had to do their share of the chores, and we divided neatly into 2 teams for backyard baseball. Plus I got to be the boss of everything – I had no idea that girls weren’t supposed to be bossy bitches until much, much later.

        When my parents got divorced, my dad had sole custody (and ROCKED it so hard that I don’t know if I could ever be a good parent)… so that also shattered any ideas on gender stereotypes that we might have picked up before then.

    • nutbrownrose

      Everything about this quote and the thread that it spawned (sidenote: we should use spawned more often as a word) makes me think of this quote from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros “I have begun my own quiet war. Simple. Sure. I am the one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate.” I didn’t realize until I read this in high school how true this really is, and how much it matters.

  • Ms. Yes

    So much this.

    I just have to chime in because right now I’m procrastinating on the most ironic project that’s completely related.

    I recently interviewed for a senior job and was passed over because I “wasn’t a culture fit.” Dudebros at the top felt I came off too strong for their industry and that my answers to some questions seemed dismissive. (I guess that is what channelling “I got this” gets you.) Seriously doubt they would have felt that way if I were a man.

    Fast forward 5 mths. I’m called in as contract staff to drive a couple of projects by the guy hired instead of me. Why? Because his team can’t get them done. Mind you… these are guys HE hired. All the while, it’s taking me maybe 8 hours a week to make happen and I’m shaking my head knowing that these things would be done at a fraction of the cost and man hours it is actually taking them if I had either job. Oh, and all the while doing a boatload of other things.

    So let me get this straight. I’m too aggressive to have the job, but when the dudebros can’t get it done you call me in to get sh*t done. Right. Got it.

    Le sigh. If it weren’t for the fact that #weddingsarentfree, my pride would have said no. But oh yeah… we make stuff happen, including wedding funds.

    ** although, I really really want T shirts made with your original closing: “We show up. We throw down. We get shit done. We run this motha.” Because – we do. It might be behind the scenes, it may not be recognized, but we do. If everyone one of us stopped what we do, the world would come to a halt. It’s like the gas in your car – you don’t see it, but it keeps the damned thing moving!

    • Ashlah

      Any chance you can point out the whole situation to the dudebros at the top? Because I am livid on your behalf.

      • Ms. Yes

        The “I told you so” in me so wishes I could, but I got the project because my friend (who was very sad and frustrated at the organization that he couldn’t hire me) asked his hire to work with me. So I would LITERALLY be biting the hand that feeds me, and burning a very valuable friendship in the process.

        My friend is not white, nor a dudebro, so while part of me is disappointed he didn’t fight the establishment, the other part feels solidarity and completely understands the crappy situation he is in. And so… I truck along, believing that karma and being a reliable source will win out for me in the long run.

    • I too was once considered “too strong” for a job and it made me laugh because it was one of the most challenging roles I’ve held requiring all my GitShitDone-ness and a heavy dose of graciousness that I asked once, wouldn’t it be great if you’d hired someone weaker than me?

      To their credit, the bosses laughed and admitted how incredibly wrong they were to judge me negatively for that but isn’t that what we experience all the damn time? Those in charge would rather hire people they see as buddies (hi, white dudebros) and then they want to know why the job isn’t getting done.

      • Ms. Yes

        dudebro fist bump of solidarity with you, sistah! ;-)

    • Meg Keene

      MAN HOURS? Man hours.

      • Ms. Yes

        Ok, first… let me stop jumping up and down that my second or third comment here got a comment from the Keene Queen herself!

        But yes, LITERALLY man hours. But… crap. I even suffer from the programming, because while I would like to say I typed that as a double entendre, no… the programming just goes that deep. Let me go self-flagellate now…

      • verywellthengirls

        I want a shirt that says “1 woman hour = 3.5 man hours”

        • Ms. Yes

          Second that!

    • Ugh, you must be having rage fits every time you do any work for them at all. :(

      • Ms. Yes

        Pretty much. Hence my serious procrastination yesterday. But support from you all magically makes it a little easier. Sort of like the release valve on the pressure cooker!

    • Jessica

      Put me down for one of those shirts. Seriously.

      • Emily

        me too!

        • lindsayinMPLS

          black, size medium please.

      • I would wear one and so would many of my friends. Please make them!

    • hkay

      Would refusing to do the work until you have the senior job be an option? Sounds like there is a lot of room for negotiating and you have good cards.

      • Ms. Yes

        Oh how I wish I could. But… I’m currently in between FT positions and since our wedding is in August, I kinda need the $, and as much as this particular situation frustrates me, I’m thankful for the work. And, to be honest, now that I’ve seen the inner workings of the company I realize that it would probably drive me bonkers on the daily. So perhaps “not a cultural fit” is right, but for the wrong reasons :-)

    • Sharlene McMullen Larsen

      I believe it was Iceland where ALL the women in the country went on strike – housewives, taxi drivers, nurses – all of them. It took 3 days to get some equality in the country….

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    I just have to vent about sexism in the workplace for a minute.

    So last summer, I decided to move to another state so my fiance could take a job there. I loved my job, which involved web and social media work at a radio station. I notified my boss about the move, and he told me I’d be involved in hiring my replacement every step of the way because he valued my work and my judgment.

    Fast forward a few weeks and I find out my boss has had a meeting behind my back with a fiftysomething musician who is a minor local celebrity. He’d emailed my boss about the job opening, saying he was interested in getting out of music and finding a 9-5 job. Didn’t send a resume or a cover letter, as the job application requires. Has no digital experience to speak of. His personal website looks outdated; his social accounts have barely been touched.

    Despite all this, my boss says he’s interested in hiring this musician because they’re longtime friends. I point at the huge stack of applications from eager twentysomethings who’d be perfect for the job, including one we both already know is awesome because she interned for us years ago. I actually use the phrase “ol’ boys’ club” to refute him, but he denies that’s what’s going on.

    My boss actually went through with it. He hired that guy. I spent three weeks teaching him Facebook and Twitter 101, HTML For Dummies, and Introduction to Writing Coherent Sentences when I could have spent those three weeks doing far more productive things with someone half as qualified as myself. The worst part? That guy’s salary is much larger than mine ever was.

    My former coworkers tell me things are not going so swimmingly with him, even six months later. That brings me a lot of schadenfreude.

    • Ashlah

      That’s horrible. I’m kind of speechless at how wrong your boss was.

    • hkay

      OMG, that is truly dreadful. This is beyond sexism, that is downright serious mismanagement that should be reported.

    • VKD_Vee

      Ugh! This disgusts me. Especialy b/c I know how common it is. In the small town I just moved to, this is how a LOT of people get work…

      “What mean privilidge?” – That dude

  • Aly

    I am a young female engineer working in the microelectronics field with a problem. I’ve been struggling with some issues and I thought this might be a good forum for advice. I travel to China for work and often the engineers there tell me that my job is too difficult for a female. I think they mean it in a kind, concerned way. The job requires long hours, hard travel, and strong engineering work. The problem I’m having is that I don’t know how to respond when someone says my job is too difficult for a woman. My instinct is to get upset since I work extremely hard and have been successful. I usually restrain myself though, as I’m pretty sure this is just a cultural disconnect. The even bigger problem is that when I’m exhausted from travel and struggling to keep up I start to wonder if they’re right. Maybe I am too weak? The thing is, I know my coworkers and bosses don’t feel that way. In fact, I was recently given a lot more responsibility. Any advice on how to stay confident in myself?

    • hkay

      As a slightly older female engineer, the best comeback response for most situations is “Why?”. And if it is a stupid sexist joke, just say “I didn’t get that joke, can you explain it?”
      Ask him, “why do you think that it is too difficult for a woman?” without any trace of anger or bitterness. The thing that is hard for us to accept is in most cases, they are not being mean on purpose but truly believe that it is too difficult for a female. Sad but true and I lived it so many times. But I learned that by getting upset or indignant, you get no where. And you lose a chance to show him that he is wrong. Hard as it may be, try to be curious and listen to his answer. Then smile politely and say, “in my culture we don’t believe that is true”. And leave it at that.

      The most sexism I experienced as a female enginner is from other women who show surprise and are most impressed with me for studying such a “difficult” subject. That frustrates me to no end. So many women believe that females are inherently worse at such “difficult” subjects. That is truly sad.

      Do you really believe that possessing male reproductive parts makes you a better engineer? If not, then where is your lack of confidence coming from?

      You’re not too weak, long travel and jet lag can be tough on the brain. And engineering work requires a lot of concentration and brain power so it is normal to feel tired and incapable to thinking clearly some days. And we all feel not so confident when we’re given new and challenging tasks, that is also perfectly normal. Maybe you feel the man next to you is doing better but try not to focus on what gender he is. He’s a different person with different capabalities. His reproductive parts are not the issue here.

    • Tuppet

      I’m a female engineer working in industrial automation. I just finished a job in taiwan where the customer head of international sales sat next to me at dinner one evening and after congratulating my boss on how efficient we were turned to me and said ‘on the first day i saw you i thought you were a translator because how can a woman do such a complicatded machine?’. This guy sells industrial machines to international markets and had legit never heard of a female engineer. His company makes machines but called us in because this one was too hard for them. My boss was floored that he put it so bluntly (he told me so at breakfast the next day, so points for noticing but deductions for not saying anything at dinner ).

      What i didn’t point out to my boss was that i took it as a massive compliment which had me jumping around my hotel room. Seriosly. Best (admittedly backhanded) compliment ever. A guy who didn’t even know girls could be engineers now knows that one turned up to his site from a foreign country and did work his most experienced engineers couldn’t handle, more efficiently than he could imagine.

      I had thought i was going slow because i had a back injury and could barely sit at a computer. The ‘exhausted no idea what I’m doing please let me leave and sleep’ version of myself outclassed a factory with 300 employees. Imagine what he thinks i could do at full health!

      They have low expectations because of your gender. You are exceeding them just by turning up, which kind of sucks. But look at it the other way. See how embarrassed their local staff are when you are besting them at their own game in a culture where women do not do that ever. And maybe one of the women in the front office where you hqve to pass through to reach the bathroom because women dont go to the factory floor so dont need bathrooms there will spread the word that we exist somewhere in the world.

      It’s now one of my favourite parts of the job, watching their faces when i stand up and run a 5 tonne machine i just rewired and reprogrammed work better than they ever expected. And its even better when they bypass my male colleagues to ask me questions because they realise I’m the one who knows the answers.

    • Jenn

      I want to chime in here as someone who very recently went through the same thing. I’m also a young female engineer and I was sent to China with basically no preparation or help from my company. It was definitely a stressful situation and I really obviously stood out as the only female engineer in every meeting.

      For me, I go with a “fake it ’til you make it approach.” I put my best confident foot forward and I work hard to do a good job. Though the other engineers may be skeptical at first, they will be respectful of your knowledge when you start to show results. The nice thing about engineers is that we are so data-driven that we tend to accept someone’s competence when the data supports it!

      Funny story: the first day that I went to work in China, I had to go through a metal detector to get into the factory. These metal detectors are apparently way stronger than the ones in the airport, because I could not manage to get through it. Turns out the underwire of my bra was setting it off! And there was no way around the metal detector, so I literally had to go buy a bra with my co-workers that I just met (I needed them to translate). I really did not appreciate another reminder to the group of my female-ness. Easily the most embarrassing thing to happen to me at work, but I got through it, and at the end of my trip my co-workers appreciated my help so much that they did not want me to leave!

  • Jessica

    I love this Maddie. And it’s such funny timing. This week with the snow I’ve taken a shuttle to work from NYC to NJ. I previously had driven because I “had to be there by 7 am.” You know, one hour before the boys. I’ve been taking the first shuttle which gets you there by 7:30 am. And interestingly enough, it’s been all women on that 7:30 am shuttle. Coincidence? I think not.

  • hkay

    I would like to play the devil’s advocate here for a second. We women should stop trying so hard to prove ourselves. In this story, especially because the staff is split 50/50, instead of being pissed off at the men, I wish the female pages just didn’t show up. What are they going to do? Fire half the staff? We can’t wait for the men to change, or blame them, or try to change them. We need to change ourselves. Then they will be forced to change their ways.

    When there is a void (especially in a social context), we get so uncomfortable with ourselves and rush to fill it (like the female pages or the women who offer to take notes). We’re always trying to be helpful. Let’s take a step back and see if one of the dudes shows up. And they will show up. When they do, we need to also accept that they will do it in their way, not our way. In that case, weddings will be way less spectacular and stylish, but it’ll still be a wedding and mostly likely there will still be food and dancing.

    There is a fantastic book called “Women Don’t Ask” that covers this phenomena. I love it and can’t recommend it highly enough because it puts the power in women’s hands to change and not wait for an initiative from the men. We women don’t ask in the same confidence men do. We don’t demand in the same gusto. We have this need to prove ourselves first. And we experience great discomfort at a “no”.

    It was a wake up call when I realized that my male friends from college (engineers) also experienced rejection, distrust and a lot of no’s – funny enough more than me and my female colleagues (reverse sexism?). Their attitude though was vastly different! They tend to brush aside the rejection and just ask again and again. They saw them selves as inherently deserving of more. They kept asking or looking elsewhere until they got what they want. Us, the girls, took the rejection to heart and tried to prove ourselves more. We wait until we deserve the raise without any doubt.

    It changed me. I stopped working overtime. I stopped working harder than the others to prove myself (engineer in mostly white male car industry) and I went into my boss’s office to ask for a raise. He said no. Instead of asking my girlfriends for advice, I went to a male friend. He told me not to care so much what my boss thinks or feels, simply ask again and again, negotiate other ways to get a raise. So I did, a few more times until I got it. This time without working extra hard to prove to everyone that I deserved it.

    • Granola

      I read “Women Don’t Ask” and came away with a really different conclusion. The authors point out that women don’t ask because when they do they get less and are penalized, and that for them, asking is often a bad idea. Broadly, I think you make a good point, but taking the men’s playbook doesn’t seem like an option that’s likely to be successful for me.

      • VKD_Vee

        I tend to agree with Granola. From your brief discription of the book (which I haven’t read) it seems to acknowledge an unfair and sexist status quo, but then the onus is completely on women to modify their behavior (be less afraid to act like men??) to fix it.

        No. No. Don’t like.

        • Granola

          I actually don’t think the book puts the onus on women and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

          • VKD_Vee

            Sorry, I meant hkay’s description, not yours.

            That being said… I see where she’s coming from. About five or six years ago, I worked as a senior secretary at at university in the UK. I was often tasked with making coffee, arranging social events, all that kind of crap. I think it was so drilled into me I started bringing in home baking on the regular just “to be nice”. It took a loooong time that being Miss Congeniality and jumping up to take care of menial shit for staff members who wouldn’t or couldn’t bother. I was asked to mend a hole in the crotch of a staff member’s trousers at one point and I think that was the wake-up call I needed to be like, okay enough.

            Still, I don’t think that women aren’t progressing, getting raises, etc because they need to be more aggressive, less sensitive, more confidence (bla bla) “like men” …

    • Magi

      I’m so glad to hear that this tactic worked for you. I’ve been using it more in my career dealings in the past few years, and while in some ways it has helped me out (bringing me to the forefront of higher-ups minds when thinking about a transfer I wanted, for example), it has also MAJORLY burned me. I had secured a job in a field I really wanted to work in, and took the more “manly” path of getting the discussion of what kind of leave I wanted out of the way up front; I did so in a professional, polite and totally appropriate fashion. Unfortunately, my female boss was WAY offended that I did so, thought I was arrogant and presumptuous, and actually forced me to resign (my other choice was being fired) two days in because I wasn’t a “good fit for the team”! I was so, so shocked. I got another job soon after that, and although I’d been burned I did the same thing; brought up leave in a professional, polite and appropriate fashion with my new, male boss right away. He didn’t bat a fucking eyelash. No problems at all, and I got what I wanted.

      So, obviously, your mileage may vary! I have been assured by others that the female boss from the story above was actually totally bananas (corroborated by a neutral party in the same field that had professional dealings with her before). But, I’ve got to say, I think a huge portion of that blowup came from her expectations of a meek-and-mild “team player” (in the most toxic sense of the word) versus me coming in as a professional who was ready to lean in.

      TL;DR version, taking the “manly” approach to your career can be good. It can force others to deal with you on a level that the “girly” approach just can’t, but beware that some individuals will take your assertiveness as a personal insult.

      • MDBethann

        If she was/is that kind of boss, then you were probably better off not working for her, even if you really thought the job sounded interesting. I wonder if she would have said the same thing to a guy if he did what you did?

  • Petersoncw

    “Que hermosa boda!!! La verdad me conmovio mucho que hasta llore, Bendiciones!!!” (Such a beautiful wedding! In fact, I was very touched to cry. Blessings!)

    “I cried.”

    “ohh my goshh that’s the most beautiful wedding i have ever seen. im even cried for them lol”

    “yall got me crying just beautifull bless you both!”

    “This beautiful..I started to tear”

    “Beautiful, I cried”

    “WoW! Another video of yours!”
    Wedding Photography Chennai Craftwed – Beautiful Weeding.

  • clairekfromtheuk

    So, before I dive into the comments, just wanted to say that I’m rehearsing for a production of 9-5 right now and OMG was I surprised and depressed by how current it still is!

    • clairekfromtheuk

      but also that the songs are the absolute shizz (they’re not in the film)

      • Joanna Bailey

        I totally agree. The songs are awesome

    • VKD_Vee

      wow! that’s actually so fun!

  • Bethany

    My husband and I were debating whether to watch 9 to 5 during #snowzilla — putting it on our list now!