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How to react when an MD asks the only woman in the meeting (me) to ping someone to ask if that person is still joining the meeting? He could have done it himself...

likefunnyupliftingsmarthelpful
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As a woman in the workplace, instead of going straight for the misogynistic card, I would try to think of the following reasons first:

1. Are you the person in the meeting that will not be talking and does not have to be fully aware of what Is happening, therefore can ping back and forth with someone else?

2. Is he/she multitasking and doesn’t have time to deal with the response?

3. Are they utilizing someone below their level to reach out to someone so the person that is being reached out to doesn’t freak out for forgetting to join/ not being able to?

I agree that there are misogynistic acts in the workplace to this day, but we have to also be careful of accusations and assumptions we make towards people just because the media says so. I’ve personally been at EY 2 years as a woman in the beginning of my career, and not once have felt I lost anything due to my gender. Except when a higher level mentor gets scared of taking me to a dinner or drinks one on one because of the fear of what it could represent.

likesmartupliftingfunnyhelpful

Please do not conflate that "fear" that men face nowadays for spending time alone with women, with distribution of "team tasks" or menial activities in the workplace.

That fear is toxic, and it is a product of society reaching for the cancel button & only shaming others, instead of everyone (yourself included, EY) taking a good hard look at themselves to say - as a person of any gender, how can I make sure that I'm doing a better job of respecting women ever day. It's not a black and white situation: do the woman thing or don't do the woman thing. It's about everyday progress for everyone.

OP was bringing up a great example of the small ways that everyone can check themselves on.

EY, you're right, there may be some justification to the request. But there also may be some unfair bias due to her gender/race/personality - and this is a really applicable scenario that maybe you can take back and question yourself on, the next time you ask someone to do this. Will you ping the team member yourself? Will you ask someone else? Who? Why them? Will you thank them for doing something that was your responsibility?
There's no perfect answer. But considering these factors is important for EVERYONE to do, if we want to make progress for society.

Share a similar experience: A Partner on my project asked me (SM) to create engagement acceptance / WBS and source contractors for another project I was not working on (pursuit or delivery). I did it, but felt I was asked because I was a woman, especially because we were not in the same team at that time.

Talked to my bf (partner at another firm) about this, and he said he would only ask people he trusts to do this - not necessarily women.

Later, the Partner asked me to create Salesforce entry for a project I’m not working on. When I asked him whether he needed help creating WBS code several days later, he said he asked another SM (male, most likely not working on the project either) to do that. So I guess he doesn’t only ask women - just somehow sold these projects by himself and hadn’t figured out teams yet. I wish their EAs could do these kind of things, but I suspect sometimes they would ask dozens of questions rather than just getting things done.

Now we are in the same team due to re-org and he is a strong supporter / sponsor, so I don’t resent creating WBS code for him.

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I am a male and get asked the same thing all the time. We need to stop looking for reasons to be offended, this is honestly ridiculous

likefunnysmartupliftinghelpful

We should probably make the workplace more of a minefield of potential offense via arbitrary unwritten rules of conduct. Is there any better way to serve customers? I sure can’t think of any!

Also, make sure all of Twitter and the entire YouTube comments section approves of your every statement and activity or you’re fired and/or sued.

I don't know this specific MD, but I doubt he'd be able to do it himself..

likefunny

Could he have asked you bc he relies on/trusts you the most?

likefunny

Bingo.

This was a pipeline update meeting. All the pillar leads had to give an update. I am a pillar lead as well as he is a pillar lead. There were other managers however, I was the only female manager.

like

Unless this is a pattern and you are the only person he asks to do these things then I would let it go. It seems fairly minor.

When I am the senior person in charge at a meeting, I would ask the person who is either seated the closest to me, most available, or most likely to do it immediately. Female here. I wouldn’t read too much into this.

like

Omg the majority of these responses are so telling. There was a similar thread about a peer being asked to take notes and most responses were either from women giving sermons of how they was never any bias and how great their workplace is or men asking the OP to chill a little and not complain . THIS is exactly what the problem is . IF SOMEONE COMPLAINS give them the benefit of doubt. Bias exists

likesmartfunny

100% exists. As part of a DEI course, they had us take note of patterns in all meetings we attended for 2 weeks. Just basically a tally. Whoa. Super telling. Who gets asked to take notes? Who interrupts? Who gets interrupted? Who talks the most? Who is quiet? I can assure you there were some very clear patterns that I never would have considered before or dismissed as a “one-off” just like the majority of people in the thread.

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Id respond same as if there were 10 other women managers in the meeting: saying “sure thing”. I don’t think this is a slight or automatically indicates sexism on the engagement.

It’s pretty normal for the person chairing the meeting to ask anyone else they see available/ on screen to ping a latecomer to join.

likefunny

So he asked you to ping the leading MD? That sounds like it could be a sign of respect, not misogyny. But none of us were there, only you were, and while I still don't understand exactly what happened I certainly don't doubt your experience. If you felt disrespected, you should politely but firmly tell him so. If he does something you find disrespectful in front of others again I think it's appropriate to address it immediately in a manner that you feel is best.

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Perhaps you’re making a mountain of a molehill

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The insidious thing about unconscious bias is that it is a problem in aggregate. No specific instance is a big deal. There’s nothing definitive to point to. You can’t “prove” anything is unfair. But facing it every. single. day. diminishes your opportunities.

I think it’s important to recognize this is a social problem, not a problem with male MDs. Other women have unconscious bias. We apply unconscious bias _to ourselves_ to the point that many of us volunteer for menial tasks. And often, when we become managers, unthinkingly assign them to women.

As a society we see women’s time as less valuable and women as more community oriented. Women doing administrative/supporting roles just feels right. This isn’t men vs. women, it’s all of us vs. our cultural heritage.

...a heritage that profoundly sucks for men, too. They face immense pressure not to show emotions or cry in public. They are judged on career and material success more. It’s harder for them to take parental leave. Many are uncomfortable hugging a same-gender friend due to homophobic stigma.

For day to day issues, I recommend Lean In. It covers the research on unconscious bias and some pragmatic approaches to navigating it.

The bigger answer is fixing this for the women we manage. And sometimes watching us do this (random task assignment programs! Rotation schedules!) helps our leadership become more aware too.

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But given the fact you're posting about this, this probably isn't the first time you felt something was off in his communication?

like

Unless he has exhibited some sort of sexist behavior before, I think you’re looking into it too much. I was on a project loaded with a bunch of men but the team member in charge was a woman and our partner would always ask her to do/coordinate something in meetings because he trusted her more than anyone else on the team to get stuff done

like

I couldn’t agree more. Alas, that seems to be the situation more often than not...

I’m a female MD and have been doing this for over 20 years. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me - and while I smiled and said “sure” and did the thing that was asked, it diminished me in front of my male colleagues. Perception becomes reality in the consulting world, as many of you may be aware. So for those that brush this off, please be mindful of that. Support your female colleagues and be aware of your own biases.

likesmarthelpful

Is this a one time event or is this a pattern of behavior?

If it’s one time ignore. Don’t read too much into it

If it’s a pattern of behavior, start documenting it and then try addressing them directly. Most people don’t realize that they’re following misogynist patterns and it just takes one person to make them aware for them to change their behavior. I wouldn’t assume bad intentions until then. 

I understand that it’s not a minority persons role to educate the majority, especially those with more power and I don’t mean to put that burden on you.

likefunny

Cmon

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It's when your bosses STOP asking you to do things that it's a bigger problem... If you're that curious, ask the MD.

like

true. my manager never ask me for anything, im worried he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to me.

I read through several of the very valid points made below (as many as my ADHD allowed).

Here’s a simple path forward: No it isn’t automatically misogynistic, but the onus is on us men to think through the dynamic in the room & take the other option. It isn’t difficult to do, and goes a long way - one cannot simply ignore this happens way too often for the wrong reasons.

Also remember, the you g ones are watching & learning. Set an example.

upliftinglike

This is an amazing way to put it.

A lot of this is based on the relationship fostered with people. I have male colleagues that could ask me to do something dumb and I wouldn't think twice because I know they aren't sexist pigs. Then there's men I don't know well. In those scenarios, I usually mentally note it until I have enough data to determine which camp they fall into.

I’ve made it sound “jokey” when it occurs to me by saying something to the effect of “picking me because I fall first alphabetically?” Don’t know if that works for you, but it innocuously makes a point.

likesmart

I get asked to do that all the time (male) and have at every level I’ve been at with my firm. It’s annoying but there could be other reasons like the MD is focusing on presenting, multi-tasking, knows you best, thinks you have best working relationship with the other person you’d be bugging, or you’re just alphabetically first (like me).

Is what the MD asked you to do that ridiculous? I’d say no. Is it part of your normal responsibilities to ping someone to follow up on something your boss asks you to? I’d say yes. IMO let this go as all of us who get asked to do simple tasks we shouldn’t have to do from a MD do.

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It's just asking you to ping someone for goodness sake! I am a woman and I've been asked to do it and I've asked men and women to do it when I'm the one leading a meeting.

like

Maybe there have been other sexist things with this particular colleague that makes u think he is sexist. But as a woman I don’t even see how this is sexist at all. Unless pinging people is something that only low level people do? Not sure bc I’m just An analyst, but I was kind of thinking “so what” after reading the comment

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Yes to all of this right here

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