How to Work in an Office Full of Women
A Man in a Women's Office
For 20 years of my career, I worked in a primarily female staffed office. There were times I was the only male, and several of my co-workers were female. I also primarily had female supervisors. Lastly, as I became a supervisor, I supervised primarily female employees. It was rare to see another male in the office. Some only lasted a few years because they went on to another line of work, or just didn't like the job. It was rare the complaint was because of the women, even though you could tell some of them were uncomfortable with the fact that the office was dominated by women.
However, working with primarily women never bothered me. In fact, it has given me a lot of experience and insight in working with women. It's a unique experience that I haven't experienced in any other work environment.
This article is not meant to be sexist in any way. Men can cause just as many issues and problems as women. If you feel that some of these observation are wrong, then feel free to express what you think in the comments below.
However, rather than tiptoe around what people feel and think, I decided to come right out and say how it's like to work with primarily women. It's better to understand and work with one another, than use our differences to keep us apart.
Men or Women
Is it easier to work with men, or with women?
I've always been comfortable working with women and I've had two happy marriages. Draw what conclusions you like from that.— Vince Cable
How to Work With Women
Working with women can be a simple and easy experience, as long as you know what to expect. Below are some tips on working in a office that is primarily staffed by women.
- Love you one second, then hate you the next. While I see men coexist for the most part, women have a love/hate relationship with their co-workers. One moment they will act like your best friend, while the next moment they will avoid you at all costs. I have seen two female co-workers go from being friends to non-speaking enemies. It happens. Just give the woman time to cool off.
- Be careful of office romances. Women tend to expose their feelings more during an office romance. They try to be discreet, but end up telling others. While the male can tend to deny the entire thing. Girls like to talk, so office romances will definitely be something to talk about. I strongly recommend avoiding them. If the relationship ends badly, you could find yourself in a difficult work environment.
- Watch your eyes. When you are talking about a woman, look at their face, nowhere else. Obviously you can't help but to see certain parts of a female body, it's impossible to always divert your eyes. But at the very least respect them and try to make continuous eye contact. This will also help avoid sexual harassment claims.
- That time of the month. Honestly, I haven't worked with any female co-workers that openly talk about this. I haven't been able to tell when it's their time of the month, despite working with them for years. They act normal either way. However, sometimes females will have female problems. They can't help talking about it, especially if they need assistance from another woman.
- Women can be emotional. They also carry their personal problems into the office. They can cry, get upset, and let their personal lives affect what is going in the office. The same can be said for men, but women are a lot more transparent when it comes to that. Just try to be sympathetic to whatever their current problem is.
- Women sometimes don't know how to react to a man in the office. I worked with one woman who didn't know how to handle me, strictly because I was male. She felt like she couldn't discuss certain topics around me, or she had to be careful with the things she did.
- Be prepared to be "one of the girls". I constantly hear, "the ladies in the office" and other common sayings come from those who come into the office. Once they see me, they try to correct what they previously said. If you are a male in the office, expect to become one of the girls.
- Women can offend easily. Watch what you say to a female co-worker. They can be offended easily. I have made neutral comments or even a casual joke, only to wind up being talked to by my boss because they took offense to it. So watch the words you say. Women will strain to hear what you say sometimes, just to see if it will be useful later.
- Gossip, gossip, gossip. Men can gossip, but women do it so much more and cause so many more problems due to it. I have seen a simple statement get so twisted and convoluted, it's not even the truth by the time it circulates around the office. Be careful of everything you hear and don't fall prey to the gossip.
- Women can be a lot more difficult than men. Between all of these issues, women can be much more difficult than men to handle. I was once told a story by my boss. In a previous job she worked at, she had to deal with a small handful of women, while dealing with a bunch of men. She had a lot more problems with just those few women than with the many men she had to work with.
I know this is mostly geared towards helping men, but some of these tips can apply to women as well. You may even see things that you could be doing yourself and find a way to fix them.
How many females in your office?
Approximately what percentage of females do you work with in your office?
How to Supervise Women
Supervising people, no matter the gender, can be very difficult. I've had to supervise women in multiple positions, and made some mistakes along the way. However, in time I learned how to effectively supervise women. Below are some suggestions when supervising women.
- Be careful how you handle how a woman dresses. If your office has a dress code, but tactful when addressing it with an employee, especially if you are male. If it seems like you were gawking at the employee, then it can be considered sexual harassment, even if that's not the case. In some cases that I had to address how an employee dressed, I had a female supervisor handle it. It was much easier that way.
- Be understanding of female issues. Sometimes females will miss work due to various womanly problems. Try to be understanding, especially if you are a male. I once wrote an employee up for missing too much work. However, I did not know this employee had suffered a miscarriage. I only found out after another female employee confronted me about it in the office, quite angrily in fact.
- Women will use all available emotions against you. When I had to talk to a certain employee in the office, she tried a variety of emotions to get me to react. She would cry, get upset, yell, act defiant, etc. Men don't typically do that. They either accept the problem or get mad. I just learned to be stone faced when dealing with a disciplinary issue. It was the best way I could handle the situation.
- Sexual harassment isn't an issue if you are smart. I have yet to have one female employee file a complaint against me for sexual harassment. I have a policy of not dating anyone at work. You should have the same policy.
- Praise them at their work. For the most part, men come in, do their job, and go home. However, women like to receive praise for the work they do. One complaint I heard, always from women and not from the men, is that no one would receive praise. This is from people who just performed a standard job. But the praise does work in the case of a female.
Again, a lot of these points are for men. But a woman can take just as much of an advantage from these tips.
Which Gender is Easier?
Are males or females easier to supervise?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 David Livermore