Musing on the boy’s club.

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Most of the people I work closely with are male. And almost 100% of the time I’m happy with that situation. But lately I’ve been musing a bit about what our male-heavy staff means for workplace dynamics.

By way of explanation, here’s the breakdown:

  • Three office/administrative employees, all women.
  • Seven program staff members, who are responsible for large ministry areas consisting of

– two male pastors (we could have female pastors, we just don’t happen to at this time)

-four program area directors – three males and me

-director of music, female, but present infrequently

-finance/stewardship person, female, also present infrequently

On paper, the male to female ratio looks pretty balanced. But in practical terms, the bulk of my work is done almost exclusively with the male program staff members.


So…is that a problem? As I said, mostly not. I love those guys – they’re fun, intelligent, enlightened, and truly excellent coworkers.

But there are times when, yes – I do feel like the odd “man” out. Small, subtle things. When I have to work just a little harder than everyone else to make my voice heard. When my perspective isn’t deemed quite as valid. When my work, in the area of children’s ministry, is given a sort of figurative pat on the head and “oh, isn’t that nice.” Not often, and not to a great degree – really, I get a whole lot of respect. And I’m given a significant amount of responsibility for congregation-wide matters. But every now and then I feel it, in a very low-key way.

Recently I’ve been paying more attention to my own reaction to this issue. For example, this week five of us (four of the men and me) were to go on a tour of an important metropolitan charity’s operation. It turned out I was too sick to go, so the guys went without me. I couldn’t help but consider how my missing this event affected my standing in the “boy’s club.” Missing out on a shared experience, a lot of joking, probably some planning for future work. Did the fact of my gender make a difference in the loss of this experience? Maybe only in my mind. But that’s where I have to live, so there it is.

One of the other guys, the one I work most closely with, asked me about the gender unbalance recently – whether I noticed it, how it affects me, whether there was anything he could do to make things better, whether it was a subject I thought we should all discuss. (I told you these guys are actually pretty awesome.) I’m not ready for a group discussion about it yet, but I think the time is coming. The fact that this guy has my back on the issue will make it a lot easier when it does happen. Not that I think it will be a difficult discussion. But, again, I will feel like the odd “man” out.

Possibly the fact that I come from a teaching background affects my perspective. On the whole, education is a female-dominated profession, though it’s still true that administrators tend to be men, which I don’t think is necessarily a healthy situation. With one of our daughters about to begin her teaching career, I’m wondering what kinds of gender bias and workplace dynamics she’ll be dealing with. Our older daughter is definitely in a male-dominated field, biological research. Lately I’ve read several articles about the sexism and sexual harassment that’s common in labs. Thankfully so far she’s experienced quite the opposite, but it’s still early days in her career.

Sometimes I’m angered that I have to consider this stuff. Bottom line, women are still significantly hampered in the workplace by the circumstance of their gender. Thinking politically, I have to admit that though I love Bernie’s message, I long to see a woman as commander-in-chief.

It’s a funny old world.

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7 thoughts on “Musing on the boy’s club.

  1. I think that in many ways men are still seen as the superior gender in work related matters. However, I’ve also seen plenty women rise up and walk side by side with them. I think that it really depends on the atmosphere, the needs of the workplace and the willingness of fellow workers to allow the women to be a part; an equal part. Having said that, I cannot imagine a woman being president. Three reasons: 1) They’re too emotional. 2) They’d have something to prove. 3) Other countries wouldn’t take us seriously (but, not like they do anymore anyway) As much as I hate to say it, I really think that being president is more suited for a man.

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      • Oh! And what about Angela Merkel? She was just named Time Magazine’s person of the year and has enormous respect worldwide. Not that you can’t have your own opinion on the issue, but I just happened to think of those two examples.

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      • They did and many women have made a great impact on this country. Because of them necessary changes have been made and lives have been made better. I’m not saying that women are incapable of making a difference or being in a powerful position. But, we are already experiencing a quick decline of respect from other countries, and although *I* don’t believe that a woman being in office should make any difference whatsoever (and *should* be respected the same as a man), I’m afraid that it would make a big difference to many of those countries who are already against us. It’s sad that it’s that way, but unfortunately it is. We may be able to change the attitudes of people here in the states, but changing the perspectives of those who live elsewhere would be a completely different story. So, please don’t think that I believe woman are incapable. They can do anything that a man can do, but I do believe that there are some professions that are more suitable for men – just as there are professions more suitable for women.

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