Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Quirks

In my previous workplace, people tended to stress their youth.  All day, I'd hear about how well they were doing for someone their age.  Perhaps not explicitly, but it was implied!  Here they stress their seniority.  In every other (ok, perhaps less) email or conversation, someone alludes with pretentiousness to the length of their work history.  (Aside: I know and you [hopefully] know that there is just so much that is wrong with making sweeping generalizations, but I'm still going to make them and refer to them even if I offer no measure of proof.)  There is also a larger female to male ratio in my previous department than in my current one.  (This is easily measurable and proven.)  And while there is undoubtedly a whole host of things that differentiate that department and this one, I'll stop at these two.

With regard to gender ratios, I never used to think that this was something that would ever matter to me.  However, in consideration of such nonsense as sexual harassment, crazy co-workers who cross sacred lines, or the concern that my generally pleasant demeanor may be (as it has been) misconstrued and used against me, why can't I believe that the staff gender ratio is a major contributing factor to my potential happiness in a workplace?  Admittedly, I speculate (probably correctly) that it is so much more than just the high staff female to male ratio that made it such a wonderful place for me (and the rest of the staff) to go to every day.  But there is so much to be accounted to it that I'd be a fool to overlook it.  I viewed the senior leaders, who are all women, as mentors and aspired to be like them.  In my most recent role, I had the great fortune of being able to work directly under their guidance.  The entire staff (senior leaders included, of course) is composed of beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, hard-working, women who acknowledged with pride their roles as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, etc...  I was never made to feel inexperienced, young, or too girly.  I knew that my opinion was valued, and felt capable of effecting positive change.  All of our opinions were valued.  Everyone had and shared their opinions.  There are some who would say that this was a negative thing, making for unproductive staff meetings where we each gave our two cents, but I would say that they loved it in spite of the long meetings.  They are and always will be dear friends to me.

In spite of how wonderful the social atmosphere was there, it had its downside.  The experience filled my head with crazy ideas such as a sense of pride, and notions of self-worth.  They led me to believe that I'd be able to either find or recreate the atmosphere anywhere.  I should have known better.  At least I can say that I never took it for granted - neither then nor now.  It was both an honour and a pleasure.
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