A Woman's Place

2008. Empowerment for all. Equality for all. At least in theory.

But as I connect with people in various areas of work and play I realize that there are some perceptions that simply don't go away with "progress".

Over the past few months I've had a lot to do with spheres that women don't usually inhabit. E-waste recycling. Internet/networking stuff. Scrap metal dealers. The technical world I write for as a job. And it's often an ongoing struggle.

Take a recent foray into finding plastics processors for part of Virgin Earth's e-waste recycling. There's really only one in the area and I spent a good deal of time trying to get information out of them. But I'm a chick - and I was led around in circles. Favourite Man called them - and BAM, he had the info in one. 'Cos he was a guy, not a girl.

We've seen it over and over - I'll try get a foot in the door only to have my toes crushed. He just has to appear and doors open on their own. We'll both go to see someone, with me being primary contact - he'll be the one they look at and talk to the entire time. I'm just an accessory, a peripheral body in the room.

I've seen it in the 4x4 community on occasion too. The men circle the fire (whether literally or figuratively), the women have to "stay in the kitchen". I can share experience in an area where I know what's what - yet it's simply ignored, while the next bloke in line with less experience gets the attention. Heck, even random comments go un-acknowledged, never mind the experience!

It gets very frustrating sometimes. It's discouraging to be dismissed simply because you're a girl, although you may have all the expertise, knowledge or right to do business as the next bloke. It's terrible to come home knowing you've been screwed over and taken for a ride - with not a thing you can do about it - where a man would not have been.

But it really doesn't help to moan and groan and woe-is-me on this one. It's the way the world works, and I'm learning to accept it - and move on. I'm learning to take it in my stride, and sometimes simply let Favourite Man do the dealing.

And you know what? It's an arrangement that actually works well. Because sometimes - just sometimes - it's the woman who gets the deal, not the man. The woman who is heard and attended to - perhaps because she sticks out like a sore thumb, perhaps because she has the guts to take on man's domain, perhaps just because she's a "novelty", or perhaps because she really does have a shot at the deal after all and is about to surprise everyone.

And that's where working in tandem kicks in. Beautifully.