Something I was told by an older woman when I was just started out has stuck with me ever since and it is the way that women often refer to their husband or partner ‘helping out’ with childcare, (as mentioned in this article) or housework. This woman said to me that by saying that you want your partner to ‘help’ you with something assumes that it is your job when in fact, it is a parents job to raise children, not just a mothers. Similarly, when you are asking your partner to ‘help you’ with the housework, it translates to him as it being ‘your job’ and he is just ‘helping you’ on this occasion. Given our propensity to speak like this, it is not surprising that women then take this underlying internal and external commentary into their workplaces.
I have heard many women ask a male colleague to “help with the minute taking in this meeting”, and then the same women wonder why they end up doing the minutes again and again. Its because the male thinks that he was ‘helping’ you do ‘your’ job! This is one of the internal barriers that many women put up for themselves and then their language just embeds the ‘external barrier’ even more.
Perhaps it stems from an underlying belief by women ( I would say through socialisation) that it is their job to do the housework, the bulk of the childcare and the support work at the office. Whatever the cause, this is one barrier that we can all break ourselves by changing our language and how we feel about it.
See this article I have referred to by Natalie Bickford
- Sheryl Sandberg is more of a feminist crusader than people give her credit for | Jill Filipovic (guardian.co.uk)