I’m probably the last person who’s got any right to claim discrimination in the workplace let alone play a race card.
Except for the fact that I’m a white, educated, reasonably successful and otherwise demographically average middle aged male in a company with a predominantly female, well educated, culturally mixed but apparently anti-male culture.
My nature is generally relaxed, friendly but somewhat reserved in that I don’t get into people’s grills about their personal life or issues which have nothing to do with why we’re gathered five days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day in one place.
I can chit chat on a friendly basis about weekend plans, vacation ideas, weather, surface family stuff as far as how many kids and how old and amusing related anecdotes, but that’s it. I don’t complain about ex-spouses, current spouses, in-laws, out-laws, who I’m dating or anything that is remotely personal and private.
I don’t pop my head into offices while people are working to interrupt their day with my idle thoughts or office gossip. I don’t gather gossip, nor to I repeat it when it’s shared with me. I simply ignore it. Same with office politics. Who said/did what to whom is of no interest to me unless it’s got to do with my projects and requires some kind of action/response from me.
I give advice when I’m asked. I share information or my (informed) opinion when I think it contributes positively to a discussion at hand. When I have nothing of value to add I find it best to say nothing.
Yet, somehow this behaviour, which has worked well for me in other corporate cultures is really playing against me in this particular organization.
In being considered for a senior level position, one of the women who squarely fits into the category of people I described above, basically accused me of being anti-social and too quiet. Not a “team player” is the term I believe she used.
It seems to me that in order to appear a team player, I must join the customary hand wringing, emotional outbursts, sweet talking, feeling sharing, group think koom-bah-ya mentality that is pervasive at this company.
I don’t mean to sound like a misogynist. I don’t believe for a second that all women in a professional carreer setting are like this particular group. I’ve had the pleasure to work with some very sharp minded and impressive women in both senior and junior level positions. But this bunch here… I just don’t get.
They resent my expert opinion on IT topics. Use “business requirement” as a club to explain every suspect decision that I gingerly raise as a potential issue. Their entire self worth seems to be wrapped up in their stature and standing in this company. Any opinion contrary to popular thought is seen as, and I quote, a “Very Strong Statement”, which requires explaining and justification. Any attempt to do so is dismissed as an opinion based on a lack of knowledge of the “corporate business culture”.
Now, lest anyone assume that I’m imagining all this; a few men who have worked here longer than I (some of whom have already left) have shared similar observations with me and specifically told be to be aware of the corporate culture I’ve just described. I’m very aware that their warning may have prejudiced me to look for certain traits but I am not easily influenced and tend to disregard these kinds of blanket statements because I find them to be inaccurate most of the time.
So my question is: How do I deal with this kind of situation? Personal experiences and helpful advice would be most appreciated.