I read an interesting column in the New York Times yesterday by FOF Linda Alvarado, President and CEO of Alvarado Construction in Austin, TX, which has offices in five states and builds projects across the United States and Latin America. Once, when she arrived at a client meeting with her team, an architect asked her if she’d check in the hall to see if the coffee had arrived. He assumed she was the secretary. Her employees were shocked, but she wasn’t offended and she went to check on the coffee. When everyone introduced themselves around the table a few minutes later, the architect “nearly died,” Linda wrote.
When her son was in kindergarten, Linda spoke at career day along with a male nurse who had a child in the class. “Afterward, he and I discussed our parallel experiences in the work world. The teacher asked my son, ‘When you grow up, do you want to be a contractor like your mother and build sports facilities and schools.’ My son said, with disdain, ‘No, that’s women’s work,'”
Linda’s column made me think about stereotypes, and although society has come a long way, we have a long way to go. Answer the following five questions without thinking too hard, then think hard about your answers if you answered yes to questions 1 and 2, no to questions 3 and 4, and
no to question 5.
1. If you learned a male colleague loved to knit, would you assume he was gay?
2. If a female acquaintance never married and had a best girlfriend she hung out with all the time, would you assume they were gay?
3. Do you think it’s okay for a man to give up his job to stay home and raise his children?
4. Do you think it’s okay to buy a doll for a two-year-old boy?
5. If your daughter-in-law was a plumber, would you be proud to tell your friends?