Sometimes when we’re the “first” or “only” in a role or situation, there are a lot of expectations that are thrust upon us.
When we are working in male-dominated fields, this might look like an expectation that we are tough. That we’ll suck it up and hide our emotions. That we will roll with whatever the current modus operandi is even if it’s detrimental to our well-being.
Or maybe it looks like an expectation that we’ll be what’s stereotypically thought of as feminine. That we won’t want to get our hands dirty. That we’ll be too sensitive to survive in a field position. That we need to be apologized to when someone curses in front of us.
No matter which side you feel the pressure from, these expectations may cause us to perform gender at work.
This is exhausting.
Performative masculinity is when we try to put on a mask of a tough guy. It precludes and excuses us from doing the work of developing our emotional intelligence.
Performative femininity reinforces societal expectations and norms of traditional gender stereotypes.
So what do we do? We can refuse to perform gender at work. (I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be feminine or masculine, but that we don’t have to put on a show. We can just show up with the full spectrum of traits that make us uniquely who we are.)
This means taking off the mask. It’s going to be uncomfortable at first, but it’ll be real.
Other people may bristle that you’re no longer meeting their expectations of what you should be.
Let them be uncomfortable.
Be yourself, in all your glory.