Friday, February 10, 2012

The intersectional workplace.

Sorry for the lack of posts -- I started an internship in Amsterdam, with an organisation that works to get children to be in charge of their own savings. In short, I'm really tired from the commuting (it's like high school all over again!) but I'm happy to report that fatigue does not dampen my obsession for seeing gender in everything.

When I read the Employee Manual given to me on the first day of work, there was one clause that caught my eye:
"As this is mostly a white male workplace, there will be issues of ego. This will have to be kept in check." (paraphrased with much liberty).
But I looked around and the office looked quite diverse: about 50-50 women and men, representatives from Western and Eastern Europe, North and South(east) Asia, and the Middle East. And the director of this NGO is a woman -- but not a white one at that.

Not my office

This false, idealistic, feeling of satisfaction at seeing such a gender- and ethnicity-balanced workplace was quickly replaced with a growing sense of invisibility. There was, once afternoon, a visit by two high-profile French men who work in well-known international organisations. Three of the white guys (I know, I'm terrible for lumping them together so to be specific, two Europeans and one Canadian) were busily making slides while two of us women ended up setting the table with plates of fruit and cookies. Haha.

Later, I found out that the paid staff were indeed practically all the white men, while almost all the women were interns -- including me. So we got to do the sai kang work of setting the table for lunch and clearing up, while these fabulously intellectual and enviably paid guys were hard at work making slides. I kid, these guys are actually really nice people. :)

Intuitive MS Powerpoint 2007, anyone?

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