Out of Workplace

My workplace is one predominately staffed by women. Out of about 20 total employees, I am one of only three men who are currently employed. And of the three of us, I am the only one who is straight – my other two male compatriots are both openly queer. As a result, the workplace environment is an open and inclusive one, a fact which I greatly appreciate, and which I wish could be replicated across every discipline. And although I have never once felt ostracized or been made uncomfortable by my coworkers, being the “odd one out,” in this situation has given me insight into an entirely different set of workplace dynamics.

Even with the best intentions, my presence nevertheless carries the weight of a hundred years of patriarchal rule, and I can recall many occasions where I stumbled upon a conversation that went quickly quiet. I have no intent to eavesdrop, of course, but the almost unconscious response that my presence triggers has enlightened me into the reality of a heavily-female workplace environment, and how I can become an unwelcome intrusion without meaning to. Though I have always made it a point to be as inclusive as possible wherever I go, I have rarely had to confront the fact that sometimes, even the most well-intentioned actions can be perceived differently.