Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects › Forums › GENERAL DISCUSSION › Women working in a male-dominated industry
- This topic has 1 reply, 27 voices, and was last updated 11 years, 10 months ago by Jay Smith.
April 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm #163860Rob HalpernParticipant
Russell, you are quoting my post but I have no idea what you are trying to say.
To clarify my point: we live in a sexist, racist, homophobic society and culture. It remains all over pop culture, common conversation, the media and the politicians. No one is completely cured of it, we all swim in the same polluted sea taking in the water. It’s nice to think that this is simply a matter of “those jerks,” but we are all those jerks. Can’t get away from it. Every “liberated” woman with her female-supporting friends still can see among them and in herself sexist backward attitudes and behavior. Some of the most homophobic people are in fact gay. The most politicized of women often hold other women in contempt. Its easy to deal with bigots because they are so obvious. Its the people who insist that they are pure and free of the taint that can really hurt you, because when they degrade you, you didn’t see it coming. I do not trust people who insist to me that they have no sexism or racism or homophobia.
So my point: you cannot simply switch jobs to avoid bigotry. You must decide how you are going to live in it. Because you are going to live in it. You can fight it or try to “pass” but leaving is not an option. You can try to get work in a more progressive firm that only takes progressive clients, but you still won’t get away from it.
This is not at all giving free passes to jerks. It is recognizing that bigotry goes very very deep.April 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm #163859AnonymousInactive
Wow! I couldn’t have said it any better.April 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm #163858
No one is standing up for bigots and jerks. What some are saying is that courses of action are limited unless there is clear, provable in a court of law, discrimination going on. It is not about accepting them, but it is about moving on despite them. Yup, it sucks to have to work harder because of it, but any person working harder is stronger and better than anyone who does not. … especially when they wind up on a more level playing field – then it is an advantage.April 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm #163857
Yeah right! You only act tough and bring up your sexuality in here with us since you stay anonymous, but when you had the chance to reveal your true colors at a company function….you ran and hide like the coward I suspected.April 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm #163856
Boy-ohh-boy…there sure are plenty of male chauvinist P.I.G.s in here! No surprise. I love all these men in here with their high testosterone comments about “standing up for yourself”, “discrimination doesn’t exist” or “walking through and over people”. I suggest to you is to put on makeup and disguise yourself as a black man. Take a drive and walk around a predominately, affluent white neighborhoods. You can’t possible know the experiences people go through on a daily basis until you step into their actual shoes. And a majority of you guys aren’t famous or wealthy businessmen either, so you’re not that successful in whatever you are doing now to make comments on empowerment. As for the self proclaimed gay man’s comment, you talk tough but yet refuse to show your true identity at company function? You have no merit discussing about keeping your head above waters. You’re probably a coward in your own shell.
This is off the subject matter but shows you our society has a long way to go. There was a recent segment in ABC’s tv show “What would You Do?” regarding gender and race in how each one is treated during a staged stealing of a bicycle at a park. Do a search and find it on uTube or ABC. A bike was chained to a post at a busy neighborhood park while three different actors with a bolt cutter try to break it loose. Here’s what happened:
The white man – received some curious onlookers and asked what he was doing. About 60% of people passing by questioned his motive, but nobody attempted to call the police. The white guy simply said it was his bike and he lost the key.
The black man – about 90% questioned his motive, while some even called the police. Several people tried to stop him from cutting the chain to free the bike loose. Nobody believed it was his bike!
An attractive female in her mid-20s – Nobody questioned what she was doing! None! Several of the men who walked by even offered to help her cut the chain on the bike! Men trying to help a damsel in distress without ever asking if a crime was being committed or not.April 1, 2011 at 10:25 pm #163855
Wow! You and Andrew are sooo far off base!! Typical white dude mentality! Is it okay for me to write these comments, Sir, My plantation master? Read my post below and wake up!April 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm #163854
Didn’t Maui Bob write something about Martha leaving her post at Harvard? These guys are clueless!April 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm #163853AnonymousInactive
Whoa! Talk about a buzz saw. I’m gonna stop talking smack now. Cara is not taking any prisoners.April 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm #163852AnonymousInactive
You have to come harder than that, but I like your spunk.April 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm #163851
I make long posts and a lot of them, and I don’t blame you for not reading all of them or reading all the way through any of them. If you do, you will find that I do believe that there is discrimination.
If you read Craig’s, you would know that he is an African American … or as he said “black”.
If you do not “go around them” or “through them” or perform at a high enough level that their attitude is not enough to smother you, just what are you going to do? The problem is that discrimination is usually subtle enough that it is not provable in court. When that is the case, what happens if you raise the issue? It is a lightning rod issue and will create major disruption and huge rifts between everyone in contact. There is no question that it is like pulling a knife out when you are threatened – you either get a surrender, or you are going to have fight to use it to take away the threat, or the knife may be taken away from you and used on you. You may be right, but it is a very high risk course of action. If you lose, your done.
I would love to hear any suggested courses of action other than shaking it off and plowing ahead. What do you do when you encounter it? That is what the thread was supposed to be about. So if you don’t shake it off and take it as a challenge to prove them wrong, what do you do?April 2, 2011 at 12:49 am #163850AnonymousInactive
Now that I’ve recovered from that “shock and awe” assault, Cara you sound like a down hardcore urban Symbionese Liberation Army type.
Andrew – I believe she knows I’m black, I think she was making an “Uncle Tom” like reference for my enjoyment.
Although I did get a great deal of entertainment from the way you entered the room. After all the dust settles I still have to ask, what’s your point?
You go Cara. Keep stickin’ it to the Man!April 2, 2011 at 2:19 am #163849
I went to the ultimate authority – my wife (white woman who used to have a jewish last name). I read the OP and asked “what would you do?”.
Her response was that no one takes anyone seriously on a team until they are on the same page as the team. You tell them what they want to hear until they start listening. Then you introduce new ideas. She went on to say that she thought it more likely that BZ may lack some patience as an ambitious person trying to accell in a career and until her experience makes her more intuitive in assessing and adjusting to the people she interacts with, she may expect more respect than she commands. Her advice was simply – “patience”.
I found that to be a different take than mine, but it makes a lot of sense to me.April 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm #163848Leslie B WagleParticipant
Well after reading this prolific thread, just had to quietly chime in…as a semi retired woman LA in the south, there were/ probably still are subtle and not so subtle experiences like this, but I also got doses of it as a planner in city government. We would have a problem and I would make a suggestion nobody would react to. Then a few minutes later (as if no one had even heard me) a male colleague would make the same one and it would suddenly get an enthused amount of support. It wasn’t a toxic group where there was personal animosity going on, but something more cultural. To the objections of any readers that this was just my imagination, I would mention that the whole department one time was sent to a kind of group dynamics workshop over a weekend with climbing rock walls and all kinds of things, and the outside observer experts documented the same thing right after it happened. So the question gets back to what is “overcoming” after all?
I think of the serenity verse about changing what you can, accepting what you cannot, and finding the wisdom to know the difference. Also there’s that line in the gambler song which expresses the idea as “know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run.”
Sometimes it’s bad enough to consider finding another environment. Sometimes you just have to perform your best for the portion of the “doubters” who might be convinced (knowing some won’t let reality affect them). Sometimes you strike out on your own or develop other interests outside the environment to help you de-stress and where personal reinforcement might be more available, in order to last longer in the main field. Obviously all of life’s challenges don’t present immediate simple solutions and the alternatives above might not be equally feasible in all situations or for all challenged ones. In fact hanging on until supervisory people changed worked once for me, but then they were so “passive” they didn’t correct the legacy of the problems created by the former (really awful) predecessors, so there was that, argh.
Last thought: I had a touch of the “lightweight” treatment as a southerner in the midwest and I can imagine there is some towards “Americans” found elsewhere on the globe. The lesser-known will probably always be greeted with some skepticism. And if you escape all those other group tags, there is always the creative vs. business one, or that basic extroversion/introversion one. I’ve read some long really funny discussions between intro and extro’s on the web….two different realms as well. (Not that any of us are “pure” anything but referring to how we hold primary identities).
<ramble off>April 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm #163847Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
Based on your bike theif example, all of the “powerful white men” should be helping her implement her design ideas (cut the chain), no?
Discrimination/prejudice exists in different forms within different industries, except maybe the 9 o’clock news where every race and gender is represented in the cast. If I had to make a sweeping generalization, I’d say that attractive gay men (of any race) have the upper hand in Landscape Architecture. The fact is, gay men are perceived as having a better sense of design. Having lived in Laguna Beach for three years, I can tell you that stereotype is unfounded. I saw more gaudy crapola there than I’ve seen in my entire life. Of course I also saw some great design but I determined that race, age, sex and gender have nothing to do with taste. You either have it or you don’t.April 5, 2011 at 3:09 am #163846Claudia ChalfaParticipant
I have been working in male dominated professions for my entire career, in the deep south, and I am now about to turn 40. Here is what I have to say about this: Absolutely, yes there are some middle aged men (or older) out there who are part of the “good old boy network”. How do we deal with them? Ignore the old system. Be nice to them. Be professional, always, at all costs. Deal with them directly and call them on their behavior when it is unprofessional, but try to do it nicely.
I say this because my cumulative experience over the years has taught me that the vast majority of these guys act out of a lack of knowledge of how they are perceived, or how things have changed. If you gently, kindly point this out to them, they will almost always alter their behavior.
In summary, you get more bees with honey than vinegar. And, a sense of humor helps a lot with these situations. For example, I once went to to a site when I worked as an environmental consultant, and the person I was meeting there was surprised to see me and said “I was expecting a guy”. I replied “Well, I was born this way, what do you want me to do?” with a smile and he laughed, it was fine after that.
Don’t ever lower yourself to the level of someone who is trying to “put you in your place”. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, no one can make you inferior without your consent.
The vast majority of these guys are complete pushovers if you treat them the right way.
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