Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Working as a Minority

Most of the time I work with men. At the office. With clients. More than 90% of people I interact with for work are men. The last two weeks were an exception.

I've been working non-stop since last week Monday until this week Friday, including the weekend due to some client-related-events. The best part about it was for once, I worked closely with the fairer gender. It is rather different than interacting with the guys. Then again, it's just my luck,non-Indonesians I work with care more about people they work with.

We talked about in our line of job, most of the time, we are the minority. How when we have to travel we dont venture out on our own as much as our male counterpart because of security reason, or keeping up the image. How sometimes the guys are pretty sexist in this country and would do/say something that could be seen as sexual harassment abroad. How I make sure that I cover up and on my best behavior when I have to meet clients who are mostly foreigner at their hotels. 

I'm very aware how people judge young local ladies with an elderly (foreigner) gent. I'm also aware, that sometimes, due to my gender people are opening up doors. I managed to get a vital information from a Director General at one of our ministries just by conversing with him for almost 1.5 hours. Others confided about policies and other officials, which comes handy for my reference. I'm also aware that most would think that I'd be dispensing money to do my job of which I've never done. 

That being said, I've noticed I have better synergy with foreigners than with fellow Indonesian females. Perhaps because the females Indonesian counterparts I worked with are mostly civil servants. Some of them have the tendency of making things more complicated. I do wish that more female supports other female. However, most often I've experienced and heard that quite often female undermines other female, which is rather sad considering we are in minority. 


colson said...

It's pretty fatiguing always to have to be conscious that one is being publicly judged by exclusively intricate - simultaneously prudish and sexist- codes. Reading your post it's clear Kartini doesn't suffice any more. It's high time for 'tender gender solidarity' and a female mass movement to achieve at least the Indonesian equivalent of what's called over here the 'tweede feministische golf" ( the second feminist wave).

(So perhaps I - 74 y/o- did cause her embarrassment when the two of us, my 34 y/o daughter in law and I - had a drink in public?)

TA said...

it's not embarrassment, but I've been in situation when people giving me dirty look when I was with my own grandfather in a hotel lift and when I had lunch with my cousin's husband. People just assume. So, I try my best not to give out certain impression.