This is a comment by sweetsue on the post “Is Technology Dominated by Cavemen?“
No, he is not saying women should make men comfortable; merely recognize that their presence may make men initially uncomfortable like any situation involving individuals and that each side will need time to adjust, so expect some awkwardness. Give each other the benefit of the doubt as to malicious intent and give everyone a chance to adjust. Know what cannot be changed and what can and know the difference and develop a strategy for success.
In technical fields people are initially cool toward one another until they know if the person is technically competent or a wanna be—in short to be accepted it is necessary to prove you are competent and capable. In the technical field skills and competence matter and actions speak louder than words. Fact of the matter, people train people how to treat them by establishing their boundaries and stating their expectations and walking the talk. Especially in tech fields, respect has to be earned. I am in a tech field and for the most part the guys are respectful and refrain from inappropriate talk and it is against the rules to have porn or sexually explicit materials in the work place so that is not an issue.
It may not be fair whatever that is but it is what it is. In any situation the dominant culture sets the rules and the tone; fair or not, like it or not it is a fact. The challenge is find a way to deal with that. Too many times a new person comes in and expect nay demands changes without proving their bona fides or respecting the culture they are stepping into. Demanding changes without having been there or being part of the group long enough to learn the rules of the road is disrespectful.
People push back when they feel threatened or disrespected. How do you get respect? You give it. First to yourself by establishing clear boundaries for what works for you and speaking up for yourself when those boundaries are crossed—calmly and firmly—secondly, expect the same from others and call them on it when they fail to do that. Thirdly model what you expect—find out what respect means to the other person and express that in terms they can relate to so the message is heard. Many times people treat others they way they would like to be treated without knowing what the other persons paradigm is.
Respect may not mean the same thing to every one. One persons show of respect may be seen as disrespectful to the recipient. If you give someone something that they do not relate to or that matters to them then for them the gesture is either meaningless or worse yet insulting. Fact is men and women are different and different things have different meanings because of those differences. When a person is new to a situation do not assume that everyone thinks like you or should think like you. Men and women are equals with differences—as Aretha wisely said “respect find out what respect means to me.” Find out what respect means to the person you are dealing with above and frame your actions and words to align with that and help them do likewise with you.
Photo credit: Flickr / Deputado Bruno Covas