With the new ways of working, many of us are being thrust into the unknowns of working from home. Many are relying on using virtual conferencing tools such as WebEx, Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. This is much different than hopping into an in-person conference room where everyone can see everyone, their body language, and eye contact. However, this depends on if you decide to be brave and use your dreaded webcam.
In my last role and in many other roles I’ve been in, I haven’t used my webcam for virtual meetings very often as I’ve relied on only using the audio. I usually have a picture in the virtual conferencing platform so people can see what I look like (on a very good hair day of course).
I really don’t know what the fear is for me or for other people to use a webcam. People can see me on a camera through my computer or phone?! Omg! Maybe I should wear something other than pajamas, wear makeup, or look somewhat presentable!
It seemed like some sort of gradual shift that I apparently missed the boat on. More and more people are using their webcams in meetings, but it’s usually optional due to a company’s network/bandwidth and the individual. I am forcing myself to come out of the shadows and to use my webcam in 1 on 1 meetings and am pushing myself to do it more in the future.
The one thing I noticed the most in virtual meetings, particularly larger meetings is the demographic of who uses their webcam. I noticed that men tend to be much more likely to use their webcams than women. Now this could have been that particular company where this occurred, but my guess is that it’s not.
Women seemed much less likely to use their webcams. I think I saw one woman in all of the bigger meetings use her webcam and she was the host of the meeting and a director-level employee. My point is not to bash on men here, but to point out how women are still choosing to be unseen, play it small, and of course have difficulty with asserting themselves in these big meetings.
Do women fear using their webcams because they don’t have their makeup done or don’t “look professional” enough? Are they afraid of being impolite? What is stopping us from taking up the space? From making ourselves seen and known?
I want to encourage myself and all the ladies out there to be seen, be known, and to not play it small. I encourage you to use your webcam in meetings, but for the love of God, please wield this power knowing that people can see when you aren’t wearing pants or if you decide to use the bathroom in the middle of a meeting. We have all seen those horror stories on YouTube, don’t be the next one!
This post was previously published on Equality Includes You and is republished here with permission from the author.
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