As a 21-year-old woman in college, there is one trend that I've seen since my first year here: people have trouble understanding that women can separate their emotional feelings from their professional ones.
When you go to a public college, you'll often be surrounded by the opposite gender, and even get involved with someone on some type of personal level and then realize they are also in your class, your organization, or even a part of your workplace. But one too many times I've heard the story of how a woman is disregarded because of the man she slept with, dated, or even rejected. She cannot make her own decisions because of her feelings.
While women are capable of separating the personal and the professional, here are 10 things that women in professional settings hear way too often:
1. "Are you sure you can work with him? I mean, he is your boyfriend.
Whether he's your boyfriend, you hook up, or even worse- you rejected him, people always question if you should take on a role because he's also involved. How crazy is this? It's like saying "hey, just give up all your goals because there's that guy. Just let him be the only successful one and walk away so you don't make things awkward." If nothing has to stand in the way of a man's success, nothing should stand in the way of a woman's. And if a guy feels awkward, it's on him to figure it out. A woman is not defined by the man she spends her time with.
2. "You only feel like that because of your history."
A lot of people do not believe that women can separate how they feel about someone in a work setting compared to a personal setting. But, as professionals, women have the capacity to evaluate the other gender as a professional as well, whether they have a past with them or not. A woman shouldn't be shut down because they have a negative opinion about a man in a professional space, even if they have a negative situation with them outside of that space as well. Otherwise, she would be forced to lie and say he's doing great when he isn't and be taken seriously, or tell the truth and be told they have no justification. It's a lose-lose situation, and honestly, just a little dumb.
3. "You're too pretty to be taken seriously."
This happens to women more often than believed. And sometimes even by other women. It shouldn't be about what you look like, but rather what your work ethic looks like. This is like living your whole like struggling to move up in the world because you were given good genes. Wake up call: blonde isn't stupid, large breasts do not make you a bimbo, and being considered average or ugly should not be a work qualification.
4. "It's just that he likes you, so you need to consider that in your decisions."
No, a woman doesn't. It's not her issue that someone has feelings for her. Her only focus is doing her best and working her hardest. It's not her job to give up a promotion, side-step an opportunity, or only hang out with other women because of a man's feelings for her.
5. "This could possibly break you up. Are you sure you want to do it?"
If a relationship falls apart because of a work setting, then maybe it wasn't meant to be. A woman should never have to put herself second because of her relationship with a man. And if the man is really concerned, then he should think about stepping down.
6. "Just listen to him. Boys know more about these kinds of things."
What? You're telling me that a man and woman with the exact same education, training, or experiences are not the same because this is usually a boy's thing? Who even decided what things men know more about? Don't discount what a woman knows until it's proven that the man knows more.
7. "Just let me handle it."
Said every boy ever. If a woman is doing something that seems like a man should be doing, or looks like she is struggling, a man will walk up and hit you with that line—regardless of if you can actually handle it or not.
8. "It's a boy thing, you don't want to participate."
At least let a woman decide for herself if she wants to participate. In a professional setting, what is even a "boy thing," if not sexist?
9. "Just sleep with him, and maybe you'll finally be noticed and get what you want."
A tale as old as time. There are so many ways to get noticed, like doing your job, working hard, an impressing your boss with your work. A woman should never be pressured into or feel like she has to sleep with someone to feel like she can compete with her coworkers. And too often, it's expected that she will, and those men don't belong in the workplace.
10. "There's no way you can just be friends with him."
She definitely can, and she definitely will. If men can hang out with female coworkers and not be judged, women should be able to be around male coworkers and not be accused of falling for them or not being able to keep a professional relationship. Because, once again, women are as capable as men and any other person of keeping the personal and professional separate.