It’s a bit cliche’, admittedly, to blame my career behavior on being female. But after working in large department made up of both sexes and one almost exclusively female, I feel like I have anecdotal evidence to back me up. In the all-female workplace, little things matter. Saying hello every time you pass someone in the hall, for instance. Bringing in treats and cards at the holidays to distribute or put out at the holiday potluck. Polite little extraneous emails asking about people’s babies and surgeries and family and travel plans.
In the male and female department, while those niceties were appreciated, they weren’t expected. There were no “mean girls” waiting to socially ostracize the woman who ate lunch in her office instead of in the conference room with everyone else. Sending to-the-point email was prized, no matter how blunt it needed to be.
But, now I’m a weird hybrid. In the new area where my office is located, it is all women, most over 45. And my department is across the lobby, filled with males and females. The balance is a little precarious. Do I underprove myself in my department by being sugar sweet in my new work area? Do I risk peeving the ladies over here by dashing out as usual without stopping for a five minute chat about where I’m going and why?
What brought all of this to my attention is my reaction to the news yesterday that my new virtual job is a reality. And my “nice girl” brain’s first response? “Oh no! My boss is going to be so disappointed. She really needs me on the projects I work on now. And I’m going to making so much work for other people by leaving.” Yes, I girled out. Competely. In fact, a male friend of mine laughed when I mentioned those thoughts. “It’s your career. This isn’t about people’s feelings. It’s about what’s best for your career.”
And I know he’s right. I’m delighted that my current boss gave me a good reference and told them I would make a great work-from-home virtual employee. I thrilled that I will have to go to New Orleans sometime in January or February for orientation at the new office. I’m even looking forward to being in Cleveland all next week for a preliminary conference to get my new job priorities in order. But that nice girl still feels a little bad about leaving people here in the lurch, even if I have a month to pass on my files and knowledge to whoever my boss delegates as my replacement.
I suppose I can always send them a fruit basket. Or maybe just some Mardi Gras beads from the next time I have to visit my actual boss in the actual office. Surely that will make them feel better, right?