To bake, or not to bake?

27 Jan

by Capitol Jill

Inspired by Betty’s opus on gender politics in the office, I thought of another example of the gender issues and office relationships, something that comes up in my office at least once a month, and which I have had several conversations about.

Baking.

Or really, is it OK to bake for your colleagues?

This might seem like a really easy question on the surface. No one is going to say that baking for others is a bad thing, certainly. But does it play into the idea that women are better at cooking? That women should be responsible for making cakes and brownies for birthdays, while men are not expected to help at all? Will I be looked down upon if I bring in a cake? Will I blow my shot at the corner office if I make muffins?

These are real concerns.

Personally, I love baking for my friends, because I like to make other people happy, and I enjoy baking. The benefit of taking these things to work is to make your coworkers happy, and also to get the treats out of your house before you eat them all yourself at 2 AM in your pajamas…

Just me?

I had a conversation with one of my female coworkers about a year ago on this topic. Shes excellent at networking and work-related advice, so I really took what she said to heart. I asked her about the idea that baking, or in general being womanly or mothering, will ruin your chances at the “corner office”. (Theres a book about this, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Can’t say I’ve read it, but we’ve all heard about it, right?)

Her question to me was, “what do you get out of it? If it doesn’t benefit you, but could possibly hurt, then whats the point?” Initially this struck me as very self-serving, but I kind of understand what she means. Bringing in sweets that I’ve made just reinforces some gender stereotypes, which I have since seen played out in my office over and over again.

Our office celebrate birthdays, and usually one of the women (often on the all-female admin staff, but that’s another story) bring in goods they have made for the birthday person and everyone to enjoy. Its almost expected — i think that most people in the office have never even helped to plan one of these parties, and certainly not the men. They just assume that someone will bake something, and I honestly can think of only one instance in which a man baked something.

*On a side note, I do find it SUPER SEXY when a man can cook. just sayin’*

Will I get looked down on as a woman, as someone who should work in admin,  and not handle meaningful legislation?

It might be subtle, but I do see that the women who routinely bake get pigeonholed into certain roles and therefore certain careers. I don’t want that.
So I don’t bake for my office. Ever. Is this the right way to handle the situation? I’m honestly not sure, but in a male-dominated field, I can’t concede any territory.

But I do miss baking.

How about you, friends? Do you bake for coworkers? Am I reading way too much into this? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO,

Capitol Jill

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