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Should a woman serve her male colleagues?

Achieving Woman
 Photo; Courtesy

The life of a career woman in the office is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, some eventful, some not. Something happened to me in our office last Monday and though it seemed mundane, my female friends and I found it offensive, I thought it was worth exploring today.

This is what transpired: I was at an 8 o’clock meeting with like ten of my male colleagues which was being chaired the HOD. The CEO, also a man, was in attendance.

Breakfast was right at the corner of the meeting room and it was self-service. As we waited for quorum, the meeting room attendant informed us that we can serve tea. Guess what happened next? Mr. Chairman noticing that people were buying time, pretending to be busy on their phones opened his big mouth and said: “Madam Maureen, would you be kind enough to please serve us tea?”

Good Lord, what did that buffoon just say? How can he make such demeaning and backward request and the CEO is there. The feminist in me was dangerously infuriated. How could this buffoon - who knows I am an openly declared feminist aware of her rights — ask me to serve men tea. Was he testing me?

The only man that has a right to ask me to serve him tea is my husband, not a bunch of chauvinist male colleagues. On what grounds am I serving them tea, I am not their wife and they are not incapacitated.

Did I serve them that tea? You ask. Of course I did. Why? One, the CEO was there and I did not want to come off as rude and uncooperative. And since he did not come to my rescue, it means he was OK with it. Two, the obedient Christian in me, heard that still small voice asking, what would Jesus do?

So I swallowed my pride and started serving but “shingo upande”. As I served them, torrents of volcano were erupting inside me, but I concealed it with an award winning smile. Thank God Mark, a dear colleague who understands my strong feminist stand, and sensed I was not happy with my new role, offered to help.

Later on after the meeting, I went to the HOD and politely expressed my disappointment with him. Unashamedly, he did not see anything wrong. Anyway, I let it go. But I shared the awkward incident with a group of female colleagues over lunch and they were equally offended.

“Shame on them plus that weak CEO. How can Tom request you to serve them tea and Chief is just quiet? I would have walked out in protest,” said no-nonsense Melanie who heads the Marketing Department.

“Those are men who cannot even order their wives to serve them tea. You should raise the issue with HR,” said Steph from IT.

But really, were we just creating a mountain out of a mole hill or we were raising a valid concern? You be the judge.

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