When some people find out that I’m the only male employee in the office, their reaction is something like, “That must be tough.” The people who ask this question always share the same trait, they’re all older than me. I was born near the end of 1984. I’m old enough to have seen both sides of the workplace paradigm but young enough to have no problem coming out on the side of equality. Besides the general changing attitude of society, my family played and still plays a big part in shaping my views. I was raised by a strong-willed mother with her own strong-willed mother, my father doesn’t have one chauvinistic bone in his body, my sister has been deployed to Afghanistan, and my wife and I like to joke that we each have one leg in the family pair of pants. My rather rare place in history and society allows me to recognize why some people would have a problem being the only male in an office while knowing and articulating exactly why I don’t have any sort of problem with it. I know women are equally as capable as men. I’ve never seen evidence to the contrary.
The office itself helps me along my chosen path of equal standing. My co-workers are all very capable and independent as anyone that has worked with them can attest. Beyond the fantastic jobs they already do in their respective positions, they’ve never asked me for help with any typical damsel in distress problems just because I’m the only guy. I’ve never had to open a stuck jar, grab something from a high shelf, or carry a heavy box down the stairs without them trying it themselves. They never say, “You’re just a guy, you wouldn’t understand” and exclude me from conversation. I hear it all. They don’t even like to have the door held for them. This is something that took a little getting used to as I was raised, admittedly quite hypocritically to what I’ve been writing, to be a “proper gentlemen”. They don’t treat me like the only male so I don’t have to think of myself as the only male.
I come to work everyday knowing that the people in the office are going to be welcoming, capable, and professional. I don’t have to worry about being the white knight riding in to save the day, not that I would be able to be just by virtue of my gender. They’re my co-workers. No negative gender stereotypes just, my co-workers. My experiences so far at Hayes Martin make it very easy to continue believing what I know is right. It doesn’t matter what people have between their legs. It matters what’s in their heart and between their ears. If I didn’t already feel this way, my co-workers would make it very easy to quickly, and probably forcefully, get used to it.
Tom Cushard, Production Manager