Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Business Travel

I am on business travel this week, at a conference.  Overall, I am having a lot of fun.  But there are moments that are not fun, especially for a woman business traveler in a male-dominated field.  Over the past four days, I have had the following experiences:

  • My supervisor's supervisor (hereafter referred to as Boss) and I were traveling on the same flights.  Upon boarding the plane, I saw Boss was already on, so I made a comment to him about the legroom of his seat on the plane.  His row-mate volunteered to trade seats with me in exchange for payment so I could sit next to Boss.  I suggested he take it up with Boss, since he is richer than I am. The guy discounted monetary wealth as unimportant and waxed rhapsodic about happiness and the quality of life.  At that point his words combined with the creepy vibes I'd been getting from him made me realize what type of payment he was thinking of, so I declined and disengaged from the conversation.  My suspicions about his motives were confirmed when Boss told me the guy had invited us to join him in the airport lounge.  (Hint: he was not interested in Boss's company.)
  • Upon checking in at the hotel, I was asked if Boss and I were together.  No, we are not.  Also, he has kids who are my age.
  • At a social event, I was mistaken for being married to another one of my colleagues.  At least this person realized that I worked in the same place as my would-be spouse.
  • Conference attendees get free breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  This morning, I was charged for my breakfast, because I was obviously the spouse of one of the men I was eating with.
These are small slights, but they all add up to make business travel a lot less enjoyable for me than it is for my male colleagues.


Anonymous said...


As a 50 year old white male, I am clearly qualified to talk to this...ok, perhaps not. But after first offering sympathy for this ugliness, being the idiot optimist, I'll offer this. They have self-identified, and you can avoid wasting any time on them. Granted, not useful for people who may have control over your career.

But as a 50-ish wasp, I have wasted far too much time on such people since I don't readily know of this sort of thing. So I meet someone, we hit it off, etc then I find out he's a racist misogynist jerk, and have to "break it off". Usually I can't do it subtly, and now others who don't (yet) know of this side of the person think its me. This has happened more than once. (Feeling sorry for me yet?:)

Long ago I took to wearing an earring, as my only outward means of weeding out those who would judge me for having a piece of metal (a tasteful unobtrusive hoop:) attached to me head. Heck, it worked. But admittedly also at times hurt to be ostracized from some groups. And other times it had the reverse effect of some people thinking I was “interesting” only to be later disappointed. Of course all I had to do was remove it and I'm "acceptable" again. I did finally remove it when I saw BMOC frat boys wearing them.

Well, rambling over. As Steve Earle said, “they” have always been there. It sucks when “they” have any sort of “power” over us. But change comes slowly, and one of our life challenges is that “they” will always be there.


Rebecca said...

You are right, of course, Rico, but sheesh can a woman not travel in peace?!?! ;)

Anonymous said...

nice post