The Weight of Womanhood

In honor of Women’s History month, we’re going to get real about the all too familiar weight of navigating the world in a female body and validate the women who are tired of carrying it. We’ve been conditioned to take on more than our fair share of labor and often let ourselves be overburdened instead of asking for support, especially as women of color. It’s often called hyper-independence in romantic relationships but when it follows us into the workplace, it’s happily accepted. 

Even in diverse workplaces where we’re not dealing with being called “sweetheart” or “girl” and nobody is doubting your ability to do your job because you’re female, we’re reluctant to ask for help, or tell someone something is not our job. We navigate in survival mode. Female colleagues are apprehensive about delegating tasks, even to their subordinates, don’t want to ask their male counterparts for help on projects and even with other women, they’re hesitant to offload any work on them. 

Women are often expected to be capable of handling everything on their own, whether it is managing a household or running a business. Society has created an expectation that women are born multi-taskers who can balance family, work, social engagements and personal life without a hitch. With such intense pressure to “do it all,” it’s easy to see why we feel the need to excel in all areas of life – without any help. 

Harvard Business Review did a study on the ways in which women are “forced” to act in order to adapt to working in corporate environments – women of color especially. They found these women had a need to be perfect and to sacrifice to get ahead. There was a distinct recurring theme of these women taking on more than they should and almost being encouraged in self-sabotage. Knowing they were seen as less competent by their male, and even female, counterparts does nothing to disprove the notion they already had that they have to do it all alone. 

The culture of valuing women who can “do it all” perpetuates the ideal that women are not worthy just being themselves, and that their worth is only tied to the work they do, the families they raise, and the social obligations they uphold. We become experts in neglecting ourselves because we are too busy taking care of others; we feel that asking for help will make us seem weak or less capable, or we feel guilty for delegating tasks to others. 

Women need to recognize the value of asking for assistance. The idea of us being able to handle everything on our own is a damaging ideology that perpetuates a culture in which women are constantly working, feeling inadequate, and devalued. It is vital to prioritize self-preservation and relinquish unnecessary burdens and focus our energy on the areas that matter the most. This need to do everything on our own is a noose around our own necks.

This post was written by Carmen Iman, Communications Advisor at NEOO Partners.

NEOO Partners Inc. is a commercial real estate and urban planning firm based in St. Paul. They believe in developing generative results in the community while addressing the pressing challenges facing urban-built environments. NEOO Partners Inc. believe people have intrinsic value simply because they exist. All of their work comes back to people through the value we create and how we tie the outcomes of our actions back to the people we are working to serve. NEOO Parners Inc.’s approach delivers thoughtful, human-centered solutions for clients, and cultivates sustainable relationships in the community.

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