The average African woman may see nothing wrong in serving her boss coffee for the following reasons:
- It is her job.
- She feels her job might be threatened if she refuses to.
- She feels it is part of a woman’s skills.
Asking a woman who was not employed to make coffee, to perform a task that adds no form of value to her life or future aspiration purely based on her gender is sexist. Sherly Sandberg calls it “office house work”, and it’s an apt term. Sometimes, it often assumed that women should be able to carry out domestic functions anywhere including the work place. This is a wrong assumption that must be corrected.
In a time and age where women and young girls are being encouraged to seat at the table, take up leadership positions, acquire life skills, it is frightening that some people deem it fit for women to perform domestic duties at work.
Employers should be made to understand that the non-availability of jobs in most African countries, does not mean graduates should be made to perform menial jobs. In similar vein, women should not be made to perform domestic duties such as making coffee, getting lunch or doing the dishes for her boss if it is not in her employment contract.
Saying no to office housework, does not make you rude, it goes to say you know what you want and where you are going. Today’s world is moving at a fast pace who wants to waste time making coffee when you can be learning useful skills?
We go to school, face a lot of aggressiveness from obnoxious professors and teaching staff, graduate, go on to post graduate school where most of the lecturers wonder what they are doing in post graduate school, while holding part time jobs and you ask us to make coffee? Am sorry we can’t make your coffee; get a coffee maker.
As much as addressing sexism at work deserves cautiousness, let’s not be afraid to make our stand known.
While it is tricky to state your stand, when you are asked to perform an office housework, be calm and polite in responding. Kindly inform your boss why you took up the job and as much as you recognize coffee is important to his/her ability to function, it is not your area of expertise and it adds no value to you or the work you were employed to carry out.
Subtle sexism at work in form of jokes and comments, pet names like “sweetheart,” and comments about their appearances should not be accommodated by women in the work place, for fear of being seen as humorless or uncooperative.
We entered the workforce to gain more experience so we can take up leadership positions and make a change, not to perfect our coffee making skills.
Based on a real life experience.
I am Adebisi Adewusi, speech writer, political scientist and photographer. I believe women are constantly being seen as “women” when we are much more than that. I am committed to ensuring women know they can and should seat at the table.