While I am on my soapbox this week (and it seems that I am), I must discuss my hatred for what I call “the chick card”. The Chick Card, for me, is defined as the act a woman falls into where she acts cute, coy, helpless, unintelligent, and naive in order to get what she wants/needs.
I see woman at work play this card. And, they use it when they don’t want to do something. Since I’m in IT, I see women use the “chick card” with my male coworkers – a LOT. Since many of my male coworkers are nice guys who their mom’s raised well, they fall for it.
Let me give an example that happened just this morning. An executive administrative assistant insisted that my highly paid network engineer be here to start a video conference for the president of the company. I have personally seen this executive admin start video conferences before without even flinching. But, I think, she just didn’t want to do it. My network engineer has shown her this process about 20 times. He has had her write down the procedure the last 7 times. Each time, she “forgets”…..and plays the “chick card” on him. So, he caves.
What is worse is the fact he knows he is having the card played on him, but, as I mentioned above, his mom raised him to be a gentleman – so he would never call her on it.
Another example: the cute blond Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) auditor from a high paid financial auditing firm. She used to play dumb to get the guys to reveal our deficiencies. She was good at it, very good at it. But she stopped when I called her on it one day. She was going through her act and forgot that I was sitting in the cubicle next door. I got her to change her demeanor right in front of the guy who got suckered into it which made his jaw drop. And, that was the last year they sent her to us. I guess she lost her edge over us, the clients.
I guess what astounds me most about the “Chick Card” is how far it sets women back. Women are in all areas of business, government, politics, etc proving they can be on par with men. Yet, when I see them do this, I watch all of those years of progress slip away as the traditional roles are back in play. The big strong man helping the helpless but cute woman is all good as a plot for a poorly written romance novel – but doesn’t fit well into real life especially if, in real life, you are trying to get some creditability and respect from male peers.
But, maybe I hate this because I’ve seen it backfire on women. I had a coworker who used to play the “Chick Card” with coworkers, and they stopped listening to what she had to say when she was trying to contribute. I would have to step in as translator between her and the male coworkers. While I was annoyed by the fact the men would not listen to her anymore, I was more annoyed she didn’t see how she got herself there. Ultimately, she did figure it out – and realized she had damaged her internal reputation to the point she needed to start over at another company. I kept in touch with her for years and know she never made that mistake again.
Oh, and that executive admin who uses the card quite frequently – the President of the company who she supports won’t listen to her anymore. If something cannot be done, we have to go personally tell him that. Sending the message to him through her will not work because he doesn’t believe her. Guess he doesn’t trust she is truly competent since she is always running to us.
Maybe I’m missing an advantage in playing this card. Am I?