my office wants us to celebrate by wearing pink and blue by gender

A reader writes:

I am a nurse and I enjoy the festivities of Nurses Week, celebrated the second week in May. Until I received this official workplace email, suggesting that “ladies” should wear pink and “men” should wear blue to kick off the week. (See attached graphic.)

This email seems creepy and old fashioned, and I admit that I find the use of “ladies” objectionable.

And this morning I learned of a “fun activity” planned for Nurses Week: a baking contest among the nursing staff. I complained to my nurse manager, “Who thought up this bake-off? Do they think all nurses are women, and we belong in the kitchen?” She just laughed and thought the contest was a grand idea.

My workplace has publicly committed to be more inclusive and more sensitive to the needs of women and the LGTBQ community. Unfortunately, my workplace is also hierarchical, conservative, and very traditional – with plenty of folks who would likely favor these fusty ideas.

For the record, I am female and I love working with my diverse and awesome group of coworkers. For Nurses Week, I would prefer to be recognized for my sage contributions as an educated professional, rather than wearing pink and baking a cake. I think even Florence Nightingale (a free thinker and statistician with revolutionary ideas) would barf. If my manager does not mind these affronts, how far should I take this?

What. The. F.

Wear pink and blue by gender??

And a baking contest when they’re already being so weirdly gendered is … problematic. “Don’t forget your aprons, ladies!”

Since your workplace claims to value inclusivity and wants to be more sensitive to women and LGBTQ people (including, hopefully non-binary people), is there a person or team who heads those efforts? I’d go and talk to them, skipping your boss entirely. Alternately, you could talk to whoever is heading up this celebration of traditional gender roles, but I bet you’ll have more luck with your inclusivity people.

And if you can find some colleagues who are willing to add their voices to yours so it’s not just you being a Lone Cranky Feminist*, all the better.

* I want to sell Lone Cranky Feminist action figures.

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