Work place shenanigans

scandal-season-4

Scandal S4 E16

The first season took me a while to get my head around but I have loved Scandal from the very beginning. As well as being written by Shonda Rhimes (fast becoming one of my favourite writers) Scandal also boasts an awesome soulful soundtrack accompanying each episode and it only gets better with each season! For any of you who are yet to watch it, Scandal is generally based on the goings on at the White House in the US.  The lead character is Olvia pope played by Kerry Washington. Olivia is Washington’s number 1 ‘fixer’ fixing the problems of Washington’s most rich and powerful. Many of the story lines are are based on all things politics and the ‘goings on’ behind the doors of the most powerful house in the world.

One of the factors that keeps bringing me back to it each season, is that the leading character is a black female. In the past it wasn’t common to see entertainment shows with a strong, confident, intelligent female lead (changes are definitely more noticeable in recent years) As is the case with movies, many TV shows would show the female leads living lives that revolved around making frequent shopping trips and going on dates. Scandal is the total opposite, it showcases several strong female characters amongst the usual male authoritative figures.

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Episode 16 features Abby the White House press secretary writing her resignation letter. Abby’s Boyfriend seeing her write the letter tries to tell her his (pervy past acts being revealed to the media & public) won’t have any effect on her or her job. She responds by stomping over to him and trying to explain to him that just the fact the she was ‘his girlfriend’ would affect her negatively, although the dirty laundry was his.

“I stand on the most powerful podium in the world, but a story about me ain’t a story unless they can report on the fact that I am the girlfriend of D.C. fixer Leo Bergen.” —Abby Whelan

The above quote really hit me and stood out the most throughout the whole episode. Just the other week an incident took place at work and sent me into one of those deep funks. No not the usual ‘post grad life struggles’ funks but a deeper one. Leading me to really stop and contemplate my position at work and the environment I’m working in. I realised that the majority of my colleagues were men and my only other female colleague had gone away on holiday for a couple of weeks.

I’m coming up to 8 months of working in my current work place. I work as a part time PA for a guy who owns 2 small businesses. One of which is a boutique (okay not exactly a boutique but of some sorts) The said incident involved a lost order, this order I realised hadn’t come in so I informed my boss. In response he told me that he would have to contact our delivery guys’s manager. Hearing this I became worried for the guys, I didn’t want to land them into any trouble and suggested we somehow look into this and find out what had gone on without letting their manager find out. Little did I know that it would take them less than 2 mins to place the blame on me.

Gosh had I not learnt anything in life? It’s a ruthless world, where people are out to save their own necks and pass the buck whenever they can. By the end of the first week of my female colleagues absence, I was already frustrated having had to work with an all male team. Having to constantly repeat orders and shouting to be heard. So Ray (not his real name) my boss rang the boys’s manager and was told by him that it “must be your girl’s fault. I trust my guys they’ve been with me for a long time, speak to your girl she’s probably made a mistake with the logging”

Yes the missing order was an expensive one and the very fact that it was missing was stressful. But what really wound me up and upset me, was the fact I was being undermined. The boy’s manager knew my name but throughout his conversations during this incident he kept referring to me as ‘your girl‘ to my boss. I felt I was being undermined and all the work I had ever done for the business was all being overlooked. After finishing uni and following my 2 month trip to Pakistan I returned to London jobless and lost. I spent a couple of months wallowing in self pity in between the endless (fruitless) job applications. As well as having to hear my parents and relatives endless questions/suggestions/unwanted comments. That is until I came across Ray’s gumtree ad for a social media intern and well the rest is history!

For the past 7 months I’ve been working in that little ‘Posh’ patch of North London, I think I’ve adapted to the work environment well. I’ve grown in confidence immensely. I deal with all PA admin tasks in addition to serving customers and running the ’boutique’ single handedly. So here I was 7 months on, being blamed solely for the missing order. It was probably the most emotional night I’ve had since I’ve started working there. Of course the boys found the order they had misplaced. So I was off the hook but in that moment I felt that as a woman regardless of my academic achievements or any other credentials, in some way I was always going to be undermined. I felt I was having to prove my worth constantly. Almost as if to say ‘Yes I’m a woman but I’m capable of doing a great job perhaps even better than you’re doing!’

There was another story about an accountant woman Ray told me about but hey that’s another story for another day! It’s regularly pointed out in headlines and discussions many women are still underpaid for doing the same job as men. I believe its more to do with attitudes, we’re still fighting to change attitudes. As for me, no one day is ever the same at work and I very much enjoy working there (although I’m still on the job search, so hit me with them People!) One of the boys ‘blue eyes’ still continues to shamelessly flirt although he still hasn’t come up with the promised apology gift of ice cream!

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