You’re not bitchy. You’re busy. But try to explain that to (some of) your coworkers, who insist on treating a serious expression like a snarl.
This isn’t unique to the workplace, of course. Just ask any woman who’s ever had a stranger on the street tell her to smile.
Why do men want women to smile more? Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher tells USA Today that it comes down to two possibilities: affection or control.
“If you tell someone who is always sullen that they might get along better with their workmates if they smile more…it might be a sign of affection,” Fisher said.
On the other hand, a lot of men view smiling as subservient, weak and vulnerable. In fact, Fisher said, high-testosterone men do not smile much, and overall use less facial expression. So, telling a woman to smile might be pushing her back into a traditional stereotype.
Either way, it stinks. You’re not at work to date, and anyway, it’s hard to swipe left on your creepy coworker IRL without getting HR involved. If control is the issue, that’s just one more way in which unconscious bias keeps women from achieving their professional goals. (In case you’re keeping track, other ways include: a persistent gender pay gap, less opportunity for advancement, and judgment from both male and female coworkers when women try to negotiate salary.)
Show Us Your #RestingBizFace
Bottom line, your job is to do your work, not to make your coworkers feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, you can’t spare the energy to turn that frown upside down, because you’re busy.
— PayScale (@payscale) March 22, 2017
If this feels familiar to you, join us. Send us your #RestingBizFace on Twitter.
And don’t forget to join PayScale on Equal Pay Day, April 4, 2017 at 11 a.m. PDT, for our Facebook live broadcast, Don’t Call It a Pay Gap. This one-hour roundtable discussion will address the equity challenges facing women in the workforce, including what you can do for yourself, your peers and your organization to effect change. Panelists include: Elizabeth Weingarten (Director of the Gender Parity Initiative at New America); Peter Hamilton (CEO of Tune); and Christy Johnson (Founder/CEO of Artemis Connection).
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