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How do Polish men feel about gender equality?


Enga
29 Jan 2011 #1
I work as a project manager for a construction company in Oslo. I'm working with seven polish men and some norwegians. My problem is that I feel that the polish workers have problems with me being their boss, since I'm a woman.

In Norway we probably have one of the highest number of women in managing or senior positions in the world, so this would never have been a problem for any of my norwegian workers. But I always get a lot of second opinions and mistrust from my polish workers, and to me the only explanation that comes to mind is that they are not used to working for a female manager.

They are all great guys, a lot of good humor and fun to work with. But I'm thinking that this may be a cultural diffenrence. We have talked a bit about this and from what I'm hearing Poland isn't very ground breaking when it comes to equality in any forms (gender, sexual orientation, different religions etc.).

How should I approach this with them? (I could of course blame it on my managing skills, but I have been doing this job very successfully for six years now. So I don't think that's the problem.)

Will they ever respect me as a manager, or should I stop hirering polish workers?
enkidu 7 | 623
29 Jan 2011 #2
You need to gain their respect.
Being a woman make this task a little bit challenging, but that's all.

Can you give some example of their actions?

BTW:

Will they ever respect me as a manager, or should I stop hirering polish workers?

That would be discrimination, right?
vetala - | 382
29 Jan 2011 #3
You're jumping to wrong conclusions. I'm a Polish woman and I know loads of women in senior positions and men whose bosses are female. It's not rare at all and it's viewed as completely normal.

But I always get a lot of second opinions and mistrust from my polish workers, and to me the only explanation that comes to mind is that they are not used to working for a female manager.

Really? Because the only explanation that comes to MY mind is that they are not used to things being done the way you propose so they simply voice their objections.

should I stop hirering polish workers?

Fighting prejudice with prejudice? How classy...
ShawnH 8 | 1,501
29 Jan 2011 #4
Fire one as an example, but make sure you are within your rights. Then hire another one in his place. I am sure the rest will follow in line when they realize who the boss is.

Keep in mind that construction workers aren't necessarily going to be the most sensitive to gender equality issues as say somebody in the financial services or health care industries might be. Construction is typically a male dominated industry, and it will take a while for the mind set to change.
convex 20 | 3,978
29 Jan 2011 #5
Are they from the countryside perchance?

Fighting prejudice with prejudice? How classy...

It's a question of getting things done. If it's a cultural problem, why give yourself the headache of seeking out Polish workers because they're a bit cheaper? If it's not worth the hassle, she can always look somewhere else instead of trying to play sociologist.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
29 Jan 2011 #6
Some guys just don,t like having a woman boss.....

I am afraid male chauvenism is present in all nationalities , as long as they do as they are told...don,t worry about it....
vetala - | 382
29 Jan 2011 #7
If it's a cultural problem

But it's not, so what now?
convex 20 | 3,978
29 Jan 2011 #8
She makes it sound like it's a systemic problem, too much effort. If they're manual labor, just source from somewhere else. Easy enough.
southern 75 | 7,096
29 Jan 2011 #9
Just dress like a polish girl and you will appear bossy to them.
OP Enga
29 Jan 2011 #10
Haha:) sounds like a good solution. How do polish girls dress?

Back to the subject. The problem is that I feel that I have to spend a lot of time to justify my decisions to them. This is not something that I am willing to spend half of my day doing. I did it to begin with because I guessed that this was a new situation for them. But it has been like this for over 9 months! There has been some improvements, but inot as much as I had hoped.

A very common situation can be something like this: I ask one of them to use a different tool because of regulations/standards/it's the wrong tool/not according to protocol. They will always question me why, and most likely disagree with what I was saying, but they will comply with the orders grudgingly. Later during the day the same employee can be doing the same mistake, and if he is beeing told off by one of the (male) teamleaders he will without question or objections do as he is told.

And as someone said I don't feel it's my job to teach my workers how to deal with female superiors. I am a project manager, my sex does not affect how I do my job. I treat all my coworkers the same, and I expect them to treat me as they treat any other manager.

The reason why we were using polish workers is because the unemployment rate in norway is so low (3%) and that makes it hard to find qualified workers in Norway. And the polish workers are good at their job, but you can not overlook that it is a different culture. And sometimes this can create problems and misunderstandings.
Mr Grunwald 19 | 1,542
29 Jan 2011 #11
I ask one of them to use a different tool because of regulations/standards/it's the wrong tool/not according to protocol.

Ahhhh... So they like using their own tools? Yeah breaking old habbits may get problematic. But as others have pointed out there are several female bosses in Poland... Although I don't know much abou the construction works tho!

I think you should gain their respect simply, not becaouse your a women, or a man! Becaouse your their boss!
wildrover 98 | 4,451
29 Jan 2011 #12
A very common situation can be something like this: I ask one of them to use a different tool because of regulations/standards/it's the wrong tool/not according to protocol. They will always question me why, and most likely disagree with what I was saying, but they will comply with the orders grudgingly.

Just tell them you don,t want a dam debate about it....they can do as you tell them , or go look for a job elsewhere...

I think you have been very understanding with them...now its time to kick somebodies ass...

i think maybe you have been a bit too easy on them in the past and now they see you as a soft touch....

Treat them fairly.....but don,t take any crap from them...
alexw68
29 Jan 2011 #13
construction workers aren't necessarily going to be the most sensitive to gender equality issues as say somebody in the financial services [industry]

Chance'd be a fine thing. The City is NOT an equal opps environment.
ShawnH 8 | 1,501
29 Jan 2011 #14
The City is NOT an equal opps environment.

Agree, that side of the business is not a female bastion of strength, but your local bank branch would be more along the lines of what I was thinking.
alexw68
29 Jan 2011 #15
but your local bank branch would be more along the lines of what I was thinking.

True, true.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
29 Jan 2011 #16
My problem is that I feel that the polish workers have problems with me being their boss, since I'm a woman.

I'm qualified Electrician and don't have any problem when my boss/employer is a woman.

Majority of my clients are women and they call me when the socket in the kitchen doesn't work but their husbands don't like to repair it. I'm doing my job quickly and in a professional manner ;)
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387
29 Jan 2011 #17
How should I approach this with them?

get their leader into the office and tell him who the boss is and remind him that he and his team can be replaced. tell him u are not in the habit of being questioned and don't like to repeat yourself... especially to fellow professionals. make it plain that if they are not happy with this arrangement they may leave now. u are the boss... act like one.
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
29 Jan 2011 #18
Poland isn't very ground breaking when it comes to equality in any forms (gender, sexual orientation, different religions etc.).

You could start by being a little less insulting perhaps? Maybe then you would realize that Poland was the first in Europe to pass a law of religious toleration!

Has it ever crossed your mind that your competence could be at issue here? Or are you simply demanding not necessarily equal treatment, but rather a bit more special treatment?
wildrover 98 | 4,451
29 Jan 2011 #19
You could start by being a little less insulting perhaps? Maybe then you would realize that Poland was the first in Europe to pass a law of religious toleration!

Perhaps because Poland was the first country in Europe to need it....?
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
29 Jan 2011 #20
No, because they had seen what was happening in France (St. Bartholomew's Day massacre) and was was on the verge of happening in Germany and they decided to take another course of action.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
29 Jan 2011 #21
In Norway we probably have one of the highest number of women in managing or senior positions in the world

In fairness now that is because of a ridiculously sexiest law which has bankrupt some companies for not having a mandatory 40% Corporate Board Seats which Must be Female.

(I am not Polish).

How should I approach this with them? (I could of course blame it on my managing skills, but I have been doing this job very successfully for six years now. So I don't think that's the problem.)

You sound reasonable and trying to find an answer is in itself a skill, you are showing your managerial skills by asking, so I would not worry too much about that.

Just tell them you don,t want a dam debate about it....they can do as you tell them , or go look for a job elsewhere...

I think you have been very understanding with them...now its time to kick somebodies ass...

i think maybe you have been a bit too easy on them in the past and now they see you as a soft touch....

Treat them fairly.....but don,t take any crap from them...

Of all the responses, from personal experience, I think this is the best.

You can only explain yourself so much but the work needs to be done and you still should be fair and professional.

Firm but fair :)
NomadatNet 1 | 457
29 Jan 2011 #22
I work as a project manager for a construction company in Oslo. I'm working with seven polish men and some norwegians. My problem is that I feel that the polish workers have problems with me being their boss, since I'm a woman.

It is not because you are a woman, but, because you are a project manager. Construction workers are doing heavy works. They have same problems with male project managers everywhere in the world as they get much less money than their managers while they do heavier works than the managers. (If any of them said this to you openly, you'd kick him out of company.) It is a managing problem rather than gender problem.
grubas 12 | 1,391
29 Jan 2011 #23
Enga:
In Norway we probably have one of the highest number of women in managing or senior positions in the world
In fairness now that is because of a ridiculously sexiest law which has bankrupt some companies for not having a mandatory 40% Corporate Board Seats which Must be Female.

Exactly.Freaking ridiculous.Now they are talking about introducing this kind of law in the US.Nobody will ever convince me that this is fair and not discriminating.I may be wrong but my understanding of fairness is that the best man for the job should get the position wheter it's male,female,black,white, yellow or whatever.
southern 75 | 7,096
29 Jan 2011 #24
Mind you that most women prefer to have men as bosses.All this affirmative action in favor of minorities,women etc is not unrelated to the current crisis.
Natasa 1 | 580
29 Jan 2011 #25
Mind you that most women prefer to have men as bosses.

You are wise as usual boss :))
BBman - | 344
29 Jan 2011 #26
In some lines of work it is difficult for some men to take female bosses seriously. I don't think this way personally (i have a female boss), but some men do.

What age are the workers? Sounds like they are older (45+). Try hiring younger guys, they are probably more accustomed to seeing women in managerial positions.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
29 Jan 2011 #27
Elephant in the room!
A neighbour ,british but with 'ski at the end of his name tells how at his workplace if one of the "local"managers say anything to the Polish workers it is always questioned and debated,however,whenever it is one of the Polish born foremen(person)(speaking in english) no questions are asked,no grumbles,just on with the job.

Gender may not have anything to do with it. :)
My own workplace though,nothing like that,Pole,brit,male,female,we all do pretty much the same thing so its maybe just the background/nature of particular types of workmen :)
vetala - | 382
29 Jan 2011 #28
A very common situation can be something like this: I ask one of them to use a different tool because of regulations/standards/it's the wrong tool/not according to protocol. They will always question me why, and most likely disagree with what I was saying, but they will comply with the orders grudgingly.

That's a natural reaction. They are used to having always done things they way they did, so obviously they resist the change. It also quite natural that they only really start obeying after having been corrected twice, not because they were corrected by a man but simply because they thought they might get away with disobeying when their boss isn't looking.

I have no idea why you think it could have anything to do with your gender and I am disturbed and offended by your assumption that Poland is some backward place where women have no rights.
emha - | 92
29 Jan 2011 #29
just hire Polish women
xlc - | 1
12 Apr 2011 #30
Merged thread:
Gender equality among Polish couples.

Hi,

I have a question about gender equality among Polish coupples, married, or among people who are dating.
How does the gender equality look like among coupples in Pl?
If you go out w a girl/guy, who usually pays? Does the men always end up paying for woman on a first date, regular basis, etc?

Or is is splitted up?

How does it look like among coupples in the household (married, or living together). Is it the woman or men who usually stays on maternal (maternity?) leave?Is there any benefits available such as parental leave?

Who usually pays the most in the household (or biggest burden)? Is there any "norms" of how the distributions of house work, and economics payments is divided btw coupples, what "tactic" do you use? Is the men usually paying the most in the household or do you split w your partner (how do you divide the economic costs??) in your relationship?? Or do you just separate your sallaries and eachone pays for themselves, even in a common household (w/or wh children) or relationship. How do you work it out?

thanks for advice


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