I’m the only guy in the office. Every time I turn around, one of the women is asking me to lift or carry something. I don’t mind helping out once in awhile, but I have my own work to do. What do they do when I’m on vacation?
A.They say, “I sure wish X were here,” and then they do it themselves. This kind of gender stereotyping can be irritating, but maybe you can help educate your female co-workers about the realities of equality in the workplace. Be frank. Tell them just what you told me: That you don’t mind helping out from time-to-time, but the frequent requests for heavy lifting are interfering with your ability to do your work. If they don’t get it, ask how they’d feel if you expected the “girls” to fetch you coffee every day. (You don’t, right?) And on a practical level, if anyone is being expected to engage in activities that are beyond his or her physical capabilities, there is a very real risk of injury. Consult with your supervisor or HR to be sure no one gets hurt.