I quit my job of 5 years after enduring years of overwork and sexism. In the past year, 7 women quit under similar circumstances and an additional one was forced out. Three of us had work-stress-related medical problems that caused us to seek medical care. The common cause of this was a toxic combination of:
- high workloads for women
- women not being listened to, particularly when discussing boundaries on their workloads
- a culture of public blame if the work was not finished well, on time, and on budget
- women often having to route decisions through peer male colleagues in order to get project work done.
It was awful.
Still, I spent five years of my career there, often did good work (conditions not-withstanding), and I like my boss as a person. In my exit interviews, I did not hold back but I also protected my boss by not mentioning him even though he is somewhat, but by no means solely, at fault for the conditions that affected me.
This workplace also suffers from exceptionalism. It is internationally well-known, generally well-regarded, and can do no wrong. When people quit, even though they are often very frank about their reasons, upper management often finds something to blame them for that makes it seem as though they weren't a good fit. For example, one woman was severely overworked and endured the conditions mentioned above. All her reports were as well, and they were depressed. She developed related physical medical problems, took a leave of absence, and quit shortly after. The response among upper management was that she was a problem because she was not collaborative enough in her decision-making.
My boss and I are having a final meeting. Because of the conflict between liking him as a person and wanting to wish him well vs. the mixed emotions of anger and shame I am experiencing as a result of working there, I don't know how to approach this meeting. From a self-preservation point of view, I need to get a good recommendation from him for future job opportunities. In terms of the recommendation, I am afraid he will resort to the culture of blame that permeates the institution and I will be disadvantaged in the job search and/or the salary I am able to ask for in the future.
To make matters worse, before I left I handed off one project to a co-worker. It is a challenging technical project that I worked very hard on. On my way out the door, I noticed that he was making technical mistakes. I will likely be blamed for these because he is a male with a swagger, and the common perception is that he is technically brilliant. The funny thing is that this is not true. Still, I will take the hit.
My teenage daughter told me to talk about 1. what a great manager he is, and 2. all the good projects I've done. Does anyone else have good advice for this final meeting?