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Stop Serving Tea At The Office

And other ways you could be sabotaging your career

BY Joan Thatiah

Mar 29, 2021, 10:49 AM

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The world is not designed to elevate the woman. That’s old news. Sometimes though, things fail to work out because women get in their own way. Let me explain.

It’s a bright and sunny Monday morning. The rest of your colleagues are streaming into the office recharged for a new week. You come in late hauling a huge bag filled with cookies from your weekend baking session. You know how much your colleagues love your cooking, you had to bring some with you.

Or it’s a lazy Thursday afternoon, and the team is trying to touch base after a busy start of the week. Once everyone has settled in, you spring to your feet and begin serving the juices and cookies from the table at the corner. You are a nurturer and you like making people feel comfortable. Your colleagues love you for it and you like to think of yourself as a proper woman.

If this is you, you need to stop. First, let me say that there is nothing wrong with a woman who enjoys cooking, cleaning, and making others feel comfortable. Domesticity, when brought to the workplace, however, becomes a problem in many ways.

First, in a country where women are still earning considerably less than men for equal amounts of work done, being the one to feed your colleagues is a perfect example of gender disparity. Serve tea or wash up the dishes for a few weeks and it becomes an expectation. It becomes something extra you have to do alongside your usual workload and at n benefit to your career.

At face value, serving tea is not a big deal and you are just trying to be nice and to move things along but without knowing it, you are reinforcing negative stereotypes against women. They will be excited to try out your new recipe but what you may not see beyond the smiles is the fact that you are being judged.
For a woman at the workplace, there is never downtime. At a time when the woman is still fighting for equal opportunities to work outside the home, domesticity is exactly the image we are trying to fight. When you start feeding people at the office, you are doing a disservice to your career. It diverts attention from what you are - a professional and an executive.

If you are the one that’s always picking up after them, your colleagues will no doubt like you. Don’t confuse being liked for being successful or respected. You can be the woman they all like to see on Monday mornings but your name will not be the first one that pops into your boss’ mind when he is looking to assign a new project. Let people serve pour tea for themselves and clean up after themselves. Spend your time at the office doing the things that will help like your career like taking up more space and negotiating for better pay.

Nurture your femininity, clean, cook, and throw as many tea parties as you want but leave those instincts at the door come Monday morning.