Being a woman in most Nigerian offices is a peculiar experience. Actually, being a woman in Nigeria is a peculiar experience. When you get out of university and get into the workforce, you get flooded with tips and tricks to help you navigate your 9 to 5. But no one tells you what to do when despite your first degree and two masters degrees, a subordinate asks you to make tea because you are the only woman in the room. If that and these ten other things have happened to you in a Nigerian office, you should sign up and join our support group coming really soon.
Ever gotten a condescending ‘calm down’ or ‘it’s okay’ when trying to make a point about something you are passionate about? Yeah, me too sis.
Yeah, that’s exactly what I said…
Imagine this. You are in a meeting, you’ve written down your points about a topic and eloquently delivered them to the room. You’ve barely finished talking when you hear a distinct male voice from the back of the room say ‘What she’s trying to say is…’ and then he goes on to say everything you just said in almost the exact same words. But compared to when you spoke, everyone is suddenly nodding in agreement.
Getting a healthy dose of mansplaining in 9 out of 10 conversations
You could be talking about how periods and sanitary products, and one guy will chip in to explain how they ‘really’ work to you – you, who has been having periods for at least 60% of your life now.
The world stops when you are not smiling
Maybe you are having a bad day, or cramps are killing you, or you are just not in the mood to fix your work smile on your face. You’ll probably get 8 ‘why are you not smiling?’ and 6 ‘who annoyed you?’ before your lunch break.
You are the unofficial food prefect
Raise a hand if you’ve ever found yourself in this situation. A birthday cake was ordered for a coworker, the little happy birthday jingle has been sung and it’s now time to share the cake. You are the only woman in the room. All of a sudden, everyone’s gaze turns to you as they wait expectantly for you to take charge. One or two men who are bold enough to say it go right ahead and say – ‘So Sikemi, shey you’ll help us share the cake?’
You’ve mastered the art of the awkward smile
Every day, as you get ready for work you get ready to make use of your awkward smile for every inappropriate comment you get from a superior or coworker you are not ready to get into an argument with.
Getting pitched your own ideas
Ever gotten a suggestion from a coworker that sounded a little familiar? That’s because you brought it up in a meeting weeks ago. You only just remembered it because no one acknowledged it when you brought it up.
Saying sorry 502 times an hour
You punctuate the beginning and end of every single sentence with a sorry because you don’t want to come across as bitchy. ‘I’m sorry but could you please help me do this thing that is actually your job, thank you so much’.
Still being discreet about your period like you are 13 years old
Because even though it’s 2019 and women have been having periods since time immemorial, grown men still cringe at the sight of pads and tampons still in their packs. I’ve always wondered if they’d pass out at the sight of bloody ones.
And talking about periods
Having to grit your teeth and work through the worst cramps every month. Because if you took a sick day off for every time you got cramps, you’d get a query from HR in two months tops.
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