More employees are in their workplaces this holiday season than last. For some, that means the resumption of one “tradition” they could do without – being expected to plan the holiday party.
Even well into the 21st century, chores like party planning are most often assigned to women -– even those with no particular skill or interest in it and whose job description doesn’t include it.
What is “office housework?”
Women are still most likely to be assigned these chores. This doesn’t usually mean actual housework – although it can feel like it if you’re cleaning up after an office birthday party. It can include things like ordering flowers for a sick co-worker, taking notes at or organizing meetings, pulling together a potluck –- or planning the office holiday party.
For some people – like administrative assistants – that may be part of the job description. They knew they’d have those responsibilities when they took the job. But what if those duties have nothing to do with your job, yet you’re repeatedly expected to perform them?
You may enjoy these responsibilities, and they may get you some visibility in the company. However, they can take time and focus away from your actual job. That can be detrimental to your career. It also may not be helpful to be viewed as the office “organizer.”
How can you get out of this work?
So how can you get out of being the office “room mom” while still being seen as the go-getter willing to take on anything thrown at them? It’s probably best not to just start doing the job badly. That can backfire.
Suggest to your boss that the responsibilities be delegated to others. If it’s a chore like taking notes or other administrative work, you might note that it would be a good learning experience for junior employees and that your boss could let them take turns doing it. For party planning and other “social” chores, you might suggest that since they are time-intensive responsibilities, it would be best to put them in someone’s job description where it’s more fitting.
Assigning “office housework” predominantly or exclusively to women won’t necessarily get your employer in legal trouble. However, if it’s indicative of how women in the company are viewed, it could be the sign of a larger, systemic discrimination issue that you may need to address.