What it’s like to have a man take credit for work women have done

Our group of smart, sassy women weigh in on what Senators Murkowski and Collins may be thinking
By Avital Norman Nathman  Published on 08/04/2017 at 9:00 AM EDT

[Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

Remember last week’s dramatic, late-night Senate vote on health care? A lot of folks in the media are praising John McCain for his ” heroic and maverick” move — returning from his own convalescence after brain surgery to vote against the skinny bill — while neglecting to note (or glossing over) how Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins consistently voted against it (and even voted against bringing it to the floor).

Comedian Jenny Yang encapsulated the way many of us felt about this perfectly on Twitter.

It moved us to ask:

Have you ever experienced a man taking credit for your work?

A note: More than a handful of women who responded wanted to either be anonymous or publish under a pseudonym and that reveals a bigger issue: the fear that they will be labeled “difficult,” suffer work-related consequences or perhaps be treated unfairly because of disclosing a story like this is real.

Porscha Maxine:I haven’t yet experienced a man taking full credit for my work, but I often experience men taking partial credit, or receiving partial credit, despite having negligible contributions to the final product. In every job I’ve had, there’s been at least one moment where something I have worked on exclusively has been given group credit, congratulating me alongside men on the team as if we pulled equal weight for that particular project. It’s as if giving a woman credit for something by herself is so taboo that we have to find the nearest man’s shoulders to rest the burden upon. It’s incredibly frustrating. I’ve begun speaking up at every stage of the work to own what truly belongs to me, and I’ve also never hesitated to give others credit where it’s due, so this has happened to me less in the last year or so, but I don’t think it’ll ever completely end.”

Jennifer Pozner:I was trying to think of a specific example, but it’s more that it happens all the time and becomes a big swirl of Dude Stole My Look. So much so that I can’t even remember all the specifics of times when men have claimed credit for work I’ve done organizing protests at the FCC, or leading a progressive political street theater group for several years, or building a coalition around a specific media activist issue, or even nearly plagiarizing my writing and being called geniuses for my work on gender and race in media.

Jill Robi:I was once part of a team of three women writers who were ghostwriters for our (very misogynistic) boss. On one the one hand, it seemed progressive hiring women in that capacity, but there wasn’t one woman who had a public voice. He wanted to dictate how we dressed and behaved. My lack of conformity is what ultimately lead to my being canned. This was propelled, however, by one of the writers, so desperate to keep her job, who got comfortable with joining in and initiating jeering and gossip about me and my state of dress.”

Patricia Valoy:As an engineer in one of the most male-dominated sectors, transportation, I don’t remember a time when I got all the credit for anything. I always felt like someone’s helper. One of the most egregious examples of a man taking credit for my work was seeing a former boss give a presentation that I prepared and rehearsed for because at the last minute he said it would be better if a senior person presented to a client. All senior people were of course old white men.

ANONYMOUS:I do a lot of local arts event organizing and work as a social media coordinator for an indie label, and have been doing this type of work for over a decade in a couple of cities. I recently had a dude that I no longer get along with try to claim that I was only as successful at my current local work because HE was the one who told other people to work with me, never mind the fact that these were relationships already fostered on my own.

Now, could he have had conversations of support at the time? Maybe. I’m not disputing that, but I also wasn’t there. But to claim that it was all his doing? Please. I’ve been steadily moving upwards for the past decade while he’s spent it playing the same mediocre covers in bar bands.”

ANONYMOUS:After writing consistently for an online news site for over a year, my editor was replaced with someone new. The new guy (who was younger and less experienced in the industry than I am) started shooting down almost all of my pitches. However, I would then notice that he assigned other writers the exact same ideas I submitted to him. I was flabbergasted, but also at a loss as to what to do. I obviously couldn’t complain to him, and when I broached the idea with a higher-up, I was told that it was just ‘growing pains’ and that this new editor needed time to settle in. Yeah, settle in while stealing my ideas that he tossed aside in the first place!”

Mayim Bialik: I’m going to be super-honest here. My ex-husband is a brave and heroic father. He homeschools our kids, cares for them and is wonderful. But when anyone – including my kids — say how amazing he is (which I agree with!) and how wonderful they are because of him, it is almost never mentioned or acknowledged that I was a stay-at-home mother to them both during their formative years. I breastfed them exclusively — meaning no other food or beverage touched their lips — for over a year. I cooked, cleaned, nursed and slept in 1-2 hour shifts for years. I gave up my life to give them the foundation of security and healthy dependence that created a lot of their personalities. I tutored piano and Hebrew to make money. I busted my tush without a nanny or babysitter — just me and their dad. But mostly me, as it often is with babies and toddlers. Much as I understand how critical their father is to their amazingness, people forget that this working mom was working at being their mom for years. Also, I’ve had four hernias. Because those babies were heavy AF.

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