my manager’s daughter’s wedding will separate men and women, job searching soon after starting a new job, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My manager’s daughter’s wedding will separate men and women

I am a physician at a small office. I am the only female physician, and our support staff consists of both men and women. The owner of the practice is a religious man whose religious beliefs require him to completely separate seating at weddings (separate at the ceremony, separate for dinner and dancing with a partition down the middle of the room). When his daughter got married, he invited the entire practice, and all of the male physicians and male support staff sat together at one table, while I was assigned to sit with the female support staff and the wives of the physicians. It felt like my actual colleagues had the chance to hang out and bond, while I entertained their wives and chatted with our support staff (who are lovely, but they aren’t exactly my colleagues).

His other daughter just got engaged, and he invited the entire office to the wedding. I appreciate that the office has such a collegial feel that he invites us to family events, but I am dreading sitting at the wives and support staff table again while my colleagues who I work with on a day to day basis all sit together and bond. It was especially awkward that the male support staff got to sit with my colleagues while I didn’t.

Is it proper etiquette to decline to attend? I am the most junior doctor in the office, and don’t want to insult him, nor do I think it is reasonable that he create a table for men and women to sit together if that is religiously or culturally inappropriate at these events. I have a lot of respect for my boss, but this is just awkward. Any advice on how to handle this?

It’s totally reasonable to decline to attend — for any reason, really, but this one is certainly a good one. Etiquette does not require you to attend the weddings of people you’re not close to, and it definitely doesn’t require you to suck it up and deal with sex segregation when you could instead politely decline to attend.

Of course, as with declining any other social event that you’d just rather not attend, there’s no need to explain that; it’s fine to simply say that you have another commitment that day and to give him your best wishes for his daughter’s marriage.

2. My company asked me to write a review on Glassdoor

I have worked at my current employer for fewer than six months. A couple of weeks after I received an award (whoop whoop!), a senior executive approached me personally to review my employer on Glassdoor. 

My manager and director know some of the stumbling blocks in recruitment, and those are imposed from the top (compensation and time-off packages). I personally am happy here so far, even with those caveats.

The request made me uneasy. An executive known for “playing politics” asked me to submit a review that, due to its timing, would be less anonymous. And following so closely on the heels of an award — well, it felt almost transactional and definitely a political minefield. I declined, saying that I had just not been here long enough. Any tips should this come up again? It surely will.

Yeah, that would make me uneasy too. And your company really shouldn’t be putting you in that position; there’s an implication that you have to write something positive, which is contrary to the whole point of anonymous reviews.

If it comes up again, you could try saying, “Oh, I never use those sites; I’ve never found them reliable,” which would then require him to directly order you to write a review if he really wants to push it, which most managers aren’t going to do. Or you could say something non-comittal, “Oh, maybe I will” and then never follow through (which would then require him continually hassling you about it, which is also unlikely). Or, of course, you could write one, if you feel like you have genuinely positive things to say about the company. But I wouldn’t let them push you into it if you don’t want to.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Is my employer’s new expense policy normal or legal?

My job (professor) requires a lot of travel to conferences and other places, all on my own credit card and sometimes I can get it reimbursed. (Sometimes there is money available you can compete for to get expenses reimbursed; sometimes you know you are on your own dime.)

That is fine (well not “fine” but definitely understandable), but now the department in charge of reimbursing expenses is requiring not only a detailed and itemized receipt (no hotel fees will be reimbursed as they do not explain what the fee is, for example) with our names on them, but we also have to provide our credit card statements to show we we really charged for the items on our receipts.

Is this legal? And do other organizations do this?? No notice was issued about this – we only found out as our reimbursements were being denied. I’m so angry about it, I’m starting to look for another job; but thought I should find out whether this is common or not.

Requiring credit card statements and an explanation of expenses is pretty standard (and definitely legal), but the part about not reimbursing hotel fees that the hotel doesn’t explain is pretty weird. That said, I’d just start telling hotels that you need fees spelled out (which isn’t an unreasonable request). The big issue I see here is that they didn’t give you any warning of this and started applying it retroactively, which is unfair since you may have lost the opportunity to get that documentation. I’d try pushing back on that piece, pointing out that you shouldn’t lose money for following a policy that changed after your expenses were incurred.

4. I’m not sure I want to continue interviewing with this company

I recently interviewed for a small startup by responding to a social media status they posted looking to hire full time positions for their company. The status basically asked for a “Jill of all Trades” type of person and said to email their company for a full description. As the company sounds like a fun place to work for, I sent in a cover letter and my resume to the email and inquired for more details. A day later, the founders asked to have a phone interview with me.

The interview went well and the conversation was not awkward, but then one of the cofounders mentioned that the position is paid hourly and has no benefits except for discounts off their products since their finances aren’t very stable yet. This was all news to me since they did not post this information on their job opening ad on their Facebook. I’m currently working full time, paid in salary and have a generous benefits package. I’m looking to relocate to the city this startup is in, but I’m already hesitant about the position since I’m not sure if I’m willing to forgo health insurance and paid vacation.

They sent me an email today asking to have a Skype interview on Friday, but I’m not so sure if I should go through with it. If I don’t, would I risk angering them? Should I go through with it anyway to see how much they are willing to pay hourly, if I receive an offer? If not, how do I decline going through with the next steps politely?

It’s totally reasonable to withdraw from their hiring process if you decide the job isn’t for you; in fact, that’s more considerate than wasting their time (and an interview slot that could have gone to someone else) if you know you wouldn’t take the job. It would also be polite to explain your reason, since it’s useful for them to understand why candidates might lose interest. If you’re not 100% sure and it hinges on the hourly rate, you could also reach out now to discuss that — saying something like, “Before I take up more of your time, I should mention that I have some concerns about the compensation you mentioned when we last spoke. I’m currently in a salaried position with a generous benefits package; I’d be unlikely to leave it for an hourly role without benefits, although that would of course depend on what that hourly rate was. Are you able to tell me the hourly range for the role?”

Generally, asking directly salary at this stage is frowned on (which is ridiculous, but the convention nonetheless), but in this specific case, you’re framing it as (a) following up on information they already gave you and (b) trying to figure out if that information makes the role prohibitive for you, so reasonable people in their shoes shouldn’t have a problem with that (and should appreciate your candor).

5. Job searching soon after starting a new job

I applied to a job which was opening new facilities in my town. When I was hired, they asked me if I could start at their headquarters until the new facilities opened. I agreed even though it is a long commute since it was suppose to be temporary. They said it would be for three to four months max. We’re approaching the three month mark and things are looking grim. In fact, they have temporarily closed facilities which just opened. Supervisors and HR cannot give me a clear answer. I cannot afford to do this commute permanently and wouldn’t have even applied if it was to work at the current location. Should I start looking for a new job so soon? How do I frame this new job in resumes and interviews for prospective employers?

It sounds like you should be looking, since they can’t promise you that the job you were hired for will even exist. And if they keep you on, it might be at a facility with a longer commute than you want.

As for framing it to prospective new employers, “Unfortunately, the new facility they hired me to work in may not open after all” has the benefit of being both true and entirely understandable.

{ 583 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    OP #3: I work for a state university, and it’s pretty much the same policy here on hotel fees. Unless a charge on the bill is clearly a hotel expense, the reimbursement for it gets kicked out of the system (I’ve had various things deducted from the reimbursement that don’t count as lodging, for instance). Most conference hotels break down fees pretty clearly, even separating out local taxes and fees, so I haven’t found it a problem. I don’t remember if I’m required to show my credit card statement every time or just if there’s no explicit paid invoice at the end of the stay, but I know I’ve had to include it quite frequently in my travel docs as well. I don’t think these are universal academic requirements (small private colleges, for instance, may be much more informal on these things), and it’s annoying that you got no notice on the change of policy, but I don’t think it’s an outlier, either.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I’ve had a similar policy at a publicly traded company as well.

      My advice – use a separate card just for this purpose. If you can’t, get your black sharpie out and redact, redact, redact. I never wanted my employer to see any of the purchases I made that didn’t involve business travel. Too big brother.

      1. Kara*

        Yep, I have a card I use just for travel, and in a previous role, if there were other purchases on it (say, if I took a personal trip and a work trip in the same billing period), I crossed out everything that wasn’t work-related. (In my current role we fill out a form and submit corresponding receipts.) I used to do this at my old job for physical fitness reimbursement because I applied it to my gym membership, so I’d submit statements with everything but the membership crossed out. Worked fine.

      2. sunny-dee*

        Yeah. It’s one thing to use your personal card for travel — but not if you have to submit your credit card statement to verify. My current company provides a corporate card for this very reason. It’s a real invasion of privacy.

        1. fposte*

          I use my personal card; I just redact irrelevant stuff. I don’t find it a big deal–it’s mostly a question of finding the marker.

          1. the gold digger*

            I have to admit that I am shocked at how many organizations apparently do not require expense reports to be completed and approved by the submitter’s boss for expense reimbursement. Just paying someone’s credit card bill based on the statement seems like a very bad practice to me.

            I lived in a city where one of the county employees was using his county credit card to charge a lot of personal items, including fees for his daughter’s wedding reception. If he had had to complete an expense report, explaining what each item was, and submit it to his boss for approval, a lot of those charges never would have been paid.

            1. fposte*

              It’s not just on the credit card bill, though (at least not for me); that’s just confirmation that I actually did pay. I still have to confirm conference attendance (and many places would be required to confirm I didn’t just attend but presented).

              Academic hierarchies are way too flat to allow for a system where the boss would have to approve all travel expenses in advance, but if faculty were to use their meager travel allowance to travel to a conference they didn’t actually attend, it’s mostly themselves they’d end up hurting–they’d either go without the expected conference work and get dinged for that, or they’d have to pay for it out of their own pocket.

            2. Cat*

              I think it depends. My firm doesn’t require particularly stringent documentation of expenses nor do they review them particularly carefully (though I’m sure they would if someone was submitting something that looked outrageous). But it’s a partnership – apparently the partnership has decided that the good will and lower administrative costs involved with trusting their employees is worth whatever risk of fraud (which, as far as I know, has never been an issue on any kind of noticeable scale; at worst, they’ve paid for the odd questionable meal). And since they’re not accountable to tax payers, or even shareholders, that’s a call they can reasonably make.

          2. Jerry Vandesic*

            I do the same. The benefit for me is that I get to keep the reward points for company travel. A minor, but nice, perk.

          3. Cindi*

            I use my personal card and get reimubursed as well, but I don’t have to give them the credit card statement. They just want the original receipt. The only time I’ve provided a credit card statement is when I didn’t have a receipt, and yeah, I went to work with the marker before I submitted it.

      3. Cath in Canada*

        Yep, I just redact everything on the statement that isn’t directly related to the reimbursement, including the credit card number, total balance, credit limit, etc. Not anyone’s business but mine.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Changing the documentation requirements without notice is normal. Happens to DH every couple years. If you are unhappy about other things, then you can start looking at other institutions, but just be aware that budget tightening is going on everywhere and reimbursement for travel expenses will be a pain no matter where you go.

      1. Artemesia*

        The nit picky stuff is annoying. In Universities they rarely cover travel close to fully — people get a small budget for conferences and then instead of just making it a per diem or flat amount they try to micromanage. I remember when they were allowing 25$ for dinner and all you had to do was write that on the form, but someone decided that people were eating for less and cheating by reporting $25 since so many people seemed to max out the dinner allowance and they demanded receipt. What was really happening of course is that people in New York or New Orleans or San FRancisco were paying a lot more than $25 for dinner and then paying the difference themselves. So when we started providing receipts as requested the thing would be bounced back because the dinner cost more than $25 — but people were not CLAIMING more than that, they were still entering $25 on the sheet but the receipts were for the actual amount.

        I was required to provide evidence that I hadn’t ordered alcohol on a meal receipted from McDonalds after one trip; we always had to have itemized meal receipts.

        If they are only going to provide limited funding for conferences, I never understood why they were so picky about documentation. EVERYONE spent a lot more than was reimbursed just to attend these conferences. It would have made more sense to reimburse airfare, hotel and registration till the money ran out and per diem for other expenses rather than combing through a stack of receipts.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Ugh, yes, the nickel and diming thing is so annoying. I went to a conference once in a relatively close city. I rode with a friend (did not claim mileage), stayed with a friend (did not claim hotel), got free registration (for helping at the conference), and then the finance department argued with every little detail for every receipt for meals.

          For evidence of no alcohol at McDonald’s, did you send them a picture of the menu?

          1. fposte*

            The restaurants in our college town know to bill university parties separately for the alcohol because of this.

          2. Jessa*

            Yeh, my only issue is the same one the OP had, you do not do this retroactively. But yes, nickel and diming is pretty much the forte of the reimbursement department. The point however is that you explain this UP FRONT. I did this work for a bit and I remember they’d have seminars for new people to explain how to fill out the forms (this was quite pre-computerised everything, there were computers for spreadsheets and stuff but not really internet filing or anything like that, the reports came in on paper.) But the company made very sure everyone knew what the standard was to get the money before anyone left on a trip.

            On the other hand I’ve not seen any hotel lately that cannot provide a detailled breakdown on charges. I mean every hotellier around is pretty much supported by the business clientele. This is kind of standard now, unless the OP was at some very small location of a family run joint? The McDonalds example is just people being stupid. Unless you took 20 people with you, the cost of the meal would be obvious there was no booze, irrespective of the actual menu which anyone knows about. Plus McDonalds actually gives you two receipts, the ticket on the bag which shows the products in it and the charge receipt that might NOT be as itemised. You just staple both together because they have times on them.

            1. fposte*

              Though your comment reminds me that around here such a change would be indeed be heralded by the emailed announcement of workshops–which nobody would attend, and then we’d all complain about being “blindsided” by these changes.

          3. Davey1983*

            My father is a university professor, and I happened to be visiting his office one day when he was on the phone with someone from the finance office because they had rejected his reimbursement claim. My Dad put the call on speaker so that I could hear what was being said, and for me to confirm to other people what was being said.

            Turns out, my father had crossed the international date line during his trip, so some of the receipts showed dates that were different from the days his authorization form showed he would be gone from work. The individual in the finance department kept saying ‘you must think I’m an idiot– you’re trying to tell me there is some imaginary line that if you cross will magically make it another day!’

            My Dad just kept asking the guy to google international date line, but the guy (for some unknown reason) refused to do so.

        2. Melissa*

          Oh man, I remember for a time I was on an NIH-funded fellowship that operated on different rules than most NIH-funded fellowships, so instead of the reimbursements we actually got a travel allowance that included the per diem. We had a business manager who booked my hotel and flights out of the travel budget and them they just gave me the cash up front depending on how many days I was there. The per-day allowance was like $110 for food! And I don’t remember whether we had to return extra or not – I don’t remember collecting receipts. That was the best travel allowance arrangement I ever had.

          I always wondered why more places didn’t do the per diem for food – seems a lot easier than tracking down amounts and reimbursing.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m at a state university too, and this separation of fees from lodging is totally normal for us. Lodging consists of room and taxes only, and we have to have an invoice which specifically shows the separation of room and taxes. Any other fees have to be separated out as individual expenses and may or may not be reimbursed. (Ex. room service goes into the per diem meals amount, parking is separated out as parking, internet is separated out as well, and we must provide a business reason for reimbursing it: “internet for employee to maintain contact with office”).

      1. Jamie*

        I think they do this because some fees like for movies are listed ambiguously on some hotel bills – it’s nice if they’d pick that up, but not unreasonable if they don’t.

        Personally I’m a pita about ambiguous “fees” listed in any bill…in my personal life they usually tell me to go scratch since consumer me means nothing to them. Work contracts, even Comcast, ATT, etc will breakout the fees and what they are for to get me to sign.

    4. Red*

      I handled employee expense reimbursement at a major financial institution for about a year or so. We required itemized hotel statements and proof of payment (generally in the form of a credit card statement). Redacting unrelated items was what we preferred employees to do because A. we don’t want to know about your spending habits and B. it makes finding the relevant information on the required documentation much easier. On occasion, though, an employee would scan both sides of their credit card and even sometimes a license and send that to us as well, to our eternal woe.

    5. cuppa*

      Yes, most hotels that host business travelers should be able to provide an invoice that would be acceptable for reimbursement.
      My husband once attended a mini-conference where you had to scan your badge every day to prove you were there. IIRC, some or most of the expenses were covered by a company presenting the conference, not his employer.
      I have a corporate credit card, but I have to submit all of my itemized receipts and an explanation for each charge. If I’m reimbursed from my personal CC, I submit my receipts with any personal purchases redacted.

    6. Cajun2Core*

      I work in finance at a public university. Keep in mind that when travelling for the University and getting reimbursed, you are travelling on state funds (read taxes). Many states and even the federal government have very strict laws about what can be reimbursed. Think about how you would feel if you found out that a state employee was using state funds to go to a “Gentlemen’s Club” (don’t laugh, it happened at this University a few years back). We have to make sure that this isn’t happening.

      For lodging, we have to make sure that such things as alcohol, movies, etc. since these are not allowed on state funds (again read taxes). Again how would you feel if you found out that a state employee spent hundreds of your tax dollars watching movies in his hotel room. Also, since there are limits on the amount that can be reimbursed for meals per day, we have to make sure that someone didn’t order the $100.00 surf-and-terf for room service.

      Now, I do have to say that having a zeroed out receipt and a credit-card statement (which is what I understood the OP/LW had to do is a bit odd. For us, one or the other is all that is needed. If you don’t have a zeroed out receipt from the hotel, a credit-card statement is needed to show that you actually paid for it. The one thing I can think of as to why they may need the credit card receipt is that there are times when the hotel is included in the conference costs, or the hotel is paid by some other third party. In this case theoretically, a person could submit a zero-ed out hotel receipt/folio for reimbursement but actually not have paid for the hotel.

      Again and I can’t stress this enough, keep in mind that these are taxpayer dollars that you are spending and the University has to prove that the money spent was not only spent legally, but also that it was legitimate spending.

      1. Cassie*

        I process travel reimbursements for my bosses (professors at a state university) and providing itemized receipts with proof of payment (if the receipt doesn’t show something like “Mastercard xxxx-1234”, then a copy of a credit card statement would need to be submitted) is standard for us as well. One thing that I like about international trips is that we can use per diem for food & lodging rather than actual expenses – not just that we *can* use it, but that our accounting office actually prefers us to use it. This is something that we just found out when one of the policy reviewers made an off-handed comment – they definitely do not tell us this during training.

        Some organization did an investigative report on how much our university administrators spent on travel and it was quite illuminating to find out some of them were taking limos from campus to the airport (about 10 miles) because they needed the working space to be able to do work during the drive. Granted, our traffic is terrible so it can take you an hour to drive those 10 miles.

        And speaking of hotel charges, one boss asked me to look into an unidentified $20 charge on his credit card from the hotel was for (it was separate from the room bill). Apparently, he took home one of the items from the hotel room that had a “take me home!” sign but didn’t realize that they will charge you for it.

    7. Bea W*

      Was a frequent traveler (now less so) working for a private companies, and have always been required to submit itemized receipts with our expense reports. I’ve never had to show the credit card statement, but if they had asked I wouldn’t have thought it odd. It’s certainly easy enough to show a receipt and claim you paid that expense out of pocket. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, but there are always The People who Ruin it for Everyone Else.

      Like other people here, I used one card for business travel and nothing else. It was just easier to keep track of. In my current job, people are required to use corporate cards, so the company does see exactly what I have paid for when using it, and they pay the charges directly, which makes things super easy.

      If you have to pay out of pocket, I highly recommend using a card with some kind of reward program, miles, points, whatever suits your fancy. If you travel frequently, those rewards add up very quickly!

  2. Dan*


    In a sense, I get what you’re worried about. At the same time, pretty much all of this comes down to money. Doesn’t offer health insurance? An increase in hourly rate would give you money to pay for it. No vacation? An increase in hourly rate would allow you to take “unpaid” time off.

    If the rate is high enough, it makes up for the lack of benefits (presuming you can negotiate a certain amount of unpaid time off that they won’t give you crap for.)

    But in general, no, I would jump ship for the same wage but no benefits. I’m not sure I’d even do it for stock options.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Stock options should be looked at the same way as money found lying in the street: a nice surprise, but not something you should count on.

      My experience with stock options is that you have to exercise them at the exact right time, and then sell the shares at the exact right moment (while still complying with all the SEC rules around insider trading) in order for them to really pay off. I got lucky once, but then after the IPO the stock price plummeted and my remaining options were under water. Then the company went bankrupt.

      1. the gold digger*

        My mom once asked me why I would buy my company’s stock for the strike price of $42 a share using my 3,000 options instead of buying it on the open market for $22 a share.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree about stock options. It’s a nice way for the company to give you something that might work into being absolutely nothing at all.

    2. Just Visiting*

      OTOH, if she really wants to move to that city, a decrease in wages now could be worth it for that. If she wants to look for a different job later, she’ll already be living in the city, so she’ll be much better poised to get a better-paying job later on. In a sense, she’d be using them as a way to get into that city. I stockpiled money until I could move to my dream city without a job, but if I hadn’t done that? I would have totally taken a pay cut to relocate. This all depends on her wanting to move there enough to play the long game.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I was thinking something similar, if it’s a good option to relocate to the city then it’s worth considering and the op can look for another job whilst she’s there

      2. Helka*

        That’s something she’d want to weigh very carefully, though. As we all know, job hunting is not reliable or quick; she’d have to be sure she can get by on the reduced income for a few years at least, in order to have a sufficient safety net. I did the “well I’ll move now with a not-great income and then job hunt from there” strategy and paid for years in the financial and physical toll it took on me.

        1. AnonyMouse*

          And she might also want to consider the effect that a while at a lower pay rate might have on her negotiating position in the future, if she was applying with companies who wanted a salary history before making an offer.

    3. Chriama*

      I think that’s a reasonable stance, but the company states they’re not offering benefits and paid time off because they can’t afford it. Therefore, I doubt they can afford to give OP an hourly wage high enough to compensate for it (since she can’t really take advantages of economies of scale or negotiate a better group rate). The only way I would really see this working is if the wages are higher in that city than where she is now and she could keep her cost of living the same. In that case, increased income without increased expenses would allow the OP a decent safety net while working there until the company is making enough money to pay her properly or she has enough experience to leave.

      Another thing to note — a startup that can’t afford to pay people competitive wages may not be getting the best employees AND is probably not financially stable. Incurring the expense of moving only to find yourself unexpectedly looking for a job is a risk that probably depends more on how much money you currently have saved than how much money this company says they’ll be willing to pay you.

      1. OP 4*

        OP here. To give some context into my plans to relocate, I am trying to relocate from CA to NYC (trying to switch industries and reunite with my long distance SO who is in school), which means this hourly wage would have to be significantly higher than what my current salary + benefit values are (if broken down into hourly pay to compare apples to apples) to offset the increase in standard of living and out of pocket expenses I would have to incur without insurance. Also, the interviewer stated that their busiest time of the year is now to the end of holiday season, which could translate into increased work hours and minimal vacation time for employees during the holidays. She did, however, continually emphasize that this is an hourly full-time job and not a temporary/contract position, which is what they have been offering up until this point due to seasonal busy times of the year.

        I have thought thoroughly about relocating with a lower pay and then job searching, but at the same time I don’t want to burn bridges by leaving the company so soon or even move across the states to work in a job I’m not sure I will stay in for long. I definitely do want to try working for a startup and their product seems very enticing (and my current job is stagnant and making me miserable, despite the generous benefits), but at the same time, I don’t have a lot saved up to buffer any delayed paychecks since I just entered the workforce last spring.

        1. Chriama*

          That concerns me. You con’t have much of an emergency fund and costs of living are higher. I don’t think a company that can’t afford to pay for benefits can afford to give you the equivalent in cash, but you might not want or need all the benefits they don’t offer (e.g. if you can get on your SO’s student health insurance).
          Your original question had to do with whether it was rude to withdraw from consideration. The answer to that is no. You can choose to go to this interview or not and are still not obligated to accept an offer, however if you would only go to the next interview if the hourly wage was good enough, you might as well ask now.
          My advice has more to do with whether or not the hourly wage is worth it, and only you can make that calculation. However, if you wouldn’t be comfortable at that rate for at least a year, and you wouldn’t be able to support yourself during a job search if you were unexpectedly laid off, I would recommend caution.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’d be more concerned about the shutting of facilities and the lack of answers from management than the hourly rate. Those point to serious problems with the company and I would wonder if I were jumping onto a sinking ship.

      1. Chriama*

        I think you’re conflating 2 questions.
        To OP5 — I think it’s a valid reason to leave, and you should probably start searching now rather than later.
        1) Job searches take time, so you should look before the commute becomes so unbearable you jump ship without carefully considering your options.
        2) If there are problems now, who’s to say you won’t get moved to the new facility and then laid off again?
        3) Is managament happy to keep you on indefinitely at this far away location? If they hired you for a facility that won’t be opening, can they afford to keep you?

    5. Jamie*

      Agree about not jumping ship for the same wage, unless in a really untenable position. And by wage I mean everything in the comp package that matters to me.

      How happy I am at a given job always has a number figure. If I’m miserable I would consider jumping for less if I could still manage my bills. If I’m pretty unhappy or stagnant I’d consider jumping for equal money (or even slightly less for the purple unicorn of opportunities.) The happier and more satisfied I am professionally the bigger the percentage to get me to consider it.

      And for my job the days vary so much I need to feel a certain way for a significant stretch for it to count – because on a bad day I’d jump for $1 and a hug…on a good day you couldn’t pay me to leave.

      1. Dan*

        I’ve been through those exercises before (and constantly still do them). I’m considering leaving my current job to relocate (well, it’s not the job I’m trying to leave, it’s the high COL area.) But the thing is, I like my job, and it treats me well. Switching jobs, although into my “dream” field (snark, snark) would actually mean a decrease in my day-to-day quality of life. Would my outside-of-work life happiness increase as much in return? I’m not so sure.

        I won’t be able to move for much of a pay increase, so it all depends on how things shake out outside of work. Since that’s such as huge unknown (and the work stuff is pretty much a known) I think I have to stay put.

        If I hated my job, I’d bail in ten seconds.

  3. Seal*

    #3 – What you describe is common for academia, although the part about not paying certain fees is a bit weird. I am an academic librarian at a large public university. We get a set amount of travel money each year to attend conferences, etc.; those of us who do what is considered administrative travel related to our positions also get reimbursed. For the most part we are required to pay out of pocket up front and get reimbursed. We are required to turn in either a receipt showing a zero balance or a credit card statement showing what you paid for that particular travel expense. Reimbursements are generally based on the GSA per diem rates, although there is some leeway for hotels (for some cities the GSA per diem would only be enough for a fleabag hotel – you are allowed a bit more money for better housing). The one exception to paying out of pocket and getting reimbursed is transportation. You can charge plane tickets directly to the university if you set it up in advance, and you can use a university vehicle for in-state travel.

    Unfortunately there is rarely enough money to cover all conference travel, despite the fact that conference attendance and involvement in professional associations is a requirement for tenure and promotion. Most of us wind up paying a fair amount out of pocket every year. Such is life in academia.

    1. Melissa*

      Conference travel is definitely one of my least favorite things about academia, if not THE least favorite. I hate the hassle, I hate saving receipts, I hate waiting for weeks to get reimbursed and I hate that I am always at least a little out of pocket every year for what’s essentially professional development and required for the field. The networking is usually nice.

    2. Cucumber*

      Whatever you’re out of pocket, that’s related to your career, take off your taxes as an unreimbursed job expense.

  4. mdc*

    For #4 it’s definitely not rude to withdraw if the job is not as advertised. And I would be worried that the finances not being stable might lead to your hours being cut later on as well.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      This isn’t a case of a job not being as advertised. This is a case of the OP not bring comfortable with the compensation package hinted at for the job. You are right that it is rude and inconsiderate not to withdraw if she isn’t able to accept the job. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that this wasn’t as advertised. That indicates the company did something wrong. No. The company posted a job opening, just like many companies do, and did not specify that the compensation was hourly.

      1. mdc*

        I tend to take full time as meaning salaried or fixed paid hours but that’s my own bias given the types of roles I am applying for. My concern with hourly pay in this situation would be that unless there was a guarantee of hours per week, then I would suspect the hours may vary thus not be reliably fulltime as advertised. And I commented that it would not be rude in my view to withdraw, not that it would be rude not to withdraw.

        1. blu*

          I didn’t see anything that says this isn’t full time, just that it’s hourly. Hourly doesn’t necessarily equate to part time. In white collar jobs it usually (but not always) just goes with being non-exempt.

  5. mdc*

    I just wanted to share some less than optimal wording I received in a rejection email. I have had similar sentiments before in these emails but it’s usually in a little more subtle:
    “We appreciate your interest in working for XYZ. Due to the high calibre of candidate applications received, we regret to inform you that we will not be moving forward with your application.”
    Another one I received did a better job:
    “Unfortunately, we regret to advise you that on this occasion your application has not been successful. After carefully considering all applications we have chosen to progress with candidates that most closely matched our requirements from a skills and experience perspective. ”
    It really does matter how you convey the “thanks but no thanks” message!

      1. AnonyMouse*

        I could be wrong, but I think the reason the second seems better is that the first refers to a general “calibre” of candidates, and the second references skills and experience requirements. It’s definitely a subtle distinction, but the first could come across as calling the applicant a lower quality worker overall than those who are still being considered, and the second could just mean they’re missing some highly specific skill or have slightly less experience. That said, I personally wouldn’t react too differently to these two messages.

        1. mdc*

          Yes this is how I read it too. But overall I shouldn’t be so bothered, it’s all just a means to the same end!

        2. OfficePrincess*

          I read the first one as “all of the candidates are great but we can’t take them all,” which I guess is more proof that there’s no point in trying to dissect every word in a rejection letter.

    1. Artemesia*

      ‘Your application has not been successful’ just seems needlessly rude to me — I think they are equally insulting. But ‘not been successful’ is ‘hey you lose, loser.’ in tone to me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I find that wording really rude too. It also implies “successful” is “we offer you a job.” Maybe “successful” is “we mutually determine whether we’re right for each other.” Blech.

        That said, mdc, this comment thread is totally off-topic for the post :)

  6. Jessa*

    Honestly, regarding the wedding, this is a couple of hours at what I am going to guess is probably a Jewish wedding (I do not believe Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus separate people, but they might, I’m pretty sure most Christian denominations don’t, but I could be wrong,) I have an issue with the comments about “the women and the support staff,” it’s nice that you’re the only female Doctor in the practise right now, but what’s so horrible about spending a couple of hours with the other women from the office, they’re not separating you out from your colleagues because they think less of you or your position.

    I agree with Alison that if you don’t want to go you shouldn’t, but I’m feeling a little meh about the idea that a wedding is a place to bond and not to celebrate the bride and groom. It appears that this person has only two kids and this is the second wedding, personally I’d go and well, suck it up for a few hours, because do you really want to send a message that one daughter was more important than the other? Over a difference in religion? Also it’s okay for the men to bond with the male support staff, but not for the female doctor to bond with the women support staff? That smacks a bit of double standard to me. And I get there are reasons why, when we live in a patriarchy that there are issues with this. But I’m not sure this is the hill you want to die on about it.

    tl:dr, It may be awkward, but it’s not a long time and it’s the last marriage you’ll have to attend of his kids. Is it that hard to deal with one day?

    1. MK*

      I agree that the OP comes across a bit classist and sexist, as in “I and A Doctor, I don’t want to be put with the secretaries and the housewives”. Also, I don’t understand what kind of “bonding” the OP imagines happened in the previous wedding; it’s much more likely her male co-workers spend the time discussing the wedding itself (since it sounds like something out of the ordinary) or exchanging generalities than that they took the opportunity of their boss’s daughter’s wedding to seriously network with eachother.

      But I don’t think the OP should go, since she doesn’t feel comfortable. Saying that you have a previous obligation doesn’t send the message that you think one daughter is more important; any reasonable person understands that the wedding of a colleague’s child is not high in anyone’s social priorities.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Definitely agree the post could be read as classist, but it could also be that when you’re invited to an outside-work social event with coworkers, you typically expect to be able to spend some time with the coworkers you know best. It sounds like she has the closest bonds with the other doctors at the practice, and so could be worried that it will be awkward or not enjoyable to sit with a bunch of people she doesn’t know very well (and she mentioned in the question that last time she felt like she had to “entertain” the wives at her table), while the other doctors get to hang out together. For people who are kind of introverted, it can be stressful to be seated with people you don’t know well at a social event, especially if you have several close colleagues there, but aren’t allowed to spend time with them. Either way, if she’s uncomfortable, she has the right not to go!

        1. Vladimir*

          I agree with this, it is not comfortable to spend time like this with people you do not know. But even if she is classist it is her right. Perhaps it is not nice to be, but it still. Generally people should be able to decline to attend social event if they do not feel comfortable attending for any reason (the reason perhaps says something about the person, but thats different matter).
          btw. nowhere in the artilce it is mentioned the wives are housewives.

          1. MK*

            No, I know it doesn’t. It’s just the overall vibe I get from the letter, as if the OP considers spending time with these people beneath her. Maybe I am reading too much into it.

            1. Vladimir*

              Well I agree on that, I also get the a little bit of feeling that LW feels support staff and wifes to be under her. On the other hand she was on one wedding and knows these people, so perhaps she knows from experienece that this not the company she likes to psend her time with.

            2. Elysian*

              I don’t know about “beneath” her. I could see this happening in my office environment. There’s a divide between the staff and the “management” – people won’t even sit at the same tables in the lunchroom with the other. One day I sat with our staff because there weren’t any seats (I’d be considered ‘management’) and it was awkward for everyone. They just stopped what they were talking about, and I think we all felt like we were breaking office protocol. Maybe it shouldn’t feel this way, but I can understand if the OP feels like it is.

            3. anon123*

              That’s the vibe I got as well. Also, it’s kind of strange that she feels uncomfortable around her support staff, who presumably work very closely with her. I’ve worked in hospitals for a very long time and most doctors get to know their support staff very well during the course of the normal business day so socializing with them after hours wouldn’t be as awkward as she’s making it out to be.

              1. AnonyMouse*

                Fair enough! I haven’t worked in a hospital/medical setting so it’s possible she does know them really well. I was thinking back to places I’ve worked as an entry level or lower level employee, where it wouldn’t be weird at all for a more senior person not to know me very well. They certainly wouldn’t have felt uncomfortable interacting with me in general, but it might have been awkward for both of us to be seated at one table at an outside social event when they had closer colleagues there who were all seated at another. And I was also thinking more about seating her with her colleagues’ wives, who presumably she’s only met on a few occasions. This is just a personality thing, though – if it was me, I would be cool with sitting with whoever!

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t think she’s saying she doesn’t feel comfortable around them. She’s saying she has a problem with being separated with the colleagues she generally works with on the basis of sex. Which is totally reasonable.

                1. Jessa*

                  Yes it’s reasonable, but that doesn’t seem to be the actual reason she doesn’t want to go. I get that female Doctors can be one down in an office relationship, but to be so uncomfortable sitting with your subordinates and the families of your coworkers? That’s an issue that needs to be resolved also. She generally works with these other women too. Notice she pretty much said she wouldn’t have been upset if she’d gotten to sit with the male office employees.

                  If it had been “don’t like sitting in religious atmospheres where they separate people,” I’d have been okay about it mostly. But the whole bit about can’t sit for a couple of hours with what is possibly a large part of staff – clerical, maybe some of the nurses, techs, etc. She really can’t stand the wives of all her coworkers either? It does really strike me as classist and maybe a little sexist too. Because if she really disliked ALL those people including the staff ones, I’m surprised she’s not talking about finding another job. She has to work with those people every single day.

                2. fposte*

                  @Jessa–“Notice she pretty much said she wouldn’t have been upset if she’d gotten to sit with the male office employees.”

                  I don’t think she did pretty much say that, actually. I think she wanted to sit with her work colleagues, and I don’t think she’d have had a problem sitting with support staff of both genders as long as she also got to sit with her colleagues.

            4. Decimus*

              There may be another issue at play. A lot of female physicians get used to male physicians treating them as “second class” simply because they’re women – there is still a lot of sexism in medicine, at least in certain areas. So even though it’s not intentional here, the OP may feel sitting with the wives and support staff will somehow reinforce in her colleague’s mind that she isn’t a “real” physician somehow.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I am betting this is the case here. Not a big issue as a stand alone but in combination with other oversights, it becomes a deal.

                I did not read it as she has a problem sitting with wives and support staff but that she is tired of the subtle bias she sees around her. A secondary issue brings us back to birds of a feather, people tend to be more comfortable around people who they have things in common with. It could be two issues running concurrently.

                It depends on what you think, OP. If you can focus on the wedding itself and somehow balance out in your mind that the boss is sharing what he has going on in life, then go. I really don’t think that you are going to be able to make a statement for women by not going. All they will see is that you missed the wedding and “it’s too bad you weren’t there” type of comments will follow. If you want to advocate for women’s rights there are more effective ways to do that.

                This means taking on a dual thinking approach where work is work and weddings are personal life. Sometimes we over look things in people’s personal lives that we would not over look in the work place.
                At some point it could work out to be advantageous that you know your coworkers’ families. “I met your wife, Charlene, at the wedding. She’s a lovely woman.” [Only if it’s true, of course.] If it’s bonding you are looking for never underestimate the power of giving a sincere compliment about a person’s loved ones. That is one example. There are many ways that this experience can build on itself for years to come.

                OTH, if you think about this and still don’t want to go, I cannot say I blame you. I am not sure I would go, if I was in your shoes.

            5. Jessa*

              I agree with you MK, that’s kind of why it bugged me. It didn’t seem the OP was objecting because of the separation per se, but because “sitting with the wives and women employees,” and I’m not sure why the OP seems to think entertaining the table is her job.

              1. Jamie*

                I see this and I think there is some missed communication on this point. I think some people found the way it was worded somewhat condescending – and it could easily be read that way – the entertaining part in particular….and that’s what some of the comments were referring to. At least mine. I think it’s totally reasonable that someone wouldn’t want to be segregated based on gender in any event.

                For me, it’s a religious thing and if I wanted to go and could participate within the confines of the hosts religions parameters that would be one thing. If I wouldn’t be comfortable with that I’d politely decline.

                The fact that the objectionable (to many of us) segregation is religious based and relates to a personal function makes it so sticky. Because even though it may operate like a work function to the co-workers, it’s not in the sense that they are just invited…the event isn’t being planned with the workplace in mind, nor should it be.

                The situation sucks and I’d be uncomfortable personally, but I think the only question is if the OP wants to go under these parameters.

                The boss isn’t being rude by having his kids’ weddings in the customs of his faith.
                He wasn’t being rude by inviting the office as there is no indication there will be backlash if they don’t attend. OP and others aren’t being rude if they decline to come.

                He can’t be expected to change his religious customs for employees so his only recourse to avoid this would have been to not invite them at all, which I think would have been the better choice.

                I do think this is far enough outside the norm that he should have really questioned if he should invite people from work to the wedding. Most people can deal with and some even enjoy observing customs of other religions as long as they aren’t pressured to participate in a religious way…but when you’re clearly in territory where you can reasonably assume many people will be uncomfortable you might not want to invite everyone as if they were all cool with it.

                If you were having a clothing optional wedding it would be the same deal so not just religious – anything which common sense dictates some people would have real issues with.

                But so many people do this, I don’t know if people get offended by not being invited. (I don’t, but I am not the standard bearer on this.)

                1. CEMgr*

                  It’s the disconnect between integrated professional life and segregated private life that feels awkward. And it underscores why work colleagues shouldn’t be invited to a wedding unless they actually are real friends. Real friends would already know and accept the customs, AND they wouldn’t all be put at a work table.

                  Here we have a batch of work people showing up, and getting sorted out. And the one female physician gets segregated from all the male physicians….who network and build their informal, social ties, which mean a lot. (No, they will not be talking about the wedding!) The female physician is frozen out from even the possibility of building those networking ties at this event. Her choices are to go and be gracious and social in an area segregated from all her closest colleagues….because of the way she was born….or not go. Neither would feel good to me.

                2. Chriama*

                  I bet it didn’t cross the boss’s mind because he’s male, so he got to sit with his colleagues. Not getting to talk to the only female physician is very different from not getting to talk to any physician.

                3. MK*

                  CEMgr, obviously we have been attending very different kinds of weddings; I have never found them prime occasions for networking, what with the music, the toasts, the couple making an entrance, etc. In any case, I doubt the OP’s colleagues will build such strong informal, social ties and exclude her during the couple of hours of this one-off event. These people have worked together every day for years and they probably interact socially on a regular basis.

          2. Illini02*

            If she is classist its her right? So if I get invited to a wedding and say I shouldn’t have to sit with anyone of another race or who makes less money, thats my right? I mean, sure she can decline, but to me she comes off sounding really bad

            1. Vladimir*

              I mean everybody has a right to be a jerk. Thats not ilegal, doesn`t mean one should excesise this right. But of course if one does it reflects on the person in certain way and other people are in full right to dislike the person because of it. Even beeing racist (in your head) is not really ilegal, showing racism rightfully is (at least where I live).

              1. Vladimir*

                Oh and I forgot to say, of course saying it is different matter. In your example, if I do not want to attend an event because there are people of different race (which of course makes me a massive jerk), I should not say it like that and decline politely. That said classism however unpleasant is really not on the same level as racism.

            2. AnonyMouse*

              Not that it’s her right to be classist (which I agree would make her sound awful), but that it’s her right to decline a wedding invitation for any reason – including the seating arrangements, petty as that may be. If she does choose not to go, I think she should just say she’s not available but wishes them all the best.

            3. Chuchundra*

              People are spending a lot effort to get offended over something that is pretty normal. If you go to a work function, you’d like to be seated with your peers. Socializing with your subordinates can be pretty awkward all around.

              1. illini02*

                I’m not offended, just saying that she comes across sounding like she thinks the is better than others. I don’t care what she does.

            4. Colette*

              Absolutely! If you are at a social occasion, you can absolutely refuse to sit with anyone you don’t want to sit with. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be social or work-related consequences, though.

            5. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I disagree that she’s being classist or a jerk, and I’m frankly shocked that people are reading it that way. She objects to being separated from colleagues on the basis of sex, which is a totally reasonable stance to take. Moreover, assuming this is an Orthodox Jewish wedding, the reason they separate by sex is pretty damn offensive to a lot of people (and I say this as a Jew, albeit a non-Orthodox one).

              1. fposte*

                There’s also a lot of problematic history here, with things like “doctors” and “nurses” changing rooms rather than just male and female, that identify being a doctor with being male and being support staff with being female and work against the advancement of women who aren’t support staff. While that isn’t the motivation in this case, the fact that it ends up replicating the whole pink-collar ghetto thing would set my teeth on edge too.

              2. Vladimir*

                I would just like to clarify, I didnt call the OP a jerk (at least I didn´t mean to), I was talking more in theory. If she doesnt like this because of segregation based on sex, or for her career and networking reasons it is of course absolutly fine.

              3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                I was just going to say this: I’m flabbergasted by people objecting to the OP’s position.

                I think the OP is *correctly* interpreting that she is being seated in a lesser/secondary/lower-class section. Women *are* being treated as less than/less important/lower class in this scenario. What’s offensive isn’t her reaction; the situation is inherently offensive.

                Would I, in general, object to being seated with the more junior members of my organization’s staff? Of course not. But if I were the only woman in management, and I was seated with the admins instead of with the other managers on the basis of my sex? I would absolutely be raising hell (and not just for me, but because that situation is effed up in so many ways).

                1. Chriama*

                  At a work function (even something like a company Christmas party where spouses were invited), I would agree. This is a social event. In smalll companies (or small departments), people socialize outside of work. Don’t go if you don’t want to, but this event on its own isn’t designed to marginalize her or devalue her professional qualifications.

                2. fposte*

                  It doesn’t have to be designed for the purpose to achieve it, though. Intent isn’t the only way marginalization occurs. (And I agree with the people who say this isn’t really a social event.)

                3. Observer*

                  No, she is NOT “correctly identifying” ANYTHING. I’ve yet to go to a wedding with separate seating where the women’s’ section is less desirable than the men’s section. And, it’s kind of hard to do that when it’s one large ballroom with tables around the sides and divifer down the middle.

                  I see a lot of good reasons why someone might not want to go, if they aren’t used to it, or whatever. But let’s please not make up stuff.

                4. Melissa*

                  Observer – the physical seating doesn’t have to be inferior in and of itself to communicate the message. I also guessed that this was an Orthodox Jewish wedding, because I don’t know of any other religious weddings that separate the men and women so extremely – perhaps conservative Muslim weddings? I don’t know. But in either case the religious separation is *definitely* a case of women being viewed as inferior and subordinate to men. It’s not about the actual physical setup of the wedding; it’s about the cultural and social reasons for the divide.

                5. Observer*

                  Melissa, I find it very interesting that you are telling me what Orthodox Jews believe, considering that I happen to be an observant Orthodox Jew, and you are not. It may feel inferior to you – and I’m in no position to argue that, as your feelings are your feelings. But to tell me that this is the intent and reason borders on the offensive, simply because you are essentially telling me that you know more than me about my religion – and about which I am undoubtedly more educated than you are.

              4. Observer*

                I think that lot of people are reacting that way because of the way she describes the situation. “entertaining the wives”? Really?

                But, ultimately, from what she says she’s making way too much of this. Just don’t go – it doesn’t sound like the boss is going to hold it against her. And, assuming that this is an Orthodox Jewish wedding, you can be pretty sure that her male colleagues are not doing a lot of “bonding” at the reception – the setup generally just doesn’t work very well for that.

                1. Liz T*

                  I also read it that way. I think some people aren’t really putting themselves in the OP’s shoes.

                  I’ve always had guy friends as well as women friends, and I hate it when parties even naturally drift into men in one room, women in the other. (If the men and the women inherently have totally different things to talk about, it is not the group for me.)

                2. Traveler*

                  I’m completely on OPs side here, regarding this being an unfair chance for her colleagues to bond that she is being barred from because of her sex, and I get that we need to focus on the fact that the people she’s being seated with aren’t doctors. But this phrasing of “entertaining the wives” raises an eyebrow for me too, especially when its followed with a description of them being “lovely, but”. It comes across as dismissive. I’ll give OP benefit of the doubt though.

              5. Liz T*

                Thanks AAM, I totally agree! If it’s a group you don’t normally socialize with, it really really sucks to be excluded from the group you DO socialize with because of your gender. I would hate this too–I remember how dejected I felt having to sit upstairs at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah. (Then a man from the temple came up to talk to us and I wanted to kick him out. If I can’t go down there you can’t come up here!)

                Also, some Muslim weddings are in fact separated by gender. Possibly other religions do it too, I don’t know. (As a Jew I immediately thought Ultra-Orthodox Jewish, but it could easily be a different religion.)

              6. illini02*

                Here is what I don’t get. If this was a letter (or a comment) and this many people said that the person in question is coming off racist or sexist, I feel like you would say something to the effect of “If this many people see it this way, maybe there is something to it”. however because many people say its being classist or elitist, its looked at like we are all wrong in our opinion. If this many people think this, maybe its not as cut and dry as some people like you and Mike C are making it out to be.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  There might be something to it, although I don’t read it that way AT ALL. But that doesn’t make it acceptable to treat a letter-writer rudely or without respect and civility.

                2. illini02*

                  Thats fair. I don’t think most people came off that way, just saying that it comes off a bit entitled. Granted there were a few blatantly rude comments, but I feel most were pretty fair, to begin. They maybe got a bit more heated in others rubuttles.

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          Yes, I don’t know if the OP is being classist or not, but I think its annoying to go to a wedding and not be able to hang out with the guests that you want to hang out with. I was even a bit grumpy when I went to a recent wedding and was assigned to a table where I didn’t get to sit with the friends I wanted to hang out with – which I totally know is not really reasonable, but it would have been even more annoying if I didn’t get to even get up and go talk with them after dinner!

          Hmm- I’m going to a wedding in 2 weeks. I hope the couple has open seating!

          1. anon123*

            I thought that was part of going to weddings though? Sitting with random people you barely know and making awkward small talk. At least that’s always been my experiences with weddings. This person has a leg up because at least she already knows these people.

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              That’s the part of going to weddings where you don’t have any fun! Weddings that are actually fun to go to involve hanging out with my friends all night :)

              1. TK*

                I’m from a small town, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding with assigned seating. This would greatly bother me.

                1. TK*

                  Actually, thinking back, I have– but the seating was assigned in such a way that only people who knew each other would be sitting together.

            2. Liz T*

              Yes but you’re ignoring the other part of what Monodon said–OP isn’t even allowed to go say hi to her colleagues. THEY don’t have to make awkward small talk with random people, because they get to sit with each other.

              OP isn’t even going to this wedding because she knows the bride. She’s going (or not going) to the wedding because she knows a man she won’t even get to talk to.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I remember when I was a child and my parents went to a wedding that involved a looong trip. At the reception, my parents and I ended up sitting with the photographer in the corner. I am not sure how that happened. But I remember my father saying, “Okay, we are leaving right now.” His thinking was we had gone such a long way and put so much effort into getting there, if we could not sit with family there was no point to staying. On the surface this looked like he did not want to sit with the photographer. In reality we were so far across the room from family that it was like we were not even there.(What are the odds, 75 plus family members in a room and we are not sitting with any of them?) So we left.

            This is one of several wedding horror stories. I am not a fan of big weddings. It could be that OP is just not a fan of big weddings also, which would be another reason for not wanting to go.

            1. EM*

              Ugh, weddings. Tim Gunn said on one recent episode of Project Runway that he hates weddings too, so we’re in good company. :)

      2. alma*

        I didn’t read it as classist. As someone who has worked in varying support roles over the course of my career, I 100% understand where OP is coming from. Many professional women experience the phenomenon where they have the same education, experience and salary as their male peers, yet find that they are still expected to do administrative or “caretaking” tasks like cleaning up, taking notes or providing food. So-called “women’s work” is as valuable as any other kind of work, but being shunted into that role when it is NOT what you signed up to do, and when it’s something you know damn well is not expected of your male peers, is extremely demoralizing.

        While being seated with the wives/support staff at a wedding isn’t quite the same, I can very well understand why it raised similar hackles for OP.

        1. Mike C.*

          This is how I read it as well. She’s the only one that doesn’t get to sit with her peers simply because she’s a woman. I know a number of professional women who would find this to be highly irritating, and rightfully so.

          1. tesyaa*

            But… but… the male doctors don’t get to sit with HER. THEY are also being prevented from sitting with one of their peers as well. THEY should complain. Oh wait, maybe this practice hires mostly males as doctors, and mostly women as support staff??

            1. Ezri*

              I believe OP said she’s the only female physician of the group – that makes it much more awkward in my mind, because she will be the only physician separated out, while the support staff is more balanced. That could be uncomfortable for anyone, even if gender wasn’t involved, to be the only one of a group of peers who has to sit somewhere else. The fact that it’s *because* of her gender makes it even worse.

            2. LBK*

              That doesn’t really make sense. Nothing wrong is really happening to the male colleagues – unless one of them is particularly astute/empathetic or good friends with the OP, I don’t see how it’s their responsibility to realize what the manager is doing to the OP and call it out.

              1. Natalie*

                In a broad sense, I think it behooves any of us in a privileged position to try and recognize and name instances where we’re benefiting from privilege. I try, however ineffectually, to do that as a white person.

                That said, this is so far off of so many people’s radar, that I don’t think the lack of it necessarily makes the male doctors unusual in any way. Most folks are pretty oblivious to this kind of thing.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think, though, that there’s nothing to really call out here, for the invitees. This is how some religions work. You shouldn’t “call out” your colleagues’ religion. But you can certainly decline to attend an event because you don’t like those practices, and should be able to do that without being criticized as classist for doing so.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Yeah, no one is going to be able to revamp a whole set of religious traditions and practices. There could be plenty of people there that feel the practice is antiquated. But they are powerless to change it.

          2. Camellia*

            Separate but equal. The back of the bus isn’t far from the front of the bus. Why should anyone mind?

      3. JB*

        I don’t think this is classist at all, or sexist. Nothing in this letter says that she thinks she’s better than the wives or support staff. These employees aren’t close with the daughter. They go to these weddings to support the boss and to bond in a social setting. It’s the same reason why business associates go golfing together. That kind of social bonding pays off down the road in your professional life.

        And I don’t know if this problem also exists in the medical field, but at least in the legal field, if a woman works in a firm of mostly male attorneys, she has to be careful to not spend all her time with the female support staff in order to avoid be considered basically support staff herself. [Yes, not in every firm, but in a lot of places] In a world where women with equal positions to their coworkers are still often expected to take notes at meetings, arrange office social events, make the coffee, etc., it’s still a struggle to be seen as occupying an equal position in the company/firm/practice. It’s usually not an intentional thing, it’s not the men verbalize the thought “Oh, this is a woman task, she’s a woman, she should do it, and I’ll give John this case to work on while she’s making copies.” But it’s there subconsciously, and it affects how you’re treated. So many women feel like they have to avoid doing anything to encourage their male colleagues from associating them with support staff.

        In some of my jobs in the past, I’ve always been careful not to spend too much time hanging out with support staff because I saw what happened to those who did. Having worked those jobs myself in the past, I definitely don’t think I’m “above” support staff. But I didn’t go to law school and take on massive debt so I could serve as an extra admin when I was the only woman in the room. Fortunately, where I work now, the female attorneys outnumber the male attorneys by a large margin, so it’s not an issue. And the coworker I spend the most time with and am closest with is my secretary.

        That said, at a social event, if I had to choose between sitting with the attorneys and sitting with the secretaries, I’d choose the attorneys. I’m close with my secretary but not the rest of them, and I have more in common and more to talk about with my fellow attorneys because we spend more time working together, have similar jobs, etc. Why wouldn’t I rather spend time with my peers than wives (who I don’t know nearly as well and aren’t as comfortable with) and the people who report to me (who, let’s face it, are not going to be as relaxed with the boss around)?

        1. Incognito for a post*

          “Oh, this is a woman task, she’s a woman, she should do it, and I’ll give John this case to work on while she’s making copies.”

          I was having at home issues that seemed to have no end. My boss got involved. He started to say to me “My wife at home handles all that, why don’t you ask your wi…”
          He never completed the word “wife”.
          His voice trailed off as it dawned on him I am that wife at home.

          These thing happen so fast and so thoughtlessly. It’s an ingrained way of thinking.

        2. EM*

          I wonder if she also doesn’t get to spend as much time with her male colleagues in her day-to-day work, since she’s probably busy with patients, returning calls, etc. And they are doing the same. So the opportunities to actually bond with them and create a good impression are somewhat limited. So it has to be a bit of a bummer to have a separation like that.

      4. Jamie*

        I had the same read on it – also don’t understand why it’s being seen as a missed professional opportunity because it’s a social event.

        It would be rude to make it about business and I’ve been to weddings with work people and work talk has always been strictly off limits. I get there may be social benefits to spending time outside of work, but you would have benefits by getting to know the other staff and their wives as well.

        Frankly I’m stumped at sex segregated dancing. Do men dance with men and women with women? Sure I’ve seen woman dancing with girlfriends, etc. in a group at clubs but I’ve never heard of an orchestrated event where it’s the custom that sexes only dance with each other. The men I know it’s hard enough for their wives to drag them out on the dance floor as it is – I can’t imagine they would decide to do it together in a group so this may be a cultural thing.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, I think in this case it’s less of a social event and more of a work event. OP and her colleagues aren’t being invited because they are the boss’s 5 closest co-workers or whatever – he’s inviting his whole office and seating them all together. It doesn’t sound like they have close personal friendships outside of work.

          1. Chriama*

            He’s inviting the whole office because it’s a small office. It’s not unheard-of to invite colleagues to personal functions.

            1. Natalie*

              Right, meaning that he’s NOT inviting them because they’re all such good friends. Thus, I think it’s more of a work function than a social one.

            2. Jamie*

              I know it’s done – I guess I just hate the thought of a couple wedding being considered a work function for others. But I get what you’re all saying, and it makes sense – it’s like happy hour with an open bar in a way.

        2. Observer*

          Yes, the men dance with men and the women dance with women. The men almost never do any pair type dances – or anything but circle type dances or a few guys showing off / acrobatics and the like. The women do the circle stuff but they’ll also do some types of pair stuff and line dances etc.

      5. Anonsie*

        I actually came in here juuust to comment on this, because I knew her letter was really going to rub some people the wrong way but there’s definitely something to this complaint. Normally, yes, you should be able to hang out with your support staff without it being a big deal, but this also has a lot of pit falls when you are talking about medicine. There is an extreme amount of hierarchy in health care, and female physicians/scientists/whathaveyou are constantly being nudged down into taking care of everyone else and not being involved in the actual conversations that inform everyone about what’s going on and drive decisions later. You end up having to toe the line of hierarchy to get the respect and inclusion you deserve at work, even if you don’t like it (and this is something that grates at me in particular, as the daughter of a maid and a janitor) because otherwise you get placed on a lower rung and that’s it. You’re not in the group, decisions are made without you, etc.

        It’s obviously not a sin to associate with your support staff under any circumstances, but being in a situation where the only woman in the practice is with the other staffers and wives is actually a very realistic thing to be worried about. Not in all settings, but in many of them. And all your colleagues socializing and talking shop together without you is something that’s going to be concerning.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Another excellent point. The culture of medicine. I have friends that are nurses and the commentary over the years has been “Don’t question the doctor” or “Don’t bother the doctor” and so on. To the point that it sounds like a god-like status.
          I noticed now that people are no longer saying “the” doctor, they just say “doctor” as if that is his name from birth. “Don’t bother doctor”.

          1. Chinook*

            “I have friends that are nurses and the commentary over the years has been “Don’t question the doctor” or “Don’t bother the doctor” and so on. To the point that it sounds like a god-like status.”

            Man, I just wish my SIL and her mom were even half like this. They are nurses and no family gathering is complete without atleast one of them spending time pointing out that they know more than doctors, they work harder than doctors and the doctors never seem to be there. The last they would ever use to describe an MD is “respect.” Too bad there doesn’t seem be any middle ground.

            1. Natalie*

              My sense is that the “at-work” persona/attitude and the “home” persona/attitude are a full 180 from each other.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  How true. We have to vent some how.

                  As an aside: Some of the nurses I know DO give better advice than the doctors.

                  Doctor: “Oh your neck hurts? Here’s a pill.”

                  Nurse: “Oh your neck hurts? Is your computer monitor at eye level home and at work? No? Raise it up, that should help.”

            2. Anonsie*

              Depends on the culture of your hospital (and region) as well. I’ve worked in some where the physicians throw their weight around and treat everyone like crap, and it breeds this type of running “the doctors are idiots” attitude with everyone else. At institutions where this type of thing is less tolerated, you still get a few of those types but for the most part the other staff/nurses/techs/etc have a lot of camaraderie with the doctors.

          2. Anonsie*

            Oh yeah. My role varies quite a bit, but it’s usually supposed to be collaborative with the physicians, not purely supportive. I’ve learned to reinforce this at every possible opportunity, because that line in the sand that would be more or less inconsequential in most places makes a massive difference here. And once you’re a helper instead of a resource to someone, that’s it. You will never be involved in another important conversation and your input will never be considered again.

    2. UK Anon*

      It wasn’t so much this that I was thinking of, but that if OP was the only one not going, she’s also going to be left out of any after-wedding bonding that continues in the office, regardless of what happens at the ceremony (“wasn’t the dress gorgeous? didn’t you enjoy the cake?” &c &c) so if she’s worried about being left out of her male co-workers ‘bonding’, this can only add to the problem.

      That said, no reason she has to go – just something else to factor in.

      1. Loose Seal*

        That doesn’t sound like bonding to me; it’s just conversation. So if they are talking about how good the cake was, couldn’t OP just ask about what flavor it was and what it looked like? She’d be participating in the conversation and demonstrating interest about the wedding that she (so sadly) had to miss due to a schedule conflict.

          1. Loose Seal*

            My point is that OP isn’t left out of conversation about the event later on at the office if she doesn’t attend the wedding. Plus, I’m skeptical about how much bonding is actually taking place at the wedding.

            1. Traveler*

              Have you ever been the only person in a group of people that didn’t attend something that everyone else did? It can be socially isolating – because even if you can ask for descriptions and smile and laugh along, there will be insider understanding between those that went. Now whether or not this wedding will be or not, I don’t know, but the possibility is there.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There can be some level of bonding through shared experiences. Sure, that can vary from group to group. But in some groups having experiences in common does ease future conversations.

      2. Jamie*

        Wouldn’t they all get cake and see the dress? Not trying to be pedantic and I get that she’d be left out of their table talk at the wedding – but after the fact wouldn’t there be more conversation if you didn’t sit together.

        And again maybe this is cultural but I’ve never, ever heard men doing a post-game review of a wedding like this – certainly not about the dress.

        I’m not advocating the separation – sounds awful to me as someone not familiar with this custom – just saying I don’t think sitting separately precludes after wedding small talk…and not sure that’s super valuable from a work perspective anyway.

        Maybe there is social currency to sitting with people at a wedding that I don’t understand.

    3. Students*

      Religions that separate out the sexes do so because they do believe that women are inferior to men from a religious and moral standpoint. I’m not sure whether you’re just unfamiliar with the practice or trying to be politically correct, but if you actually examine the religious doctrines you’ll find they’re really very clear-cut on the point. If you ask point-blank about the practice, the “standard” explanation given is that women are separated out from men in religious contexts because women corrupt men. The story of Adam and Eve is generally invoked for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

      This practice occurs in sub-factions of nearly every major religion. Judaism gets the most press about it in America, but it also occurs in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism, for example. All these religions have some sects that practice sex segregation, and others that don’t, but it’s not hard to find modern examples in any of them. Further, nearly every religion of any appreciable size only allows men to become religious leaders; some only bar women from high-ranking positions and certain religious ceremonies, and others bar women from holding any position above any man. Different sects implement these practices to varying degrees; it’s unusual to implement them at weddings in the US generally, but very common to implement in less public settings.

      These are the facts about sex segregation in religion. Lots of women take it as an article of faith that we’re inherently inferior to men, and that belief has played a nontrivial role in ongoing sex discrimination around the world. In my personal situation, I feel strongly otherwise and it’s played a large role in why I’m an Atheist.

      1. Vladimir*

        I think you are right in what you say here. Basically all religions see women as being inferior, at least in their most conservative approach, and there are sadly still men (and women) who agree with this. However I am willing to bet that majority of religious people (at least in the west) currently do not agree with this approach to women, but still follow the traditions stemming from it, because it is a tradition. Thats what I think happened here. From the letter I do not think that LW`s boss sees her as inferior, he only follows the traditions. Saying that, as a fellow atheist, I would be very miffed if I was asked to sit away from my girlfriend (and women in general) as I am aganist segregation from religious reasons. So if i was put in simillar situation I would politely decline to attend.

        1. Vladimir*

          Just to clarify two points I mentioned, so the meaning is clear. I meant that most religious people follow only certain traditions of conservative faith such as wedding ones (apart form segregation also for ex. promise to obey, which I guess majority of wifes do not mean to keep) and such, not all of them. Also I have to stress I am aganist almost any segregation not only religious one.

        2. CH*

          Yes, I think you are right. If the OP’s boss truly believes women are inferior he probably wouldn’t have hired her as a physician. At least, she doesn’t seem to imply that he treats her differently from the male physicians at work. I think the family is just following a long standing religious tradition, which is their right, whether or not you agree with that tradition. (I don’t BTW.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            She is the only female doctor in the group. Hmmm. This does not prove or disprove anything but now that you mention it, I am noticing that she is the only female doctor there. I wonder how many doctors work in this group?

      2. MK*

        While what you say is mostly true as the theoretical background of this tradition, it is also completely irrelevant both to the original post and the point made by Jessa. The OP emphatically did not say that she objects to the segregation because it is an expression of religious misogyny, she said she resents not being able to socialise with her colleagues the doctors and being forced to spend the evening with their wives and the female support staff of her practice. That’s why people think she may be being classist and that maybe she should get over it and go to the wedding.

        1. the gold digger*

          It’s not classist – it’s not wrong – not to want to have to spend an evening hanging out with the spouses of the people you work with! If I had to attend a work-related event, I would want to spend time with my co-workers, whom I already know and with whom I would like to strengthen my relationships. I don’t know how it works in a doctors’ office, but in the corporate world, so much of what gets done is by relationship rather than by formal structure. The better my relationship with my boss or his peers or anyone else in the organization, the better my chances of being able to do a good job and to advance.

          Sort of related – remember Hilary Clinton’s cookie comment? There is nothing wrong with baking cookies, but even though she was not the one running, she was accomplished in her own right and she did not want to sit at the wives table. Sending a professional – especially one you work with – to the wives table is identifying her primarily as a woman and not as a professional and it is more or less keeping her out of the Boys’ Club.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            ” Sending a professional – especially one you work with – to the wives table is identifying her primarily as a woman and not as a professional and it is more or less keeping her out of the Boys’ Club.”


            1. MK*

              No, not this. The OP is not seated in the wives’ table, she is seated in the ”female employees plus female spouses” table, along with the other professional women who work for the father of the bride.

                1. MK*

                  Which brings us back to the classist issue. That’s what the OP seems to object to, that she won’t get to hobnob with the people who are on her level, not the inherent misogyny of gender segregation. Her male colleagues are not seated only with theirs peers either. They have to “entertain” the male support staff and, if the OP had a husband, they would have to do the same for her spouse.

          2. Chriama*

            The reason I see this differently is because this is a wedding, and those aren’t really regular occasions. There’s no evidence in this post that the boss’s attitude towards OP on a daily basis is problematic. If there was another female physician, she would sit with the OP — it just so happens that it’s not true in this case. If the boss invited the office to a weekly dinner where this segregation happened, I would agree that this is an issue — because now she’s actively being excluded from networking with her peers on a regular basis.
            I don’t think the OP sees herself as above the other women at the table(although some of her language is condescending, I know nuance is hard to get across in writing), but I also don’t think this is a big deal.

            1. fposte*

              But it’s not about the boss’s attitude. It’s about how she ends up presenting to everybody at this event and its effects.

              1. Chriama*

                But this is a wedding that coworkers happen to be invited to. It’s not a company function. This single event is not defining her in the eyes of her colleagues.

                1. fposte*

                  Of course it is. It’s not uniquely defining her, but everything you do in the presence of your colleagues defines you. That’s why we have discussions about what not to do with your co-workers in after-work drinks and socializing. It all does matter, and it all does define you.

                  It’s fine if the OP wants to say that she can take the hit for the day and goes, but it’s still a hit.

        2. Student*

          On the “class-ism” argument –

          I am a nuclear physicist. My company employs a wide range of people. In the “class” parlance, we have janitorial staff, administrative assistants, and unskilled union laborers on one end. We have lawyers, doctors, physicists, chemists, business managers, lobbyists on the other end. We have a bunch of technical, skilled laborer, and business staff in between.

          I would find it just as tedious to sit next to the unskilled union laborers as the lawyers in a wedding environment. I don’t have anything in common with most people who go into those professions. I am grateful that, at work, there are people who will deal with legal problems (lawyers) and people who will haul giant loads of heavy equipment (unskilled union laborer) and I try to be professionally courteous to both groups. I’d be most comfortable with other physicists; as we get farther from that professionally, I have less basis to hold up a conversation through an entire wedding.

          Perhaps it is genuinely hard for this professional doctor OP to relate to the lives and interests of the stay-at-home wives (and others) she’s going to be sitting with. I know that I have tried to hold pleasant conversations with stay-at-home wives, and I can’t manage it. I just don’t like the things that are central to a SAHM’s life, and the SAHMs that I’ve talked to generally dislike the things that are central to mine. I don’t have any objection to people opting to be SAHMs (I feel the same way about, say, painters or opera singers or hedge fund managers), I simply can’t relate to them on a very core level. No one is shocked when the SAHMs don’t really want to hear about the latest gadget I’ve been working on for my job, but everyone acts like I’m an ass if I don’t really take great interest in the latest round of pictures of a SAHM’s toddler dressed in a cat costume.

      3. Observer*

        “Religions that separate out the sexes do so because they do believe that women are inferior to men from a religious and moral standpoint”

        As a female in a religion that separates women and men, I can state with certainty that this is NOT true.

        “These are the facts about sex segregation in religion.”
        No, these are NOT the facts.

        And, while some women may see themselves as inferior, that is far from true of most of my female co-religionists. (Those that do have other issues that have nothing to do with religion, even when they clothe it in religious garb.)

          1. Observer*

            Which is a totally meaningless statement. In this context, also utterly irrelevant – they get the same food, hear the same band etc – they are even in the same room.

              1. Lamb*

                It’s also not the same social experience from one table to the next at a wedding. I’m going to a wedding next month; I expect I’ll be at the college friends table, but I’ve met the bride’s high school friends, and I know they are going to be having an awesome time.

        1. Vladimir*

          Most religions at least in their roots and conservative interpretation believe that. Two simple questions can answer whether the particular religions believes in women inferiority 1. Does the religion teach women should obey their husbands? 2. Does the religion allow female priests? If answers to these are no, then the religion views women at least to ceratin level as inferior.
          And I agree with Mike C, separate but equal, usually really doesnt mean equal.

          1. Chinook*

            “2. Does the religion allow female priests? ”

            As someone whose religion was probably being poked at with this comment AND who has studied the reasons because she disagrees with this stance, let me state that it is not because women are inferior but because we are different. And we are – men cannot give birth, so they get to be priests. Our Messiah was male and chose only male leaders despite showing much respect to women and treating them as equals (going way beyond what was socially acceptable in his time) and gave some women some very significant tasks in spreading His word (Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman at the well). These are the reasons my Church uses to explain a male priesthood. (Like I said, I disagree and my list of things after I die is to see if I corner someone up there to explain what a Y chromosone has to do with it).

            As well, there is a shift in our leadership to be less clerical oriented so that the priesthood isn’t seen as the end all and be all – it is just a calling like so many others (including motherhood, which is highly respected).

            As for women obeying their husbands, the husbands are also taught to treat their wife well, with respect and cherish her like a fine jewel (meaning as someone of value, not as an object).

            1. Vladimir*

              Hello, thank for your post. To be honest this wasnt really meant as a poke at any concrete religion but more on all religions.
              Ok I stand corrected on women priests, I never studied religion so I assigned the reaosn wrongly. Doesnt change the fact that majority of religions seen men as superior to women.
              I do not dispute for a second that men are taught to respect and cherish their wifes (and that majeority of husbands do that). But still it implies women are(were) not seen as equal to men by the church teachings(if one obeys and other cherishes, it is not really equal relationship).

          1. Observer*

            In Judaism, at least, the reason is basically pragmatic. This is a social event, where there is music, dance and wine. It’s way too easy for people to cross the line of appropriate behavior without really thinking about it.

            1. Liz T*

              Isn’t that REALLY closely related to the idea that women are so tempting that men can’t control themselves?

            2. Loose Seal*

              Because it’s so easy for penises and vaginas to come into contact at a wedding reception without the people involved thinking about it?

                1. Mints*

                  Why am I imagining those really clumsy infomercial actors going WHOOPS!
                  LBK, you’re a gay man, right? This is extra funny if I’m remembering correctly

              1. Observer*

                Because, of course NOTHING but intercourse could ever be considered inappropriate by any decent, right thinking human being.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The separate in synagogue services has always been explained to me as the presence of women being distracting to men, which …. eeech, so problematic.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I don’t understand why men do not see what a slap in the face this is for men in general. Men should be spearheading the outcry here.

              2. Observer*

                I agree with Not So New that it reads like a slap against men. It’s unfortunate that in the attempt to simplify some fairly nuanced concepts to intelligent people people use explanations more suited to children than adults.

                The issue of separation between sexes at prayer services is more complex than I could do justice to in a post like this. And, while distraction is an issue, as I said it’s far more nuanced that I care to get into here.

            4. Melissa*

              How is that not sexist? The assumption is basically that one gender can’t behave itself in the presence of the other, and based on religious texts the message is usually that women are so tempting/corrupting that men cannot behave themselves in their presence.

              1. LBK*

                What I find really funny is that this line of reasoning totally ignores the fact that sexuality is a thing…if you put all my male friends in one room at a party, that is not going to do a damn thing to prevent potentially inappropriate behavior since 99% of them are gay. Actually it would probably encourage it since there wouldn’t be any women to diffuse the situation.

                But I guess if we’re assuming all women are evil temptresses it’s not that much of a leap to assume all men are straight, too.

              2. Observer*

                No, the idea is that men AND women behave differently in a social atmosphere where there is wine, music and dancing, and inappropriate behavior is just much more likely when you add this to a group that is mixed gender.

                Again, I speak only for Orthodox Judaism.

                1. LBK*

                  If the concern is preventing inappropriate behavior, why is there wine and music and dancing at all? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy this as a reasonable explanation for dividing up the genders when there are already aspects of the celebration that could be considering encouraging bad behavior. I get that it’s the reason provided by your religion, but I don’t think it hold merit in this day and age when the non-religious aspects of culture have evolved so dramatically.

                2. Observer*

                  LBK, Judaism takes a very different view of celebration that Puritanism (as I understand it) does. Celebration is often a good thing, and generally as much in the physical realm as much as the mental, emotional and spiritual realms. In moderation, in fact, these things can improve the other aspects. However, inappropriate interaction between men and women is always a risk, one which is greatly heightened in this type of celebratory setting.

                  As for the development of the non-religious culture, that really makes things worse, in many cases. There was a time when social mores could have been expected to put a damper on some types of behavior which have now become fairly acceptable, but don’t come close in Jewish thought.

        2. Student*

          Go on, give us a quote from your religious text that establishes the basis for your sex segregation. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong. Passage references, fables, a specific holy book, or an edict by your organization; I’ll take anything.

          1. Observer*

            I have no reason to take this challenge seriously – both tone and context say the reverse.

            Considering that, I’m not going to waste my time trying to explain a line of reasoning that you don’t have the background to really follow, and which is totally unsuited to a medium like this anyway.

            Your question reveals the total lack of understanding of how this stuff works in Orthodox Judaism. Among other things, you left out one of the most important sources for this kind of reasoning – the corpus of legal texts.

            Since I could be wrong, I’ll provide a link that discusses this question and is geared to those with little or no background. (This is a short piece, so don’t expect an exhaustive and complete treatment with all the references handy.)

            This one is more of a personal reflection.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think we’re really getting off topic here and past the point where it’s productive, plus emotions are running really high. I think better to move on…

    4. GrumpyBoss*

      I personally would try to get out for the only reason that going to weddings for people who I don’t know too well is my personal idea of hell.

      However – if OP does decide to go, I kindly would remind her that the wedding isn’t about her. People often get stuck at tables at weddings with people whom they do not know/enjoy. This obviously has a twist to it with the gender separation, but it is still a day about the bride and the groom. Not an office party.

      1. tt*

        I’m with you on that. Weddings can be awkward social events with a bunch of people you don’t know, and if you’re not genuinely celebrating with the bride and groom, even more so.

        I’m guessing it’s because it’s a small practice and people are close, but I don’t really understand inviting a co-worker to your daughter’s wedding, unless they were also family friends. I would have no expectation or desire for such a thing. Does the boss feel obligated to invite them, and do the employees feel obligated to attend?

        1. Traveler*

          I kind of think its worse if you are genuinely celebrating with the bride and groom, as weddings anymore are so large that if they are the only people you know, you (and the bride and groom) are going to be spending quite a bit of money and time to only see each other for a few moments.

      2. Coffeelover*

        I agree. This isn’t about her, it’s about the bride and groom. She might end up having fun with the “support staff and wives”. I know in my current job all of my coworkers are male, the only two females are our admin team. I always have a ball with them in social outings. Peers are great however sometimes it’s better to have some ‘girltime”.
        Personally I feel her argument just comes acrosss as snobby.

            1. Fabulously Anonymous*

              And I hardly think her absence will. Neither will missing out on girltime with her employee’s wives will.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                This is part of what I don’t get about the reaction here. The OP isn’t making a big stink about this. She just doesn’t want to attend the wedding.

                1. Liz T*

                  Yeah, this is all very weird. I’m not even seeing people saying, “I wouldn’t mind being separated from my peers this way,” or “I’ve been in this situation and it was great.” People seem to be thinking of this from the men’s and/or party planners’ point of view, rather than the OP’s.

                2. Liz T*

                  And I’ll add that, even putting aside the implications of this being based on gender, this arrangement sounds seriously NOT FUN. That’s the OP’s stated issue, and it’s very odd that some people aren’t even understanding THAT.

                3. Observer*

                  I do agree that there is no reason whatsoever that she needs to go. And, I really don’t see why people are saying that she should. As Miss Manners would say “an invitation is not a command.” Just respond to the invitation to decline and offer good wishes.

                  I don’t even think it a “well, she has the right to be a jerk” type of situation. Honestly, I just don’t see any sort of moral or even social obligation here. Nor will her presence or absence make any sort of statement or cause any sort of issues if her boss is at all reasonable (which the letter indicates he is.)

            2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Obviously. But it’s indicative of a larger issue (which may or may not be a problem at her specific workplace, but is absolutely something that women bump up against throughout their careers).

            3. Ezri*

              But its that way of thinking that can prevent women’s status in the workplace from improving. Yes, it’s just ‘one wedding’, but it’s also a representation of a social pattern (whether it’s coming from coworkers, a religious group, whatever). Yes, in a vacuum containing spherical chickens, a wedding where the genders sit at different tables isn’t *that* big a deal. The issue is that women are repeatedly treated differently (disclaimer – I’m not saying sexism is everywhere, only that it does exist), and in a lot of cases the attitude is subconscious instead of overt. You end up (as a woman) being sensitive to things like this not because it’s one thing worth being upset over, but because of the pattern of gender-bias encountered over a period of years. It gets really tiresome to have ‘because you are a woman’ supplied as a reason for anything.

              It also wouldn’t make me feel better to realize that the boss’s family is probably just upholding *Tradition!!*. Some traditions are grounded in anti-female concepts, and as such some women won’t be comfortable participating. It could be considered ‘traditional’ as a Christian to promise to obey my husband in wedding vows, but I sure as heck didn’t do that. When we make excuses for gender-biased behavior like ‘it’s just once’, or ‘it’s just tradition’, we are shutting down the dialogue.

              And now I’ll get off my soapbox. :)

              1. Elysian*

                Yes – if we lived in a vacuum and this was just about a religion that separates the sexes, that would be one thing. But we don’t – we live in a society where the sexes have been professionally separated for a long time, and still are. It’s not like this wedding is just one “retro”-style event where the female OP has to re-live Mad Men-era ideals. It’s that this is just another among many places where women aren’t accorded a seat at the table. And even though its social, honestly, social spheres are where women lose out the MOST. Business takes place at the golf court/squash court/drinks at the club/colleague’s weddings. Missing one of those things isn’t the end of the world – but women miss almost all of them, or have to fight their way in, and that’s the problem.

                I don’t think there’s much the OP can do here besides go and talk to the wives, or not go. But I feel her pain and acknowledge that this event is one among many problems.

                1. Camellia*

                  Yes, this dovetails with what fposte said above , that we are defined by what happens outside of work , which is why we spend so much time on how to handle drinks after work, etc.

        1. Fabulously Anonymous*

          I disagree. She isn’t being invited because she knows the bride and groom, she’s being invited because she knows the bride’s father. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s different.

          And while YOU may think “girl time” is great, not everyone feels that way. That doesn’t make them snobby, it just makes them different than you.

      3. Mike C.*

        I know a lot of professional women that are tired of being left out of all sorts of professional and work related social activities simply because they are women. I’m not suggesting that the OP change the wedding in any way, but I completely understand why this is issue in the first place.

      4. Bwmn*

        In this case – it really is a bit of an “office party” in the sense that an entire office is being invited by the owner, not by the bride and groom. Who knows if the bride and/or groom even want any of them there?

        As a non-Orthodox Jew who’s been to a few Orthodox weddings – personally I don’t feel 100% comfortable. The weddings I have chosen to go to, I’ve gone to because I was very good friends with the bride and was happy to ‘suck it up’. But when one friend told me that I shouldn’t “worry about what I wore, because it’s always fun to see a secular guest dress inappropriately” – it didn’t exactly make me feel much better as potentially walking in as a joke. If it was a work event where I felt like I wasn’t even getting any legitimate networking/bonding with peers time – then I’d have no problem just sending my condolences and a nice gift.

        Going to a work related wedding is a long time commitment – and frankly, if there’s no professional benefit in going – then passing hardly calls for judgment like the OP being classist or snobby.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          one friend told me that I shouldn’t “worry about what I wore, because it’s always fun to see a secular guest dress inappropriately”


          Ah, ecumenism.

          I’m sorry your friend treated you that way.

        2. Observer*

          What your friend said was so inappropriate that I have really wonder what she was thinking.

          In real life, at every wedding I’ve been two where a secular guest dressed reasonably, no one blinked regardless of the particulars. Nor did anyone have “fun” with it. That’s just disrespectful, and I can totally understand your reaction.

      5. Jamie*

        I personally would try to get out for the only reason that going to weddings for people who I don’t know too well is my personal idea of hell.

        Ha – I’m with GrumpyBoss. I love weddings if I care enough about either one or both of the people getting married to genuinely want to share one of the most meaningful events of their lives – and touched that they wanted me there.

        Going to weddings where you don’t, or barely, know the couple because you know one of their parents or whatever? Yeah, I’ve already politely declined long before I learn about the details.

        I know some people love them but I do not get the appeal of big weddings. I’ve had two and both times I only wanted people who were important to one or both of us there.

    5. helen*

      “………It was especially awkward that the male support staff got to sit with my colleagues while I didn’t” I think that the male support staff probably would prefer to sit with the female support staff too, since they would know them better, but they were not able, so they chatted with the people at their table!

      “………..while I entertained their wives and chatted with our support staff” I think the wives will be fine entertaining themselves, I don’t think you are expected to entertain them at all.

      I was taught to ALWAYS bond with everyone at work, higher ups for sure, but equally important bond with the custodian, secretary, support staff – they are the ones who get you through some tough times!!

      1. Amy B.*

        AGREE! Perhaps AAM will receive a letter from one of the support staff asking what to do about a classist coworker that made their afternoon very uncomfortable because she thought she was too important to have to sit with them for a couple of hours.

        Everything in life is not going to be 100% fair or to one’s personal liking (especially when one factors in religions and cultures). If the male/female separation were happening in the office, there would be need for complaint. A once in a blue moon occasion? Not so much.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          “It felt like my actual colleagues had the chance to hang out and bond, while I entertained their wives and chatted with our support staff (who are lovely, but they aren’t exactly my colleagues).”

          So what are the Support Staff if not colleagues?

          1. Calla*

            As support staff, I don’t think that’s an unfair statement. I think it’s also important to remember that OP is the only female doctor, so it’s not a “mixed position” group for both sides. If my female VP boss never wanted to socialize with me, that would be one thing. We’re technically colleagues/coworkers sure, but our jobs are COMPLETELY different, and if we went to an event and she was the only executive and was made to sit with me and other assistants, and the wives of the other executives, just because we were all women–while her multiple male executive colleagues got to socialize with each other–I’d totally get being bummed out and even offended by that.

          2. Anonsie*

            Coworkers perhaps, colleagues no. We don’t refer to the physicians as our colleagues, we only refer to their actual peers that way. This is a stratified industry.

        2. Mike C.*

          Everything in life is not going to be 100% fair or to one’s personal liking (especially when one factors in religions and cultures). If the male/female separation were happening in the office, there would be need for complaint. A once in a blue moon occasion? Not so much.

          Sorry, but it’s 2014. We shouldn’t be tolerant of overtly sexist practices like this, and we should be supportive of those who have to deal with this garbage. Frankly, it’s always more than “once in a blue moon”.

          Just because life isn’t always “100%” fair doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work to make the parts of life we have control over more fair.

          1. Amy B.*

            When it comes to people’s religious practices at their family’s religious event that one was invited to, I don’t see where it would be advantageous for one to try to make the situation more fair. This from an atheist/Buddhist female that has always worked in a VERY male dominated field. I know discrimination and have worked/fought against it my entire career; but I do not see a wedding as “the hill you want to die on, Marine.”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But she’s not suggesting dying on this hill. She just wants to politely decline the invitation. She’s not suggesting that she get into her reasons when she declines.

              The fairness part that Mike is talking about is — I think — the reactions of people here, criticizing her for not wanting to go to a sex-segregated event.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not classist to object to being assigned to socialize by sex, when you’re attending in an essentially professional capacity and the rest of your peers are off on the male side. Some people may not object to that, but I take very strong issue with the people here who are criticizing the OP for this.

        4. Anonsie*

          I guarantee you the staffers also see why the LW is miffed here. If we went to a work event and our only female physician (there’s only one in my practice, too) had to sit with us while all the others were together somewhere else, we would all find that crappy for her. It’s nice to say everyone’s equal and all that fun stuff, but this industry is hierarchical and the folks on the lower rungs know that full well. The one female doctor here is lovely and sitting with her would be lots of fun, but if she were very junior we would (under different circumstances than the wedding) try to get her with the other doctors… Because some of them will indeed decide she’s not a peer if she’s not in the peer group all the time, and that’s messed up but that’s life.

      2. Mike C.*

        If it’s no big deal, then why don’t any of the male doctors sit with the support staff?

        Oh right, they were born with a different set of gonads.

        1. Joline*

          I’m not disagreeing that the thing’s sexist – but the male doctors are sitting with the male support staff in the initial letter, aren’t they? They just also get to sit with each other because of said gonads.

          1. fposte*

            But that’s the problem–there’s going to be almost no male support staff. If the office was 50/50 at all levels from doctor to nurse’s assistant I doubt the OP would have the distaste she does. The gendered split is going to end up basically putting support staff on one side and doctors on the other–except for the OP.

            1. Joline*

              I was only trying to comment that the point “…why don’t any of the male doctors sit with the support staff?” isn’t correct when in the letter it says “…all of the male physicians and male support staff sat together at one table…” I thought it might’ve just been missed on the read-through of the original post.

              You are likely right that could be few male support workers but it isn’t just “except for the OP” since per the original post there are at least some male support workers that are likely in the same position – awkwardly hanging out with people they don’t know. I think there is definitely a problem, but that wasn’t what I was trying to point out in my comment.

                1. Joline*

                  No problemo. That’s the joy of the internet. There’s great places for discussion, but sometimes it’s hard to read tone/intent in a post – and sometimes it’s hard to write what you actually mean to say.

            2. tesyaa*

              I’m concerned that the split by sex is so skewed. Although we don’t know how many doctors are in the practice, about 1/3 of the doctors in this country are women. Even if there are only 6 doctors, on average she’d have one other female colleague. If it’s a practice with 10-15 doctors, maybe the hiring is indeed discriminatory.

              1. Joline*

                I think someone was saying down below that sometimes the numbers don’t apply so easily to general practice because a lot of women go into specific fields like gynecology and pediatrics. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but if it is then it makes it a little better. Then with six doctors it might still be reasonable. 10-15 doctors you really would start to wonder, though.

    6. Zahra*

      I understand her concerns. After all, there are still (overwhelmingly male) organizations that plan stripper club happy hours, to which women are not invited. This, in turn, leaves them out of any networking they could do with their coworkers and impedes their career progression. It is one of the many ways that perpetuates the glass ceiling.

      1. Cat*

        Yes, and there’s a related issue that professional women are often assumed to be one of the support staff instead of one of the doctors or lawyers (or whatever). I suspect the only woman doctor at a practice gets this a lot.

        1. Judy*

          Back in the dark ages (early 1990s) we each had phones on our desks, but each cubicle (4 people) shared one phone line. We didn’t have voice mail. Many times when I answered the phone and said that Dave or Tom was not there, and I didn’t know when they would be back or where they were, I was told it as a secretary was my job to know where they were. Generally that meant that I was the last one to answer the phone, because that conversation always steamed me (and the guys to tell the truth).

          1. Natalie*

            Ugh, this bugs the crap out of me. I’m not the receptionist, ergo it’s not my job to know where my (male) colleagues have gone or when they will be back. They would be totally weirded out, and for good reason, if I asked them.

      2. illini02*

        I don’t really see what that has to do with this though. Its not like they planned a guys night out or anything. Its a wedding and they are seated at different tables. Maybe there will be other women on her side she can network with.

        On another note, I don’t know what women think goes on when guys go to strip clubs, but I wouldn’t call it networking. A golf outing? Sure, there is networking there. But a strip club??

        1. Cat*

          If there’s 8 account execs at Sterling Cooper, 7 of whom are male, and those 7 take the visiting male execs from Chrysler to a strip club that is networking from which the woman is excluded. The fact that it’s shady and shouldn’t happen in business is the point but it’s still networking.

          1. Colette*

            Agreed, it’s not that they’re talking about work, it’s that they’re building a personal relationship from which women are excluded.

                1. Chriama*

                  You’re right. I thought you were agreeing with illin02 and I was trying to explain why male colleagues hanging out at strip clubs is still networking and still has repercussions on the women who are excluded.

    7. Neeta*

      Given the nature of the issue, it’s very hard NOT to come across as sexist.
      As someone who works in IT, as such also a very male dominated industry, I would be quite annoyed to find myself seated separately from my colleagues at such an event. After all, if it weren’t for our work, I wouldn’t normally be here. So it IS kind of a work event, and instead of allowing me to socialize with my colleagues, I am “forced” to only socialize with people that I don’t normally interact with.

      That is not to say that I don’t like these people, or that I don’t want to talk to them. But it is perfectly normal to wish to socialize with people with whom I interact more often.

      1. MK*

        The wedding of the boss’s child is not be any sane definition a work event. It is a family and social event, but the boss felt he wanted to share his family’s joy with his employees. Since the reason for the separation is a religious tradition, what other option did the boss have? Not invite anyone from the office, so that the OP wouldn’t have to spend a few hours with coworkers she doesn’t usually interact with?

        1. Chuchundra*

          I disagree. A wedding where you don’t have any particular relationship with the bride or groom and the only reason you’re going is because your boss invited you is pretty much a work event for you.

          1. Autumn*

            I couldn’t agree more. Several years ago, my boss invited our entire department to his son’s wedding. I had never met his son, or his son’s fiancee, or anyone else related to my boss. Plus, they were having the wedding and reception at a super swanky venue, and (I’m embarrassed to admit this) as a junior employee making less than $30,000/a year, I didn’t really have the money to buy a gift for them. I ended up declining (saying I had other plans) and my boss did not make a big deal about it at all. He was (and still is) a very nice guy and a great boss, but he definitely didn’t consider anyone is his department “family” or close friends.

            In general, I don’t go to weddings anymore in which I don’t know the bride and/or groom personally, that I have a spend a ton of money on, or that I have travel more than a couple of hours to get there, but that’s just me.

            1. Aunt Vixen*

              That’s the – I mean, am I the first person in this thread to think that there are some invitations that are issued just to be polite, and for which the hosts have no expectations one way or the other w/r/t whether the invitee will accept? If I’m invited to a wedding in which I am not very close with at least one of the people actually getting married or (at a minimum) one of their parents, I’m assuming the invitation is pro forma and sending my regrets. (I *might* send a gift at that point, but seriously, if they invited me because they felt they had to and not because they wanted me to come, they shouldn’t care if I buy them a toaster or whatever.)

              That’s not even counting the people-we’re-counting-on-not-to-come category. Others with recent or imminent weddings, back me up. Katie the Fed?

              Anyway. Yes, a whole workplace attending the boss’s daughter’s wedding does effectively make the reception a work event for them. It’s not a work event for the daughter and her husband, though, so it’s not right to try to change things about it like the seating chart, the rope down the middle of the room, the rule about who has to cover their heads, etc. Alison is right: OP should regretfully decline and leave it at that.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                Oh yes, I’ll back you up. My mom wanted me to invite a bunch of her cousins because she feels she has to. She doesn’t expect them to come. It felt weird to invite them because for my part, I’m only inviting people I actually want to be there (with the exception of one family member I have to invite to appease grandma).

                I’m guessing the boss is from a culture where one typically invites everyone they know and weddings are a HUGE deal that cost serious time and expense. I think in India, for example, you invite a bazillion people, give or take.

                1. tt*

                  Since my family is not very “skilled” in social etiquette, they didn’t question anything I did, even though some of it violated etiquette. (this was one of the few situations where their lack of social graces was a relief instead of awkward!) I only wanted people that I genuinely *wanted* there, and wasn’t willing to follow some of the etiquette. Example: I invited one of my paternal aunts, but not the other. I have no relationship with her, she basically treated my siblings and me like second-class citizens when my parents split up, and I haven’t seen her in years. I didn’t invite ANY of my mom’s family, for similar reasons.

                2. Jamie*

                  Katie – this is one of those things that is really hard to unlearn once it’s wired into you. So I am personally with you but I feel for your mom. :)

                  I was always taught it was an unbreakable rule that you invite family based on category and not emotional closeness. Non-negotiable so when my husband wanted to invite 3 of his cousins because he has a relationship with them alarm bells went off in my head that nothing could silence. He has a handful of cousins – I have over 30 first cousins, most married. He gets one first cousin I have to invite 30+ none of whom I’d spoken to in over a decade.

                  One of his was a second cousin – I was crying at that point because I was now up to 300+ people I hadn’t seen in ages who I am sure wouldn’t have any interest in me or my wedding – and now what? Because that’s the rule.

                  I got around this by making him state emphatically that they were being invited as friends and not as cousins, which is ridiculous that I had to do mental gymnastics to keep myself from judging ME for my own choices it.

                  Seriously – some of this stuff once it takes root is impossible to completely eliminate. And now that I’m thinking about it – 10 years after the wedding – still bothers me.

                3. Katie the Fed*

                  Jamie – (with my apologies to everyone else for going on a tangent) – we resolved it by doing a second reception/party in my hometown for all the extended family. So that’ll be a few months after the wedding. That way the cousins get their party but don’t have to travel, and I get to have the smallish intimate wedding we want.

                4. Aunt Vixen*

                  @Jamie – we did the same. With family, the cutoff was our own first cousins and their children. My parents had been allowed to invite their first cousins (and aunts and uncles) to my brother’s wedding, but it took a while to convince my mother that ours was going to be smaller. And my mother-in-law wanted to invite a couple of because-you-do non-first cousins but we had to put the kibosh on that because we couldn’t invite everyone in that concentric circle in case they all came and we violated the fire code.

      2. Jessica the Librarian*

        Agreed 100%. I didn’t interpret OP’s letter as classist, but as a normal reaction to overt sexism. There’s a difference between respecting someone’s right to practice their faith as they see fit and being asked to follow those same guidelines in a social situation. There’s nothing classist about not wanting to spend an evening making awkward small talk with strangers of the same gender because you are not permitted to socialize with your male colleagues. I would be uncomfortable in that situation, too– uncomfortable enough to decline to attend the wedding. I’m a person of faith too, and my faith teaches absolute equality, so I would be uncomfortable with this situation for that reason as well.

        1. illini02*

          She never mentioned a problem with the custom. She just didn’t like who she was sitting with. And they aren’t strangers. Some of them are people she works with every day. She just thinks she is above them

          1. Jessica the Librarian*

            I didn’t interpret it that way at all. Not wanting to make awkward small talk with acquaintances at a wedding doesn’t mean she thinks she’s above them, just that she… doesn’t want to make awkward small talk with acquaintances at a wedding. I honestly didn’t detect any smugness or ego in her question, just discomfort with the situation, which I think is completely valid.

          2. Mike C.*

            The only reason she has to sit there is because of the gonads she was born with, nothing more.

            Funny how none of the male doctors are considered “above them” for not sitting with support staff.

              1. Mike C.*

                They also got to sit next to each other. The OP did not. Why do you keep arguing the classist case when there is overt sexism going on here?

                1. illini02*

                  Mike, as I said before, the way I read it (whether or not she meant it that way) was that her problem wasn’t as much about the custom, but about who she is stuck sitting with. The male doctors are sitting with support staff as well. We don’t even know what the number of doctors is. If there are 2 men and 1 woman physician, well its not like they are having some big doctor party while she is relegated to another table. However, she comes off, to me, as having a problem with who she is sitting with. In fact, she never mentions that she is insulted by the actual practice of segregation. I don’t agree with this practice and think its terribly outdated, but its not MY religion, so I’m trying not to judge others religious beliefs. I also said she shouldn’t go if she doesn’t want to. However, having a problem with the religious practice doesn’t necessarily preclude the fact that she seems to think she is above certain people. You are acting like she can’t have this opinion because of the segregation. Both are possible.

                2. Mike C.*

                  The sexual segregation is such a core part of the issue that it simply doesn’t need mentioning. She only wants to be treated like all the other doctors, but she can’t because she’s a woman and personal dignity is apparently less important than other’s religious beliefs.

                  Maybe she does have this opinion, but that possibility is so incredibly unimportant in the face of these grossly overt and dare I say primitive sexist practices that bringing it up can only serve to distract from the main issue at hand.

                3. tesyaa*

                  Why are all the other doctors male? One-third of physicians in this country are women. If it’s an Orthodox Jewish wedding, chances are good it’s in the NYC area, where I’ll bet the percentage of female doctors is even higher.

                  Maybe the religious boss is indeed discriminating in hiring.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            She absolutely didn’t say anything that warrants “she thinks she’s above them” presented as a statement of fact. I’ve talked before her about the need to treat letter-writers civilly and respectfully, and I’d appreciate people keeping that in mind.

            There is a way to say that you’re getting that vibe from the letter that’s still respectful and kind. Some of this is devolving into something that doesn’t fit that standard. (I also happen to think it’s wildly off-base, but my point here is about civility.)

            Relatedly: illini02, you and I have talked about how we discuss gender issues here in the past, and I want to ask you to keep that in mind.

            1. illini02*

              I saw this after my last comment. I really think I’ve been pretty civil in this comment thread and someone like Mike C has been much more rude, dismissive, and sarcastic (as seen by the comments that others have made). Yes I made comments about how the letter comes off to ME, but I never said anything mean or dismissive to anyone else on this board.

    8. Anonypants*

      On its own, the wedding doesn’t sound like a huge deal. But for decades, and even now, women are often left out of opportunities to bond with their colleagues, when said male colleagues choose to hang out in bars, saunas, golf clubs, strip clubs, gun ranges, and other places where women generally don’t hang out. These men get to discuss business, even make deals, plan projects, and get to network, and their female colleagues are nowhere to be seen. So the OP may see this as part of a more serious pattern facing women in the workplace, especially male dominated workplaces like hers. She may feel that this will be a chance for the men to bond without her, which could put them in better standing with the boss in the long run.

      1. NPF*

        I think this is basically the problem. However, it’s not resolved by OP not going. Whether she is there and physically separated from her male colleagues or not there at all, she can’t bond/network with them. Not attending doesn’t fix that problem. That said, she might choose not to attend on principle.

      2. Liz T*

        Honestly, I think that the wedding itself is also a deal (if not a BIG one), because she’d have to sit there feeling bored and excluded. Going to a wedding where you don’t know the bride and groom, don’t even get to TALK to the person who invited you, and are sitting with people you don’t normally socialize with while your primary colleagues are sitting with each other sounds totally miserable to me. Does it sound like fun to you? It’s kind of a lose-lose for the OP–whether or not she goes, her colleagues are sharing an experience that she’s excluded from because of her gender.

        This is the kind of party where I’d spend 20 minutes in a bathroom stall playing a game on my phone, come back for 15 minutes, then see how long I could reasonably pretend to text.

        1. Jamie*

          I also pretend to text. There should be some kind of database for people who are in awkward social situations to text each other. Like Tinder, but for people who are currently awkward and bored – not looking to hook up.

          I also agree it’s lose-lose for the OP because it sounds miserable – the only part I’d quibble with is not even being able to speak with the person who invited her. At any wedding unless you’re super close family the parents of the bride and groom are pretty scarce anyway. I don’t know that I’ve chatted more than a moment or two with a parent – you see them in the receiving line and then maybe end of the night to tell them it was a lovely wedding. Being excluded from her male colleagues is a much bigger deal because those are the one’s she’d be talking to all night if not for the separation.

          It just occurred to me how many weddings I’ve gone to with my husband where I didn’t know anyone – they were his family or friends. In this scenario I’d be all alone and not even have him to socially lubricate stuff for me? I would never have gone – no amount of will power would allow me to force myself into a situation that uncomfortable.

          1. Anonypants*

            “There should be some kind of database for people who are in awkward social situations to text each other. Like Tinder, but for people who are currently awkward and bored – not looking to hook up.”

            I want this!

    9. Chuchundra*

      For friends and family, it’s a time to celebrate the bride and groom. For the people at the OP’s medical practice, unless they are also close friends with the couple, it’s a work function.

      A work function where you can’t spend time with your peers is pretty pointless.

      1. tt*

        I also view it as a work function. Going to anything hosted by my manager? Work function. Even more so for an event I otherwise would never have gone to.

        I also wonder if this event, while genuinely based on tradition and not intended to be a slight to the OP, may be occurring in the context of an office where other gender-based distinctions and hierarchy are going on, and this is feeling like “one more thing.”

        Personally, I believe you have the right to decline any event you don’t wish to attend, without explanation, but realistically you may need to assess your office environment and whether there would be any potential negative consequences from not going.

      2. Chriama*

        This isn’t strictly a work function. Lots of people invite their collegues to weddings — not all or most, but many people do. And if you’re in your 20’s when you get married and can afford it, you might be more inclined to invite your parents’ acquaintances because they can afford better gifts than your immediate circle.
        This can and should be treated like a social occasion. If OP had a cousin who had the same practices, would she feel put out that she had to sit at a separate table?
        If she was regularly being invited to events like these or she had reason to believe it affected perception of her in the office then I would be more sympathetic, but 2 weddings over the course of a few years isn’t a big deal.
        Don’t go if you don’t want to go, but I don’t think this event is going to professionally define you.

        1. Natalie*

          A cousin’s wedding wouldn’t mean the OP was being denied an opportunity to network with her male peers.

          1. Chriama*

            But it’s one event — not even a yearly event, but a one-time thing. It’s not “significant and pervasive”. If the boss has sexist attitudes in the workplace, her not going to this event isn’t going to stop that, and if he doesn’t, her going to the event isn’t going to suddenly make him see her as barefoot with a baby on her hip.

            1. Natalie*

              “Significant and pervasive” is a legal standard, not a moral one. And no one is really making a slippery slope argument.

              IMO, it’s perfectly reasonable to feel put out by a work event where one is prohibited from socializing with one’s closest colleagues for a bullshit reason. The OP doesn’t need to justify her feeling with the fear some ridiculous worst case scenario.

                1. Natalie*

                  Where does she do that? The letter describes exactly what happened at the last wedding, and she says she doesn’t want to experience that again. That’s not a slippery-slope argument (which is what your “baby-on-hip” statement is), it’s a recounting of an actual experience she has had and has no reason to think won’t be repeated.

                2. Chriama*

                  You’re right, I extrapolated. Her feeling was that the male colleagues got to bond while she was stuck making small talk with people she didn’t know well. That’s a justifiable reason not to go. But I got the impression that she feared she was being placed in a “female” role that would carry over to the office — that’s the worst case scenario that I think is an exagerration, but you’re right that she didn’t actually say that.

        2. JB*

          If you are inviting people you don’t know well solely for the purpose of getting better gifts, that’s essentially a business transaction. You are inviting people for profit, not for the joy of the occasion. What OP is describing is similar. She doesn’t know this bride well. She isn’t being invited for that. It’s work-related. Weddings, just like any other social occasion, can and do serve as networking/business-building functions.

          1. Chriama*

            She’s invited because she knows the boss and the boss is related to the bride. If you’ve ever been invited to a wedding where you only know the bride/groom and none of the other guests, it’s the same situation. Someone else upthread described it better, but the idea is that it’s only work-related for the OP. For the people having the wedding (the bride, groom and their immediate family) it’s a social event and they’re sticking to their social customs. They shouldn’t change those customs for the OP, who has the freedom to decide not to go. And at the same time, the fact that they’re choosing their social customs at their social occasion is not a slight to the OP or a jab at her professional reputation. She’s really on the fringes of this entire thing, which is why I think feeling put out by it is unnecessary. She’s entitled to her feelings, but I don’t it will have much of an impact on her.

            1. Natalie*

              “They shouldn’t change those customs for the OP… And at the same time, the fact that they’re choosing their social customs at their social occasion is not a slight to the OP or a jab at her professional reputation.”

              I’m not sure where you’re seeing anyone, whether OP or commenter, suggesting any of the above.

            2. tt*

              There’s a difference to me between a colleague of someone related to the bride/groom, and actually knowing the bride/groom yourself. I’m more willing to tolerate certain uncomfortable situations for someone I personally care about. Not so much for someone I don’t have any emotional attachment or relationship with.

        3. annie*

          I think we have to be a little careful here, because in some traditions it is expected that the parents invite everyone and their pet goldfish to their kids’ weddings, and that the colleagues/neighbors/mailman actually attend or else people get offended. I agree the whole thing is annoying but the OP is the in the best situation to determine if her declining the invite is going to become A Thing.

    10. Artemesia*

      It was a great day in America, the day Katharine Graham refused to go ‘with the women’ after a dinner party in DC rather than ‘with the men i.e. all her peers in the political, publishing, business world’ and thus pretty much ended that custom in DC which penalized women who were not SAHWs. She didn’t make a fuss, she just informed her host beforehand, that she would leave after dinner rather than participate in that tradition any longer.

      I realize that in this case, it is a religious requirement and so not avoidable by the host, but it has the same effect. If the OP feels she must go, she might attend the ceremony where being separate is not really a big issue, but not attend the reception where it is. Social events are important to one’s professional life. Sex segregation is one of the ways that women are marginalized and kept in their place which is not business, professions etc.

      1. Chriama*

        But this is one wedding. If the OP feels the boss’s religion affects how he views her as a professional, then she’s got bigger problems than this single event. And if she doesn’t have any issues with her boss, he isn’t suddenly going to see her differently because of the one evening she spent at his daughter’s wedding.

        Overall, I think she has every right to feel uncomfortable about being forced to socialise with people she doesn’t know well, and I won’t deny that gender segregation is rooted in sexism. However, I don’t think that this wedding is a big deal. Go, or don’t go.

        1. Ezri*

          I don’t know… I think if I found out my boss adheres to religious practices that segregate men and women, even for specific events like weddings, I would be very concerned about my position in the company (being the only woman physician there is also kind of a red flag). I can’t imagine someone with daughters in this day and age being unaware of what that custom means for them, and people’s personal interactions are going to be colored by any religion they follow strongly. It’s hard for me to believe that the boss enforces that traditional separation on coworkers while also believing women are 100% equal to men. It’s possible, I suppose, but unlikely in my mind.

          1. fposte*

            Though I don’t see why that would be the place to draw the line–most of the popular religious draw on beliefs about women that are deeply problematic.

            1. Ezri*

              I agree – and as a Christian myself, it’s important to acknowledge that and try to always move forward. There are some denominations that still prevent women from preaching or holding positions of power over men, and some that don’t. Hearing that someone is a certain religion wouldn’t make me assume they think badly of women, but finding out they adhere to one of the more gender-biased customs or practices would make me wonder.

              It’s not that ‘I’m drawing the line’ – I’m not saying OP should quit or make a big deal over this if her work relationships are otherwise fine – I’m just saying it would be a warning sign to me that *might* reflect a larger pattern. It’s important to be aware of these things when they could impact one’s career.

          2. Lamb*

            It isn’t necessarily that the boss wants the sexes separated at the wedding either though; it could be something the couple felt strongly about, something his wife insisted on, something to make certain relatives more comfortable, even something required by the venue (if both the ceremony and reception were held on the synagog property, for example). If its just the one sex-separated wedding, that doesn’t reasonably extrapolate to “the boss thinks less of women”.

            1. Ezri*

              I agree with you that it doesn’t necessarily extrapolate, just that it could extrapolate. But I do think it’s a reasonable concern, and one OP will have to weigh based on her experiences at work and with her boss.

    11. NPF*

      FWIW I’ve been to Hindu weddings where men and women were segregated; they had to sit on opposite sides of the temple, separated by an isle. But the separation was only for the ceremony itself, not the reception/dinner/party after.

      I would go for the reasons you state and for the free food, but I would understand if OP were uncomfortable.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      She doesn’t have to go if she doesn’t want to. And she doesn’t have to explain why–all she has to say is that she has other plans for that day.

      Personally, I wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. Except for lunches, I don’t like to socialize with coworkers outside the office.

  7. rr*

    For OP1, I’m a bit more concerned about the sex-segregation in the office. Weddings come up infrequently, but you’re in the office every day. I know it’s a small office, but it’s large enough to have more than a couple support people. I don’t know how many physicians there are, but being the only woman physician strikes me as a bit off. Maybe I’m thinking this staff is smaller than it is, but if it’s only like 3 docs, that’s a much different scale of networking issue if the other two are sitting with the boss, than if there are 6 or 10.

    1. MK*

      The boss is the father of the bride and he probably had more important guests to see to than his employees. I don’t imagine that he spent much time with the OP’s male colleagues, let alone sat in the same table.

    2. Natalie*

      Depending on the specialty, 1 woman in 8 might not be out of proportion to the percentage of women in that field overall. In total there are more female doctors, but from what I recall they tend to be concentrated in pediatrics, OB-Gyn, and internal medicine.

    3. Chriama*

      Does this boss have a habit of inviting you to family events where you end up separated from your work collegues? Or do the doctors often take part in traditionally male activities (e.g. watching sports games at the bar, going to car shows, playing golf)? If so, you can take the wedding as part of a larger pattern (but I don’t think refusing to attend is going to have an effect on those other issues). If not, the wedding isn’t really a problem.

  8. Jillociraptor*

    OP3, it might be helpful to sit down with your budget manager or whoever is approving your reimbursements to understand the policy and where the requirements come from. We receive a fairly significant chunk of grant money that we just can’t access if we don’t have certain documentation (for example, flights can’t be processed if we can’t produce boarding passes for each leg). Lack of compliance means we can’t actually take advantage of the money we raise. In the last couple of years, even, I’ve seen more and more of these regulations emerge, especially on government grants, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this were an issue of the funding source changing their requirements rather than your budget manager or department changing the rules. Definitely they should have told you about it first, though.

    We had trouble with compliance until it was clearer why the rules were in place (for a flight, the boarding pass is the best indication that you actually used the service you/the grant paid for). And it will probably make you feel less frustrated, too, to know that it’s not just the whims of your compliance people standing between you and your reimbursements!

    1. olives*

      Wow, that could get problematic fast – for the past few flights I’ve been on, rather than tearing off the bit they need, they’ve taken the boarding pass wholesale at the gate. It’d be super frustrating to have to slow the process down and argue with the flight attendant just to get flights reimbursed.

      1. tt*

        I wonder if that varies by airport? The last few flights I’ve been on, they just scanned my boarding pass.

      2. Laufey*

        I couldn’t imagine giving up my whole boarding pass. If you have an issue with frequent flyer miles, it’s the only proof you have that you flew, and if there’s a seating problem (double booked seats), it’s the only proof you have that you belong on that plane. I’ve had enough of both those problems to keep them well past the date of my trip.

      3. Jen RO*

        The past few flights I’ve been on, there wasn’t any boarding pass – just a QR code sent to my email. I wonder if that would qualify as proof… I could print it out, of course, but someone could easily fake the printout. I haven’t had something “official” from an airport in years. (This is in Europe.)

      4. Cajun2Core*

        Often airlines such as Southwest do not provide boarding passes. I am not quite sure how that would be handled in this case. Hopefully they will accept some other sort of proof.

      5. Jillociraptor*

        You can just ask for it back, or take a picture before they take it. It’s never been a problem for me and I fly 10-12 times a year for work.

    2. Artemesia*

      Yeah, I just gave a speech where to get reimbursed I had to provide boarding passes — which was a first for me. My picky former employer didn’t go that far. How do they think people get from say the midwest to Hawaii to give a speech without having flown there? I doubt this is where the grant scrutiny should be going to prevent fraud.

      1. Cajun2Core*

        Artemesia, I agree with you that they definitely had to fly. However, when rules are in place they have to be enforced. It may not always be logical, but when it comes to auditing, logic doesn’t always come into play. The rules have to be followed.

        Also, consider this: You book a high cost flight ($1,000). Later you find a cheaper flight ($700) that flies at a different date/time but on the same airline. The airline gives you a credit for $300. You can easily submit the receipt for the $1,000 flight and get reimbursed for the full $1,000 yet still have the $300 credit with the airline. I can’t say that I know of a case where this has happened but I would not be surprised if it has.

        1. fposte*

          My state’s pretty stringent and still doesn’t expect you to override airline policy on boarding passes, though. There’s only so many fail-safe details you can require people to have before you start impeding your own efforts.

        2. Melissa*

          You’re still out $1,000, though. The airline didn’t give you a refund; they gave you a credit. Maybe you use it for another conference later on. (Also, I don’t know of too many academics booking refundable fares that allow you to change the flight and pay less. Most of the time, you have to pay change fees; plus, if the flight is less money you don’t get any money back.)

          I once booked a $250 flight for a conference. A snowstorm cancelled that flight, and the airline would not refund me the money. I was still out the $250. Luckily my employer allowed me to keep the airline credit and still reimbursed me.

      2. Melissa*

        I always thought it was weird to. Why on earth would I book a flight and then not take the flight? And how do you think I am getting those receipts from restaurants and hotels in San Francisco when I live in New York? The receipt should be enough. This was super irritating to me when my former university started it.

  9. Calla*

    5. Relatedly, I’ve been wondering how minor of a “I was not told this in the interview/I was told this but now it’s not happening” is too minor. I’ve posted in an open thread before that when I was at the 2-month mark of my new job that I wasn’t sure about it. At the 3-month mark, it’s still the same thing. The major factor for me, long story short, is: I was told in the interview (for an admin assistant position) that I would have to duplicate meetings in Outlook and then also on our internal calendar. I wasn’t thrilled by this, but I knew I could deal with it.

    What I was *not* told is that no one else in the office uses Outlook, and our “internal calendar” is a home-built web-based calendar with pretty much zero functionality other than putting times and meeting names in a calendar layout; on top of that, it’s extremely slow with many glitches that have not been resolved in the three months I’ve been here (for example, I cannot make any edits to a recurring meeting) and goes down at least once a week. Since at least half my job is scheduling, this is really painful. Additionally, there are frequently issues with the internet and phone system going down. If I decided to start looking (which I’m not yet… the benefits here are fantastic so I’m torn), would citing this be considered “high maintenance,” or understandable?

    1. KellyK*

      That’s a tough one, because it depends a lot on how you phrase it and whether the person interviewing you has any experience in that type of role. To me, it sounds terribly reasonable. *Of course* you want to have the tools to do your job well. *Of course* a glitchy system and constant internet and phone issues are going to be a problem for you. But I can also picture an interviewer thinking that sounds high maintenance and wanting someone who will just suck it up and deal with it when there are technical issues.

      *But* I’ll bet there’s significant overlap between employers who think wanting your tools to *work* is high maintenance and employers who have similarly glitchy systems and unreliable phone or internet. So as long as you’re not truly desperate to get out, I’d be honest and figure that if that self-selects you out of a job, it’s probably one you didn’t want anyway.

      1. Calla*

        Thanks! Yeah, I’m not desperate quite yet! It’s definitely exhausting to have to work with this, especially in the highly fast paced, meetings 24/7 department I’m in–but it’s livable and they do have amazing benefits, so it would be more like “If I look casually and see the perfect job, is this a good reason to give.”

    2. olives*

      Complaining about it in specific and in detail would probably be seen as high maintenance. I expect it’d be perfectly reasonable to say, “the systems we used at LastJob were a bit outdated, and I’m looking forward to using more modern technologies here at NewJob.” This will also give you some signal if they balk at the idea that they might be using modern software themselves.

      1. Calla*

        Oh yeah, I definitely wouldn’t be planning to go into detail! I had something more like “Outdated technology that had a lot of downtime”–just wanted to explain the background for everyone here.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying something general about hoping to work with more modern systems and technology. That said, I usually find it to be more effective to spin an answer to “why do you want to leave your current position” to be less about your current job and more about the potential job – so something like “Because I’m really excited by the opportunity to work on your cutting-edge chocolate teapot melt-guard system!” That could work here, depending on the specifics of the company of course.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree, unless you’re leaving so quickly it’s a red flag. “Why are you looking to leave your current position” doesn’t have to be about your current employer, and I think interviewers will subconsciously like you more if they feel like you’re running towards them rather than away from your old company.

        1. Calla*

          I’ve only been here three months (granted, I’m not going to be applying and interviewing right away, but probably still under the year mark), so I feel like that’s soon enough I should probably have a valid reason for leaving vs. only mentioning why I want to join them.

          1. Chriama*

            Oh… in that case you might have to come up with a better reason. Maybe you could frame it as ‘the company culture was committed to old processes instead of looking for new efficiencies, and part of that was using familiar but unrealiable technology’.

            1. AnonyMouse*

              Yeah, after 3 months I think you need a reason that addresses your desire to leave your current job as well as why you want to come work for them. I’d go with something like what Chriama said, plus maybe “…and that’s why I’m enthusiastic about joining a team that’s so committed to efficiency and innovation, as I can tell from X Y and Z.” If applicable of course.

  10. Josh S*

    #2 glass door review:
    You have another option–write the review and be honest. Say something similar to what you put above: “The pay & time off aren’t the greatest, but I find that to be a worthwhile tradeoff because of A B & C. And ultimately, I’m very happy here. This job is not for everyone, you need to have the kind of personality that can deal with X Y & Z. But in return you get to work with___________ people doing good work. ”

    Few jobs are 100% bad. Even fewer are 100% roses. Giving the full picture might not be a bad thing.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Agreed with this option as a possibility. If you do feel comfortable writing some sort of review, another option could be to write an honest but limited review that only addresses positives since, presumably, the negative information is already out there if it’s creating recruiting stumbling blocks. Something like “I see other reviewers mentioning issues with compensation and time off, but one thing to consider about Company A is they have one of the best chocolate teapot spout construction training program I’ve ever encountered, and really innovative lid design. If you want a career in spout building and need to work on your skills or you love beautiful teapot lids, this could be the place for you!”

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Forgot to say I mention this because the OP says they are happy at the company – so presumably there are some positives that could appeal to employees like them.

      2. Chriama*

        I think that’s a decent idea. She can point people to other reviews that address the negatives without having to state them herself.

    2. Anonypants*

      Normally I’d be 100% okay with a review like this – it’s balanced, addressing the good and bad aspects of the job so people get a clear picture of what they could expect at the company. However, if she writes this review after being asked, it’ll be obvious it’s her, and even if it’s balanced, she may still face retaliation for addressing some of the negative aspects of the role. They seem to expect her to write a glowing review to thank them for the award.

    3. Betty*

      The letter-writer could write an honest review and include a sentence that says something like, “My manager at {company} asked me to consider writing this review.”

      Would that get the letter-writer in trouble at work? Of course it shouldn’t, but it might.

    1. Loose Seal*


      How does your comment help the OP? She can hardly rewrite the letter to sound less snobby to you. And what if she is a snob? She still needs advice on this situation.

  11. illini02*

    As I said a bit upthread, I don’t think OP #1 should go to the wedding if she doesn’t want to. There are a ton of reasons you could use, or just send your regrets without giving one. However, she does come off pretty condescending as if those “others” are beneath her. Now I’ve never worked in a physicians office, but I have worked many places where there were plenty people lower on the corporate ladder than me. Secretaries, tech support, etc. Some of those people I was just as close with as my immediate peers. I couldn’t imagine being that angry about being sat at a table with them essentially because I made more money. It seems like it was a mix of wives and support staff, so even if you have never met the wives, you still presumably knew roughly half the people at the table and worked with them on a daily basis. If this wasn’t a segregated wedding, you’d probably still have a similar ratio of people you do work with and their wives. It just sounds so petty to me. I’ve also been seated at the “singles” table at weddings with mostly people I don’t know at all, and you know what, I managed to have fun then too.

    1. Calla*

      OP isn’t mad she’s being sat with them because she makes more money, she’s uncomfortable that she’s being sat with everyone BUT her peers *solely because of sex*. I usually try not to compare things that aren’t racism to racism, but I doubt many people would be tolerating this–and calling the OP snobby and uppity– if OP’s boss’ religion said races had to be separate, and the only black doctor was sat with assistants while the white doctors got to mingle together. Or let’s imagine it being segregated by religion, or even age! Even if not necessarily offensive, I think most people would get why it might feel a little weird to someone. What’s more, OP isn’t saying that her boss is wrong to do this, and she is not asking him to change anything–she’s simply asking if it’s reasonable for her to not go because it makes her, personally, uncomfortable.

      1. illini02*

        I made it clear that she shouldn’t go if she doesn’t want to. If the practice of it is offensive to her, by all means, stay home. But it to me doesn’t seem like she minds the practice itself (or at least thats not her major issue), just that she isn’t sitting with who she wants. If I was told that it was a racially segregated wedding, I wouldn’t go on principle, not because I don’t want to talk to people who are lower in stature than me. That is essentially what she said.

        1. Mike C.*

          And if she doesn’t go there are professional repercussions. Seriously, have you never seen the crap professional women have to deal with in male dominated environments?

          1. Katie the Fed*

            You know, I work in a very male-dominated environment. Yesterday I was the only woman in a room of 30 – a leadership meeting. At the higher ranks where I am, there are very few women.

            We do deal with crap. But honestly, Mike, you don’t speak for all of us. I don’t even speak for all of us. I think you’re presuming a lot about what women should and shouldn’t think.

            And we often have to choose our battles. There have been a lot of guys nights that I didn’t get invited to, but I’m not going to fight them all. I actually started an informal “Ladies Steak Night” with my women colleagues a few years ago – kind of a joke but also a good networking opportunity if we’re being excluded from the boys nights.

            This particular wedding isn’t something I’d particularly enjoy attending, because it sounds boring. But missing out on one single night with colleagues probably isn’t going to make or break your career.

            1. Mike C.*

              I’m not claiming to speak for any woman. I’m speaking from my own observed experiences in heavily male-dominated environments – the sciences and aerospace in particular. The only claims that I am making are:

              1. This wedding is incredibly sexist.
              2. Women in male dominated environments suffer from pressures that cause actual harm and are often unseen by those who aren’t directly subjected to it.
              3. The OP isn’t acting in a classist manner for wanting to be seated with her peers.

              In what way do you see me speaking for others?

              1. AMT*

                I agree wholeheartedly. My wife deals with professional sexism daily, and I don’t blame her when she doesn’t want to deal with sexism in her non-work life, even in the context of tradition or religion. She once rejected an apartment because the guy showing it didn’t shake hands with women for religious reasons. I don’t think the fact that it’s a religious event excuses the sexism, nor do I think the OP was out of line for wanting to socialize and bond with the people she actually works with.

              2. Katie the Fed*

                Hmm ok. You’re right, it’s not that you’re speaking for others. I’m having trouble putting my finger on what’s bugging me, to be completely honest. I think it’s that not everything needs to be a battle. I agree this is sexist, and I don’t think it’s classist at all. But I don’t think there will be professional repercussions for declining this invitation. It just doesn’t seem like THAT big a deal to me.

                1. Mike C.*

                  I may have been unclear before, but the most extreme action I’m advocating for is not attending the wedding. I’m not trying to suggest some sort of fight or protest, just venting my frustration that this sort of garbage still happens in 2014.

                  You’re well within your right to hold the opinion you hold, and yeah, there might not be any repercussions to not going.

                2. Katie the Fed*

                  Also, and I’m not really sure why this is (I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon) but it’s kind of strange to me that you seem much more outraged than a lot of women responding. Like you’re leading the charge on our behalf, when we’re more than capable. I know that’s really my own issue, to be honest I’m not sure why it bugs me. I thinking would feel a little odd championing the causes of a group I’m not a member of, I think, at least in such an emphatic way. Like, it’s good to have allies and supporters, but your feelings on this are very strong. Maybe it’s just the words you use.

                3. Mike C.*

                  I have tons of strong opinions, I’m not sure why that comes out now as being odd. And we’re talking about a sex segregated wedding in 2014. I mean really?

              3. EM*

                My sister is going into your career field. She knows what’s up ahead of her (her college program is preparing her for it), but it still makes me mad on her behalf that she has to deal with this kind of BS.

            2. alma*

              I do not read Mike’s comments as stating that OP MUST fight this battle, but rather stating that she would be completely in the right if she chose to do so.

        2. alma*

          I am a woman who has worked in both support/admin roles and more specialized, non-admin roles. Admins and support staff do important work. But it is demeaning to be lumped in with that group, based on gender, when you’re not. When I worked as an admin, I happily did admin tasks because that was the job I signed up to do. But if I was hired for a non-admin job, don’t treat me like I should just be a “nice girl” and print off your reports for you.

          I understand that this is a social situation and it’s a little different. But it still unwittingly plays into the idea that no matter how much education you have or how much you bust your butt, you will still not be seen as playing on the men’s level.

          I think back to when I worked as a receptionist – if we had all gone to a sex-segregated wedding and the lone female VP had been uncomfortable that she was seated with support staff and wives instead of colleagues on her level, I would not have blamed her one bit.

          1. Mints*

            I’m sort of conflicted because from what I’ve seen from clinics, the doctots/clinicians work really closely with support staff and can go really long stretches without actually working with other clinicians. (Mr. Mints works clinical). So I do think the line she’s drawing that the support staff are not her colleagues seems a little artificial.
            However, it’s absolutely replicating the old (and not so old) sex discrimination and I think it’s understandable that she wants a firmer social line around her, including her with the male doctors.

            1. alma*

              My mom worked as a nurse for many years and certainly has some horror stories about demeaning treatment by doctors… that’s normally a hot button for me, but the OP of this letter didn’t really set that off at all. I guess that’s why I was surprised by some of the reactions the letter got. I feel like my mom would find it incredibly awkward, if not worse, to be at a sex-segregated event and have a lone female doctor chilling with a table of mostly nurses, while the male doctors all bonded with each other.

              Plus it might put a damper on the nurses’ freedom to gossip about the doctors :D

              1. Mints*

                The letter didn’t actually set off my “high horse” trigger either, but some of the (nicer) comments explaining how they read the dismissiveness made sense to me. So I’m kind of like, maybe she is a little dismissive, but in this situation she has a right to be indignant about the whole situation, so I don’t really fault her for it.

                This is maybe tangential, but the clinic I’m most familiar with has doctors and nurse practitioners as clinicians running a schedule, and the medical assistants assisting clinicians (check out my redundancy). So the the clinicians barely interact with each other, while the support staff interact with everyone. So picturing them, it would seem weird that the doctors would fence themselves off socially.
                (But again, I get that it might be different, and don’t blame OP for wanting a social divide including her with the other doctors)

      2. Artemesia*

        At a party I might spend a lot of time with a wife of a colleague because she is interesting; I sure as heck don’t want to spend that time with her because we are women and should have no interest in or be in a position to annoy the important men present. I am sure that often the women are in fact more interesting than their husbands; that doesn’t make sex discrimination and forcing professional women to sit in the ladies parlor while the male professionals bond and network pleasant or desirable. It is hilarious to label not wanting to be ghetoized ‘snobbish.’

        This kind of segregation was used for most of US history to keep women from being full participants in professional, political and business life.

    2. Artemesia*

      At a party I might spend a lot of time with a wife of a colleague because she is interesting; I sure as heck don’t want to spend that time with her because we are women and should have no interest in or be in a position to annoy the important men present. I am sure that often the women are in fact more interesting than their husbands; that doesn’t make sex discrimination and forcing professional women to sit in the ladies parlor while the male professionals bond and network pleasant or desirable. It is hilarious to label not wanting to be ghetoized ‘snobbish.’

      This kind of segregation was used for most of US history to keep women from being full participants in professional, political and business life.

      1. Eden*

        I don’t think it was disliking to be segregated from her peers that caused the ‘snobbery’ comments, I think it was the fact that she is faintly dismissive of the wives and support staff she’d be compelled to mingle with. “They’re lovely people, but …” comes off as dismissive, whether or not that was the OP’s intent.

        1. illini02*

          Thats exactly what I’m saying. Again, if she said “I’m morally against this gender segregation, would it be wrong for me to not go” I would say she is fine. But saying “I don’t want to sit with THESE people” makes the reasoning sound much worse

          1. alma*

            I think this is an extremely uncharitable reading, though. If you read the full sentence, here is what she says:

            “It felt like my actual colleagues had the chance to hang out and bond, while I entertained their wives and chatted with our support staff (who are lovely, but they aren’t exactly my colleagues).”

            She clearly identifies the problem as the fact that her male peers got to hang out and bond without her, and that she was left out from that. I am really put off by the idea that a woman is a classist snob if she doesn’t suck it up and smile when she is excluded from socializing with professional peers.

            1. Chriama*

              I don’t think she was being classist by not wanting to sit with the support staff, but it did sound condescending to me when she said she “entertained” the wives. Overall, if she’s opposed to gender segregation then she has every right not to go (because this is a social event, the boss also has every right to practice his faith). However, if she’s worried about going because of the effect it will have on her professional reputation, then I think she’s making a mountain out of a molehill.
              I guess what I’m objecting to is the idea that this one wedding is representative of all the sexism perpetuated against professional women ever, and that by if she goes she’s being repressed by institutionalized sexism (I’m exaggerating, but that was the general impression I got from some of the comments). The OP’s concerns were framed as unhappiness because she doesn’t get to network with her male coworkers, and I don’t believe that this event is actually having that result.

              1. alma*

                But it doesn’t have to be The Most Egregious Act of Sexism Ever to still be, y’know, sexist. It’s a microaggression. Even if OP is the world’s biggest and most classist jerk (and I think people are really reaching for the worst interpretation possible in some cases), she still has a valid complaint about being excluded from her peer group based on gender.

                I don’t like this idea that if a woman is even slightly “bitchy” (or snobby, uppity, unpleasant, whatever word you want to use) that it’s OK to sideline the discussion of sexism to focus on fixing her alleged personality defects.

                1. Eden*

                  I’m not seeing where anyone is really talking about the OP’s personality defects, nor do I see any dissent on the sexist issue–everyone agrees that this is the main problem, but this aspect of the wedding is not up for debate or change by the OP.

                  I think that the point I and others are making is that the sexist segregation is wrong, but not amendable in this situation. So: don’t go–and I get that this could carry some potential workplace backlash also–or go, and see if something positive can’t be created out of a bad situation, i.e., getting to know the support staff better.

                  I mean, obviously, she should be permitted to sit with her peers. But in this case, that’s not possible, so it seems that the issue is, how to respond to that.

                2. alma*


                  I’m not seeing where anyone is really talking about the OP’s personality defects,

                  With all due respect: Huh?! Do a Ctrl + F on the terms “snob,” “classist” and “high horse” and you will find they have all been said in reference to OP. I’m not sure how to read those comments as anything other than statements of OP’s alleged personality defects.

                  I don’t disagree that pragmatically speaking, she has to play the situation as it lays, but I do strongly object to the personal insults that have been leveled at her for daring to feel uncomfortable with the situation.

                3. Chriama*

                  I agree, and I’m trying to answer the OP’s question as she asked it. She said she felt like the male support staff got to network with her colleagues while she was forced to play nice with the doctors’ wives. I think that’s a valid reason not to go, but I don’t think she was actually missing a networking opportunity.

                4. Eden*

                  alma: I don’t think that saying you perceive a snobbish (or whatever, did anyone really use the word ‘bitchy’?) tone is the same as stating that she IS a snob–we all know that tone can be read by different people in different ways. After writing that comment, I saw the ‘high horse’ comment, which was a little more tart than some of the rest, and I don’t see any call for that, either.

                  No one has said that she has no cause to be upset by this massively sexist and demeaning arrangement–but the fact remains, that’s the situation and I doubt she can change it. What has been said is that the way she is phrasing some of her objections does, in fact, sound dismissive of the folks she has to share a table with, if she is to go.

                5. alma*

                  I don’t think that saying you perceive a snobbish (or whatever, did anyone really use the word ‘bitchy’?) tone is the same as stating that she IS a snob–we all know that tone can be read by different people in different ways.

                  Sorry, but I see this as semantics. “I’m not saying you ARE a jerk — just that you SOUND like a jerk.” Either way, it unfairly fixates on the fact that OP failed to express herself in a 100% perfect and nice way rather than on the problem she is seeking help with.

                  What has been said is that the way she is phrasing some of her objections does, in fact, sound dismissive of the folks she has to share a table with, if she is to go.

                  … if you are totally reaching for the worst interpretation of her words, sure.

                  As someone who spent a lot of years in the admin/support group, of which OP is supposedly being dismissive, I don’t expect to be considered a peer by VPs, senior partners or higher-level people. I’m not their peer, and I have more respect for someone who understands and owns that fact. I am actually far more uncomfortable with people who want to act overly buddy-buddy (like the Nerf war executive in a recent post).

                  And I think people who are so concerned for the female support staff should also consider that the treatment of high-ranked women sends a pretty clear message to lower-ranked women. If I am a receptionist and I see that a female VP is still expected to make copies or arrange food deliveries, that doesn’t give me a lot of hope for my progress in the company. If I see that higher-ranked women are excluded from socializing with their male peers, that sends me a similarly depressing message. I have decent self-esteem and all, but I don’t expect that socializing with me is much of a consolation prize for a woman who has been excluded in such a way.

                  I’m not saying that OP needs to make a huge protest march out of the wedding hall, but the fixation on her alleged snobbiness is just dumbfounding to me.

                6. Eden*

                  I can only speak for myself here, but: I’m not saying she should consider the support staff her peers. I’m not saying she’s a jerk. I’m not saying this is an okay situation that she should be fine with.

                  I’m saying, IF it is politically a bad move not to attend and she feels like she would insult her boss by her absence, it’s worth thinking about how to make a positive out of this crappy situation. And while they are NOT her peers, mingling with the support staff can have some benefits, which it is not apparent, from the letter, that she is considering.

                  I don’t really want to be the apologist for this, but you don’t necessarily need to reach for the worst interpretation to have been rubbed the wrong way by the comment that she is ‘dreading’ sitting at the table with the support staff and wives. I am not condoning anyone calling her a jerk or whatever though!

                7. alma*

                  I get what you’re saying, Eden. The way I had read the letter, it seemed to me like OP already did as you described. As much as people don’t like the phrasing of “entertained the wives,” it does at least sound like OP did her best to be engaging and social with the people she was seated with, despite feeling very awkward about the situation.

                  Where I think we disagree is that I think you left off an important part of the “dreading” sentence: “I am dreading sitting at the wives and support staff table again while my colleagues who I work with on a day to day basis all sit together and bond.” She isn’t saying the support staff and wives are horrible chores to be around, she is saying that she hated feeling excluded from her peers last time and doesn’t want to repeat the experience. I think that is a completely human reaction.

    3. jennie*

      I’ve read stories about female doctors having a harder time getting respect from their support staff than male doctors. Saying the seating is no big deal, get over it, is just another way the female doctor’s authority is undermined. If she was the only female VP and had to sit with the female assistants rather than her male VP colleagues, it would be the same situation. Not classist but sexist!

  12. BadPlanning*

    I understand OP#1’s annoyance. She’s sitting at a table with a bunch of people she doesn’t know very well. She knows the support staff by name, but most of the interaction is business related. No one wants to talk about filing at the wedding. The wives aren’t sure what to talk about because they can’t gossip about all their Doctor spouses. The support staff can’t gripe about the clueless doctors. Meanwhile, the other table of male doctors is laughing and clearly coming up with the new inside joke that will rotate through the office for the next three months. OP #1 is obliged to kick off “safe” topics for the wives and support staff.

    If OP #1 does go, I think her best bet is to view it as a networking opportunity to win over her table of spouses and support staff. Dr. Guy goes home, complains about a conflict between Dr Guy2 and OP, wife comments, “OP doesn’t seem like she’d say something like that to a patient, are you sure Dr Guy2 got it right?” Or SupportStaff #1 is juggling requests between OP and Dr Guy3…who might win out if SupportStaff #1 has recent positive thoughts about the OP? I don’t mean the OP should suck up to her table…just that there can be less obvious benefits. Bonus points, if she and the support staff come up with their own inside joke.

    1. Chriama*

      Your description of the event is the first argument I’ve heard that makes me sympathise with the OP (being uncomfortable while all the guys are bonding, and the real repercussions this could have back at the office), so good job!. I also agree that not going has the same effect, while going could give her a chance to get to know her colleagues better through their spouses.

    1. Chriama*

      Is it common ettiquete to send a gift if you’re not attending the wedding? I would be opposed to spending money on someone I don’t know when I didn’t even get a free meal out of it!

      1. Natalie*

        It’s common enough if you know the couple, but my understanding is you decide whether or not to send a gift regardless of whether you attend. That is, you send a gift because you want to and can afford to give a gift, not as some sort of door-fee or consolation prize as you can’t attend.

          1. Natalie*

            No, although a lot of greedy people would like the rest of us to think that buying gifts is required, and that the gift has to “cover” the cost of plate.

            Gifts are just that – a gift. They are never required.

          2. fposte*

            You’re also not really supposed to bring the gift to the wedding even if you do attend–they’re better sent to the house of the couple, or one of the couple.

          3. Chriama*

            Haha I totally expect gifts at my wedding, or don’t come. Of course it doesn’t have to be material (like if you made the cake or wrote me a song). I grew up in Canada but my parents didn’t, so a lot of my understanding of this stuff is skewed. In a culture where the groom’s family has to pay money to the bride’s family, gifts (or cash) are definitely non-optional!

            1. tt*

              I think some people do expect a material gift (whether you attend the wedding or not) when you get married, which I disagree with. (though I love your idea of someone writing a song!) I didn’t personally “expect” a material gift from anyone, I only invited people to my wedding that I truly wanted to be there, gift or no gift.

              I pretty much subscribe to Natalie’s comment upthread – I send a gift for those people I care about and what to send a gift to, regardless of whether I go or not.

              1. Chriama*

                I guess it depends on how weddings are done in your family. I would probably invite friends and clients of my mom (she’s a lawyer) because they have lots of money and could get me expensive gifts. She’s actually the one that pointed this out to me when I said I’d want a small wedding.
                Although I hear people also separate wedding and reception. To me the invitation is for both, although people you’re not really close to only come to the reception.

                1. tt*

                  I was the first (and only so far) of my siblings to get married, and since we’re not involved with the extended family, I’m not even sure who is married or not!

                  Honestly, we were originally just planning to go to City Hall (I suggested we use a local funeral home that did drive-thru weddings, but my husband had no sense of humor ;) ) , but the parents were bothered by that, and we decided a casual thing (basically a bbq with a 10 minute Justice of the Peace thing tacked on at the beginning) would be fun. But we also got married in our late 30s, were paying for it ourselves, and had spent so long planning NOT to get married, that by the time we actually decided to do it, we weren’t going to be coerced into doing anything we really didn’t want to do.

                  Your comment about the split ceremony/reception is interesting, because my SIL did it the opposite way. Ceremony was in a small function space with a JP, and everyone was invited to that, but only a smaller group of family/friends was invited to stay for the dinner after. I had never heard of splitting it before.

  13. neverjaunty*

    OP #4, you should back out of that interview like you found a dead spider on it. Not because they were deceptive in their ad, but because of what they told you: their finances “aren’t very stable”. There is a HUGE difference between a company that only pays X because that’s the budget and one that has unstable finances.

    What do you think will happen if they’re broke around paycheck time, or if laying you off suddenly will let them make the budget next week? The history of startups is littered with people trying to get a paycheck they’re owed, or going from “employed” to “security will escort you out” on five minutes’ notice.

    1. Natalie*

      Or worse, they’re broke around paycheck time and just decide to not pay you. Maybe they even try and talk you into working for free “until things improve”, which turns out to be “never” (as it does 99.99% of the time).

    2. Sigrid*


      I’d take ‘our finances aren’t very stable’ as a clear red flag, at least if stability is what you’re looking for.

    3. Artemesia*

      I know three people who were fired from startups shortly before the equity they were to be paid for their work would have been authorized; stealing labor is a long tradition in start ups. And any place with ‘unstable finances’ and especially one that tells you so, is likely to shaft you. The last person hired is likely to be the first ‘let go’.

    4. Chriama*

      Yup. If they can’t afford to pay good salaries, they can’t afford to hire good employees. New grads with no experience might be willing to put the long hours in for pizza and ping pong, but at a certain point they’ll need expertise that they just can’t afford.

  14. Chuchundra*

    The bigger question with OP#1’s situation is how does anyone ever convince their spouse/SO to attend such an event?

    “Hey babe, we need to go to my boss’s kid’s wedding where you don’t know anyone. On top of that, it’s segregated by gender, so you’ll have to sit with at a table with other spouses and co-workers/bosses of your gender while I sit at a different table all the way across the room. Have fun!”

      1. KerryOwl*

        She specifically refers to the wives of her colleagues.

        I agree though, I would never drag my husband to something like that.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Maybe the issue is that it’s “Hey, babe, I need to go to my boss’s kid’s wedding because I need to suck up/talk to boss about business x/get on his good side. You can’t sit with me, but it would look better if you were there. Remember, if I can make a good impression at this event, I might get that promotion!”

    2. Jen RO*

      Good question! I hadn’t thought of this – it makes the situation even more uncomfortable for everyone.

  15. Scott M*

    # 3: I’m not clear on the issue. its the OP upset about the requirement to have specific documentation? Or is it the requirement to show credit card statements? I do think the requirement to provide statements is weird.

    My company does not require credit card statements; only receipts. I have used a credit card statement as documentation, when I couldn’t locate a receipt. But all my expense reports usually just include receipts.

  16. LillianMcGee*

    #1, ugh. Get off your high horse. Why should it be awkward to bond with your support staff?? You should be glad for the opportunity to get to know the people that SUPPORT YOU. If I found out any of the lawyers I work for said this about “having” to be social with me I’d be super insulted AND less inclined to go the extra mile for them in the future. Check your perspective, sister. If it’s beneath you to have to socialize with your subordinates, do them a favor and decline to go.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Easy there!

      I can see why you read it that way, but it might also be more that she’s the outsider among a group that all know and work with each other, so she’s sitting there kind of on her own while everyone else knows each other and chats. That’s definitely happened to me – work groups can be very insular, depending on the personalities, and it’s not always easy to break into a different group.

      1. Adam*

        Weddings are weird this way. I went to a friends wedding once where all my friends were seated at one particular table but I wasn’t. I was assigned to a table of complete strangers. The reason? I was the lone single guy of the group and I think someone was hoping some wedding vibes would spill off into match making opportunities. You can guess how much fun I had at that reception…

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’m glad you posted that – I’m trying to be careful of that when working the seating chart for my own wedding. I want to make sure people actually know each other or would have meshing personalities.

          1. Judy*

            We just set up a head table, and a table for each set of grandparents, great aunts, etc. Everyone else was a free for all.

          2. Aunt Vixen*

            We were lucky–our friends and relations divided quite neatly into groups of seven to ten, which made it dead easy to sort everyone into dinner-table-sized groups without artificial splits or hurt feelings.

            Plus, people are (at least, at our wedding they were) totally allowed to get up and walk around the room and talk to other people during the reception.

    2. Calla*

      I feel like everyone is missing the “segregated by sex including with a literal wall divider” in their rush to call the OP a classist snob. I could be wrong, but I very much doubt the OP would have a problem if it was an even mix of her, her physician colleagues and their spouses, and support staff.

      1. Jazzy Red*


        I can’t help but wonder if the bride and groom sat together, or if the poor bride was banished to the female area.

    3. Mike C.*

      Did you miss the part where the whole issue has to do with the fact that she’s being treated differently because of her gonads?

    4. Eliza Jane*

      I’m trying to think of this from my own experience. My current job is a little weird for that, but at my last job, every software engineer was male except for me. Our QA staff was around 50/50 male/female. Our business analysts and user experience folks were primarily female. And the project manager was female.

      When we had group parties, I would usually end up chatting a bit more with the other women than the men in my group. But there would always be the engineer conversations, and I’d be part of those.

      If they segregated us by gender, I don’t think we could keep from feeling that the boys’ side was “engineer territory” and the girls’ side was “non-engineer territory,” because the boys’ side would have a 10/4 engineer/non-engineer ratio and the girls’ side would have a 1/7 engineer/non-engineer ratio.

      I several times had the experience of someone assuming I was a business analyst or a QA person, because they didn’t see engineers as women. It would make me really uncomfortable to be seated at the “non-engineer table”.

      1. Software developer*

        I have been to “women only” outings of my company, which often seem to “admin staff” and me (software developer). My hobbies and most of what I enjoy revolves around computers and geeky games and geeky TV shows. Those hours can end up making me feel really excluded, and I often end up not talking that much. I don’t look forward to these occasions…

    5. Liz T*

      This is exactly the kind of comment that AAM has asked us not to make. Please don’t insult the OP, especially not because of one comment that doesn’t affect the larger issue (being segregated from the people you know best because of your sex).

      But regardless of the reason, we’ve been told repeatedly not to degrade the quality of the comment section by insulting the OP.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think it is fine to ask the OPs questions about what they think and why they think that way.

        But statements to the effect of “you think X way so that makes you a thus and such” are not just counter-productive. These statements also could effectively cause the withdrawal of the OP and prevent the OP from answering in the comment section. It’s in the presumptive nature of the comment. “We presume you are behaving poorly/thinking ill of others/having an ulterior motive/whatever, so here’s your comeuppance.”

        Here’s the kicker: If people want to behave badly they will just go ahead and behave badly. They do not need to write for advice.

        People who are trying to do the right thing and trying to live decent lives will often ask advice from others. It’s a form of a self-check.

        Spoken words can be ambiguous. Written words have a much higher chance of being ambiguous. By the simple fact that people write into ask questions means that we can probably hold any ambiguity in a positive light and assume the best of intentions on the part of the LW.

        A LW who reads “well you are a thus and such” or “you think X,Y and Z” could say to themselves “These people don’t get me. They don’t understand my question. I am just going to stop reading and ignore the rest of the comments.”Which totally defeats the point of this blog. And I think defeats the goal of the commentators on this blog. No one is going to help anyone who has stopped reading.
        There is very little to be gained by holding the words and thoughts of the OPs in a negative light.

        1. Liz T*

          Asking questions is fine. “Ugh, get off your high horse” is an insulting thing to say, and not ambiguous.

  17. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    So, related to #4 – I think it’s worth clarifying something here. Alison, I hear what you are saying that candidates ARE, in fact, looking for a job because they need the money, and of course we shouldn’t pretend that money doesn’t matter.

    However, when a candidates basically asks for a specific offer during the first 15 minutes of the first interview, it communicates that they don’t understand the purpose of an interview. I always put a fairly narrow salary range in the job posting (like $35,000 – $38,500, DOE – it’s a nonprofit, and I generally don’t have a lot of room to negotiate, so I’m putting it out there upfront to save everyone’s time) and it does not give a good impression when a candidates wants to pin down salary before I even have a chance to learn more about their skills, as in “so, if you offered me the job, how much would you offer me within the range you listed?”.

    In any case, I think it would be worth clarifying that while it IS okay to ask about a range (or even ask them to narrow a wide range) early in the process to make sure that nobody is wasting their time, it’s not appropriate to ask for a specific offer before you’re even interviewed.

    1. Chriama*

      Well an offer would be so dependent upon the rest of the compensation package, right? But it’s good to know they’re looking to pay someone 50-60k if you’re looking to make 85k so you don’t wastes your time with an offer that no benefit backage can compensate for — and also so the company knows what 50-60k will buy them in the current job market.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yes, agreed – in my case, I have also provided a LOT of detail about benefits upfront as well (amount of vacation time, health benefits, etc.). Our benefits are really, really nice (which is not that uncommon in nonprofits…we’re making up for salaries with tons of PTO, etc.), so it’s a selling point I want candidates to see first. So, in these cases, I don’t really see why someone would need know if I would offer then $35K or $37K before they spend another 45 minutes talking to me….because the fact is that *I* don’t know what I would offer – that’s the purpose of the interview! :-)

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ah, but you’re specifying the range up front, so people already know if they are interested or not. If you don’t even know the range, only knowing that it is hourly and has no benefits, isn’t it worth asking for a general idea, so you know if it’s worth continuing the discussion?

      OP#4 doesn’t say if the range was specified, but most jobs do not have that vital piece of information.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, that’s the difference I see here — Ashley, you’re already handling your side of this beautifully by giving a range up front, and so I agree with what you say about people who try to pin it down beyond that early on.

  18. Eden*

    #1: I’m wondering, is there no male support staff at all? If OP is married, does her husband then have to go sit with a table full of strangers? I’d decline on that alone, the whole situation seems not to belong in the 21st century.

    Having said that, I do think the discussion of whether the OP’s complaint comes across as classist is interesting. While I understand that OP rightly feels discriminated against by virtue of nothing more than her gender, it’s strange to me that she can’t see the opportunity to bond with her support staff as a positive. Speaking from the perspective of an admin for multiple doctors, I can tell you that, rightly or wrongly, the doctors who treat me as a human being worthy of mingling with/speaking to will get better support from me than the ones who treat me as an automaton.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Looking back at the post, she does mention that there is both male and female support staff, and the male physicians and support staff sit together at the same table. I can still see how the complaint could come across as classist to some people, but reading back does make me think it’s more about her feeling uncomfortable with the fact that she’s essentially barred from interacting with her close colleagues and peers at this event on the basis of sex, rather than uncomfortable with being asked to interact with people at a different professional level. Presumably if she were seated with a mix of physicians (other than herself) and support staff of different sexes, she would be fine with it.

      Frankly, if I were the boss in this situation and had firm and extremely conservative religious beliefs like this, I wouldn’t invite my coworkers to family events. It’s a nice thought, but it should be pretty clear that these practices might make people uncomfortable, especially with people they know in a professional setting. Upthread it seems like people are assuming this is an Orthodox Jewish wedding, and as a (decidedly un-Orthodox) Jewish woman, I have declined invitations to events like this in the past because they contradict my beliefs. I also have some Orthodox friends who respect that I feel this way, and do not invite me to participate in events that will make me uncomfortable. Can’t imagine adding the minefield of a professional relationship, haha.

    2. Chriama*

      I didn’t get the classist impression from her letter, but I think a couple of people reacted to the way she described the other women. There’s another sexist stereotype about being a woman who doesn’t “like” other women, which usually describes someone who goes out of her way to be part of the boys’ club, to the extent of being disrepectful towards her female coworkers (with sexism you can never win!).
      I do think the concerns she brought up aren’t going to have the effect she fears, but I also wouldn’t look at this as an opportunity to bond with te female support staff. Why does she need to bond with them? It’s enough to treat them respectfully in the course of doing her job!

  19. Ethyl*

    LW 1– I think you would be better served in viewing the women you were/will be seated with as, you know, individuals with careers and hobbies instead of “doctor’s wives” and “support staff.” Many women, even women married to doctors, are accomplished professionals in their own right who, by custom and practice, occasionally attend their husbands’ work events. Many “support staff” are actual human beings that you could take this opportunity to get to know. I don’t disagree that the whole thing is icky but your attitude approaching this isn’t exactly covering you in glory either.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yes, because when faced with sexism so overt it’s not usually found in the modern world, the most important thing is to ensure one is covered in glory.

    2. EtOH*

      Her attitude rubbed me the wrong way as well. Her concern seems to be that she has to spend all evening “entertaining” the doctors’ wives and female support staff, as if they are children. And she finds it “awkward” that the male support staff gets to socialize with the other doctors, while she does not, as if she is above the support staff.

      The LW should definitely skip the wedding.

        1. Loose Seal*

          Mike C., I say this with respect since I think you are generally an awesome commenter; however, when there’s a topic that gets you going (usually the feminist/sexist topics), you can get a little rude. I appreciate your viewpoint but you should be aware that the more abrupt your comments get on these topics, the less likely you are to be heard on the actually importance of the topic.

          1. GeekChic*

            I don’t find Mike C.’s posts rude – just blunt. What I do find rude is any hint of: “Well – I would have listened to your arguments about sexism / racism / homophobia but you’re just so mean / angry / uppity so now I won’t.”

      1. Elsajeni*

        Or as if they are people who don’t know each other well, at a work-associated event, and she’s the highest-ranking representative of the workplace in sight and thus feels obligated to take on a “hostess” role? I entertained some friends at home last night. That doesn’t mean I consider them childish or beneath me; it just means I was the host.

        1. Ethyl*

          It’s not a work event, and her “ranking” may not even be applicable. A male doctor could be married to a senator, for example.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Right, but it’s a work-associated event, in the sense that none of these people would be there if not for their work connections and (especially the spouses) may not know each other at all beyond “Ah yes, your husband works at the Suchandsuch Clinic too, doesn’t he?” I’m not saying she’d feel pressured into the “table hostess” role because of some kind of general social superiority; the other women at the table could all be senators and CEOs, but she’s still the person with the closest connection to the host of the event, so if everyone at her table feels slightly awkward and out of place (which seems like a very reasonable way to feel if you go to your husband’s boss’s daughter’s wedding and are told, “Oh, you can’t sit with the one person you know at this event”) and is looking to others for social cues, she’s a likely target for them to look to.

      2. Software developer*

        Sitting for hours with people you don’t know well and who don’t share any of your hobbies can be really unpleasant. With software developer coworkers, I can usually find a lot to talk about, with the admin staff or can be really hard and awkward. Talking about the weather and the last vacation only helps for the first 30 minutes.

    3. Natalie*

      Really? She is describing a group of people within a specific context, in a short email to an advice columnist. Are you honestly suggesting she should have said “I’ve been invited to a work function that’s sex-segregated, so I’ll be sitting with a [Job 1], [Job 2], [Job 3], [ad infinitum] who aren’t my close colleagues.” The entire point is that she isn’t sitting with her close colleagues, but rather people she has a tangential relationship by virtue of the fact that they are married to her close colleagues. That is, they’re doctors’s wives.

    4. LBK*

      I think that’s a misreading of the situation. Let’s try it like this:

      I’m an operations worker in my 20s. The rest of the operations team is in their 40s, but because we work together every day we’re good friends and hang out together. The sales team are all in their 20s, but since we don’t do the same work and they sit in a different spot, I don’t really talk to them or know them well.

      The company hosts an event where they split us up into two rooms. They group us by age, so I’m the lone operations rep stuck with the sales team that I don’t know, whereas the rest of the operations team is in the other room.

      How does it make me a snob or a bad person if I’d rather be with the people I actually know and want to hang out with for a social event that I’m supposed to be having fun at? And how is it not extremely rude of the company to group us based on an arbitrary factor, especially when there is a non-arbitrary factor available? Yeah, I’m sure some of the salespeople are great people who I could get to know, but if I have a choice, why wouldn’t I rather spend time with the people I already know?

      I think people are getting too caught up on the fact that the OP is a doctor and is therefore separating herself out from the support staff. No duh she’s doing that; it happens in every job. People stick to their departments. Just because the OP’s department technically outranks the other department doesn’t make her a jerk for wanting to be with her familiar group. In fact, I’d find it kind of insulting if one of the managers felt like they were obligated to spend time with us – it’s kind of condescending, like we should feel graced by the presence of a superior.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Or put it this way: ‘being uppity for not wanting to sit with her own kind’ is a minor point that wouldn’t exist if the much larger issue of institutionalized separateness weren’t an issue.

      2. Ethyl*

        It may also be that people have a strong association between “doctor” and “pompous jerk who thinks they’re better than everyone.” I sure do, and hearing the LW describe women she doesn’t know as nothing more than mere appendages to the “real people” really rankles. I may attend my partner’s work events, but I also hold several degrees and have an actual career of my own as well as hobbies, plus I can read books too, all of which I’d be happy to talk about — unless someone treats me like some vacant-brained Stepford wife.

        1. Another Lauren*

          This is unfair. At no point in her letter did the OP say anything of the sort that you are saying here (“mere appendages to the ‘real people'”, “vacant-brained Stepford wife”), nor did she imply those things. She simply indicated that she feels the situation is awkward because those individuals are not her colleagues (they are not), and because she’d be excluded from conversations taking place amongst her colleagues (she would be). What she doesn’t say explicitly, but what is a potential fallout from not being included with her other colleagues, is that she is not seen as an equal amongst her peers. Even if you wouldn’t feel that way, it is reasonable for her to feel that way. In that case, not going would have the same effect, but at least she can be doing whatever she wants. As an introvert, I can personally empathize with this perspective (if I’m going to be excluded anyway, I’d rather be home watching a movie or spending time with my hubby vs. trying to make awkward conversation with folks who I don’t know, or don’t know well, or may have little to nothing in common with…).

  20. Cautionary tail*

    Op1, My spouse and I went to one of these events where the wedding was in a great big function hall with an accordian wall right down the middle that only stopped at the head table so that the bride sat in the female room at the same table and next to the groom who sat in in the male room. My spouse and I knew nobody there except the groom who we hadn’t seen in 20 years (late age wedding) so esssentially we knew nobody. We made do and started socializing as best we could with all the other people who were also awkwardly there and glad to just have someone else to talk to. We also texted each other a lot through the course of the evening sharing all the interesting things incuding this one: my wife was the only married woman at her table that had her own hair, all the others had shaved heads and were wearning wigs (mind blown!). It was a cultural expereience like visiting another country and culture except we didn’t need to go through airport customs and we appreciated it for what it was and what it meant for others.

    1. Liz T*

      That’s cool, but not everyone necessarily appreciates that. OP has been to one of these before–the Cultural Safari charm will have faded.

  21. Tinker*

    Not to be too pointed at anyone in particular, but I don’t think much of this “Oooooh, so ‘e thinks ‘e’s too good for blah blah blah” attitude that seems to come up at times when someone objects to being treated in a way that they’d rather not be treated. As regards this attitude in general, I think there’s generally enough prosperity and good feeling in the world (particularly since the latter is free) that a person can express a desire for some preferable thing without having to touch their cap and mince.

    And in this case in particular, it seems like it ends up kind of dumping on the OP for having thoughts supposedly above her station in that she wants to be grouped with her professional peers at an event that is effectively work-related rather than with her peers in the matter of gender, who are not her professional peers. Which is… kind of not cool.

    (I also note that the issue probably wouldn’t have been such a problem, practically if not philosophically, were it not for the very unfortunate complete coincidence that segregating by gender in that office puts seven doctors at one table and one at the other.)

    1. Chriama*

      I agree with that fact. I don’t agree with the OP’s stance, but I don’t think it’s respectful to make her out as a villain for having it.

      1. Chriama*

        I have to say, I also bristled a little bit at her use of the phrase “entertain the other wives” until I realized that she could also be using it in a self-depraciting manner. In other words, she felt forced in role of the “happy housewife” being forced to talk about dresses and babies with the other ladies while the men smoked cigars in the parlor and talked business. In that case, it’s not about looking down on a bunch of doctors’ (house)wives, but feeling like she’s being lumped in with the inconsequential womenfolk (who don’t have much in common because they don’t work together) while the menfolk (who are all colleagues) get the real work done.

        1. NatalieR*

          I took “entertain the wives” to mean that since the wedding was by extension a work function, and she was the senior member of the workplace present with the women, that it was her obligation to serve as host/entertain the spouses of her coworkers.

          1. Chriama*

            I could see that too. It’s just my first instinct was offense at the idea of the wives needing to be entertained than sympathy at the idea of her being forced to play hostess.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I reacted to “entertaining” as any good solid introvert. I know what she means. I can put on a happy face, crack a few jokes, talk with people and then go home totally exhausted. It’s work. I could see myself using the word choice of “entertaining” when no other word came to mind.
          Yes, I had fun and yes, I am tired all in the same stroke.
          I have a friend that also uses the word “entertaining” in a curious way. I asked her and she clearly said, “I would rather be home reading a good book. That is my number one way of having fun. I can turn on the charm and the wit when I need to. I prefer not to, it’s just not something I enjoy.”
          It’s too bad for the rest of the world. She is very funny, very intelligent and very caring. People pick up on that quickly.

    2. alma*

      I think a lot of these comments in inadvertantly demonstrate why some non-support women so strongly resist being seen as one of the support staff. Say yes, go along with the expectations that you’ll do support tasks, and you risk being seen as only the “helper” rather than as the trained professional you are. Say no, and you risk being seen as the snob who thinks she’s just “too good” to take notes or make coffee. It’s better to avoid even having to make that choice if at all humanly possible.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      I think people may also tend to have this attitude/reaction more towards women than men. Of course it’s very difficult to prove this with hard evidence, and I try to be careful of making sweeping generalisations based on anecdotes. Too often, though, I’ve observed women being called snobby or uptight when they, say, ask to be addressed as “Dr. Lastname” rather than “Mrs. Lastname” or even “Firstname,” when a man would get a pass on asking that people remember his professional title. Again, not pointing to anyone specific here, or even this comment section in particular. I do think it’s good to call out other possible prejudices too (such as possible classism), but in this situation I think there are so many reasons that this system of segregation at a work-related event might upset the OP that it’s probably best to hold off on judging her for a reaction that is most likely very reasonable.

      1. Calla*

        YESSSSS to the “Dr.” thing. Anyone remember when Jill Biden was slammed for preferring “Dr.” to “Mrs.”? And the reason was that she ~only~ is a professor and not a literal physician. She still paid for and earned that title, which is not restricted to MDs.

      2. illini02*

        I don’t know. If a guy said “I’m in management and I’m stuck sitting with the worker bees and not my other managers” I think he’d come off just as bad (at least to those of us who think the OP is coming off bad)

        1. alma*

          If men had to deal with “glass ceiling” issues the way women do, this comparison would be valid (and I would be sympathetic to the man in question).

          1. illini02*

            I’m not even getting into that point. I was referring to the comment that it wouldn’t be judged as harshly if a man said it. I think it would.

            1. Chriama*

              It depends on the situation. In this case some commenters didn’t acknowledge thhat that male support workers also sat with the doctors and focused on the fact that she didn’t want to sit with the female support staff. However, if all the genders in this situation were flipped, including the OP’s, I think the response would largely have been the same (with some people chiding the OP for feeling marginalized when one wedding is nothing compared to what women have to go through all the time).

  22. Loose Seal*

    What would happen if OP#1 just crossed over to the male side and sat down? I’ve never been to a segregated wedding, although I’ve seen them on TV. Are there ushers assigned to police the division of sexes or is it just understood that you don’t cross the barrier? Are people not of that faith made aware of this practice beforehand or are they just left mystified when their opposite-gendered spouse is sent to sit elsewhere? (This are just a question to satisfy my curiosity; I’m not actually suggesting the OP actually stage a protest by sitting where she pleases, unless she really wants to.)

    OP, do you feel as though you don’t have a strong bond with the other doctors on a day-to-day basis? If not, this three-hour event wouldn’t fix that even if you did get to sit with them. If you want a stronger bond, you need to be proactive in finding ways to do that, not relying on social events set up by someone else. Presumably, nothing is stopping you from inviting your colleagues to golf, bowl, go to a strip club, to a Super Bowl party you are hosting, or to a book reading; I would imagine medical conferences would be a great time to bond, if you can get away from the office at the same time. If you feel as though you have a strong bond already, missing this wedding won’t matter in the great scheme of things.

    1. Mike C.*

      Just because there are other times to bond or that this single event won’t change everything in one go doesn’t mean it should be tolerated.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        On the other hand, not everything has to be an occasion for civil action.

        I don’t know your life, Mike, so it may be that you deal with all kinds of being marginalized in ways I can’t even imagine. And I don’t want for a moment to suggest that it’s wrong for a dude to be sensitive to and supportive of the issues women routinely face in our modern, not-even-remotely-post-chauvinist world. I appreciate all the help we can get.

        But I have to say, there are times that your comments make me tired (after I’ve let go of being annoyed). Some of that is my own issue; I seem to reach my sarcasm threshold way before you reach yours and evidently before other commenters reach their own.

        Sometimes, though, it’s hard not to see some of your comments as telling women how they ought to respond to or feel about things, which is not helping. If a woman says “Hmm, $thing doesn’t bother me,” and a man says “Are you kidding? Holy smokes, $thing is the most sexist thing I’ve ever seen”–or if a man says “It would bother you if you were a woman”–that man is invalidating that woman’s experience. In some discourse communities this is known as “mansplaining.”

        I hope I’m right that you don’t mean to be giving offense with your well-intentioned support. This bugs me in every thread that has anything to do with sex and gender issues, so today I’ve finally gritted my teeth and said something.

        Alison, I apologize for what may despite my efforts be a total derail. If you need to delete this comment, I’ll understand and not argue.

        1. Chriama*

          Don’t want to pile on Mike C. here because I like hearing your views. However, sometimes I think it’s better to be nice than be right. I don’t support sexism and I wouldn’t choose to interact socially with people who do — but I don’t think the OP owes it to womankind to be offended by this and make a stand. I think it’s ok for her to tolerate it, especially if not tolerating it is a symbolic gesture that would take a lot of effort and not have a lot of payoff.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m not advocating a specific course of action, outside of maybe not going. I made this point much further up the thread.

        2. alma*

          Not going to address the rest of your comment, but I don’t think Mike was calling for “civil action.” He was shooting down the implication that it doesn’t matter so much because it’s a one-time event or there are other ways to bond with colleagues.

          1. Loose Seal*

            But there are other ways to bond with colleagues. It’s ridiculous to think that this is the only time, ever, that the OP could do that. Like all of us, OP should be in charge of her own bonding/networking, if she thinks that’s important.

            1. alma*

              No one, least of all OP, made the argument that it’s the ONLY time she could ever bond with her male colleagues. But it’s irrelevant. Just because she can bond/network at other times doesn’t mean it sucks less to be specifically excluded based on gender in this one particular instance.

        3. Tinker*

          Ehhhh… kinda sorta?

          On the one hand, there does come to be a point where when someone who… well, let’s identify the spade… doesn’t have to deal with the matter in a directly personal sort of way gets to kind of jumping up and down and saying “you don’t have to take that! you don’t! you don’t!” and… well yeah this is true, but it’s not always practical on the ground. It’s equally a part of dealing with sexism that people who are the targets of misogyny get to choose sometimes not to put their faces in a particular blender, and that’s a legitimate choice that deserves respect.

          On the other hand, it is kind of refreshing to see a person who does, consistently, speak up and say “no, this thing is still wrong” in a world where often times people don’t — where you hear a lot of “oh, that’s not really actually wrong”, “well, okay, this is wrong but not the sort of wrong that you ever do anything about”, “oh, it’s not really that big a deal this once, is it?” and “aren’t you overreacting a bit, dear”? And to a degree, the fact that the person may not be directly affected amplifies the refreshing effect.

          I think the line here is maybe one of being a bit more cautious of landing on the side of the line that conveys that one can deal with a problem that affects oneself (and that it is, indeed, a problem), rather than the side that conveys that one absolutely has to employ direct confrontation.

          1. Mike C.*

            Yes, exactly. I’m not advocating direct action here, I’m simply trying to point out that there is actual harm being done, and that things could be better.

            There are way too many times I’ve seen where my word is taken at face value whereas my equally (usually much better qualified!) women peers are questioned.

        4. Mike C.*

          I’m not trying to tell women to do anything. I’m voicing, as a member of the majority, of the privileged, of the group who gets to start on third base and claim I hit a triple, that there are serious problems here.

          Any time I make a statement along the lines of “Are you kidding? Holy smokes, $thing is the most sexist thing I’ve ever seen”–or if a man says “It would bother you if you were a woman”, it’s only to challenge what I see to be commentary diminishing or dismissing outright the harm caused to others. Too many out there have a habit of saying, “Well it doesn’t bother me, therefore it shouldn’t bother you” or “I don’t see or understand the harm being done, therefore it doesn’t exist”. Sometimes this is explicit, other times it’s implicit. What I am not doing, and I’ll try to be more explicit here, is to say “you need to do X, despite the cost/risk associated with it”.

          By saying, “this is something that shouldn’t be tolerated”, I’m not literally saying “Die on this hill, fight to your last” and so on. Instead what I’m trying to get across is an understanding that “No, this is actually a bad situation that you shouldn’t have to deal with” and “if you feel the need to act, know that there are folks out there who support you in that”.

          1. Loose Seal*

            Yeah, but Mike C., when women tell you that they are having an issue with how you personally defend womenkind, you don’t really get to come back and tell those women that they are wrong and you are right because: reasons. That is specifically the mansplaining Aunt Vixen is talking about.

            1. Mike C.*

              Aunt Vixen said the following: Sometimes, though, it’s hard not to see some of your comments as telling women how they ought to respond to or feel about things, which is not helping.

              Yes, telling women what to think, do or feel is harmful. But I’m not telling any woman what to think, do or feel. That is not my intent. If there’s a place I’ve done this, please point it out! But given that this line of responses started out of a confusion that I was advocating for direct action when I was not, I believe I’m allowed to clarify my previous statements.

              1. Loose Seal*

                I’m not going to parse your statements because I don’t think that will actually be helpful to this conversation and, given the number of comments today, I can’t remember if you specifically told the OP what to do but you have certainly intimated that she shouldn’t tolerate this when it isn’t up to you to suggest what she tolerates.

                I appreciate the fact that you stand up for groups that don’t have the privilege you have. But I think what you’re missing is whether the group needs you to do that. In your personal life and in your workplace, from your descriptions it does sound like your point-of-view is helping pave the way for women (and I do think that marginalized groups need the privileged group to help them out, at least at first, until they get a toehold). But here, where there is a vibrant community of strong women capable of standing up for themselves, what are you doing?

                1. Loose Seal*

                  He can do whatever he wants. I’m letting him know why I think it comes off as unwanted and unnecessary here. People are free to disagree with what I’ve said to Mike C. — as is he — but the “just because he’s a man” argument is a pretty tired one from my viewpoint, as it’s a way to make women feel bad for denying a man the right to speak.

                2. Mike C.*

                  They certainly don’t need me to do anything. But at the same time we’re talking about people who are defending overt and obvious sexism. Usually when these issues come up we’re talking about nuanced issues and looking at data from long term studies, but this is in your face, clear, obvious, fit for an educational coloring book sexism. The fact that people here believe the OP has no right to be upset really pisses me off.

              2. Jamie*

                Fwiw I think part of the problem is you seem to be using the phrase “this should not be tolerated” to mean (and correct me if I’m wrong) that society as a whole shouldn’t tolerate this ::insert issue:: and we shouldn’t act like it’s not a bfd.

                But when I (and others) hear “this should not be tolerated” I think the common interpretation is that it the person experiencing ::insert issue:: is morally obligated to take a stand for the greater good.

                I don’t think you mean it that way, but it’s absolutely how I would interpret that phrase about just about anything. I will not tolerate people being asked to work off the clock – so everyone who works with me knows that if that ever happens to come and get me or anyone else up here and it will be corrected and the person who asked you to do that will be in BIG TROUBLE. Because it’s not tolerated.

                Sometimes, in our lives, we have to tolerate things we don’t agree with. If she declines to attend the wedding, as I would, she’s still tolerating the situation because she’s not REFUSING TO TOLERATE THIS TYPE OF SEGREGATION. She’s letting people do what they do and just opting not to participate.

                And I don’t for a second think you were advocating her picketing the wedding, but you have a very direct and extremely passionate manner of speaking on certain issues and I can easily see how people can see your anger at the status quo as a call for individual action right now – even if that’s not your intent.

                IOW I don’t think you, Mike, are condescending or patronizing, but I can see how some of the emphatic statements can make it seem as if you are.

                And tbh if I felt I was somehow being discriminated against because of my gender and someone’s response was along the lines of “OMG that’s horribly sexist and no one should tolerate it and people shouldn’t get away with doing that!” (paraphrasing) I might appreciate the emotional support, but it’s also going to make me feel like I’m a pushover and weak if I can’t die on that hill – because I know the political ramifications better than someone on the internet and I have a family to feed with will always take precedence over falling on my sword for a cause – however noble that cause may be.

                TLDR – I believe you are well intentioned but sometimes the delivery can come off as if issuing calls to action from someone with no skin in this particular game.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  This! Jamie, you have such a way of hitting the nail on the head and what you said helped me to clarify why the “tolerate” statements are coming across so wrong-footed for me. (Personal musing ahead…) For me, I’m always trying to figure out what kind of feminist I am and how much I’m willing to give to help feminism progress. Some things are my hill to die on and some aren’t and it’s tough to say in advance which is which. And my hills won’t be the same as others’ hills. So when a man who has no dog in this race says that something shouldn’t be tolerated, it challenges my notions as to what kind of feminist am I, especially if I had already decided it wasn’t my hill (extrapolating here since this is OP’s hill). So hackles get raised quickly.

                  Mike, I also believe you are well-intentioned which is why I keep coming back to this conversation. Otherwise, I’d let you twist in the wind without having the opportunity to learn from this exchange how you are being taken.

            2. alma*

              It’s really rare that I encounter an accusation of “mansplaining” that I disagree with, but I have to say I do in this case. I am a little frustrated that the female OP has been hit with a completely disproportionate amount of criticism for supposedly being snobby, classist, not knowing her place, being on a high horse, having the wrong “tone” when she objects to a sexist situation… basically, the “you aren’t being nice enough” stick that women have been hit with since the dawn of time. Yet the thing oppressing women here is a male commenter who disagrees with those charges and thinks the situation is unfair to OP? Sorry, I just can’t get on board with that at all. Many women have pointed out the same things that Mike has. Are we -splaining in some way, too?

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                Taking the last part first: no, of course women pointing out the same things as a mansplaining man aren’t -splaining; part of what makes mansplaining a problem is that a man can almost by definition not be an expert in what it is like to be a woman in a particular situation. Nobody can have anybody else’s experiences for them, of course, but in particular there are well-meaning people who genuinely try to help those less fortunate than themselves and end up being patronizing rather than helpful. (See, e.g., Isaac Jaffe telling Dan Rydell “You’ve got to stop thinking of me as the champion of all things black.” And try, for the purposes of this example, to disregard how -splainy Aaron Sorkin kept. on. being. throughout the late 90’s and early 00’s.)
                I don’t think The Thing Oppressing Women in this thread is Mike being indignant on the OP’s behalf. –I think the OP’s frustration is 100% understandable and about 90% misplaced, as I said somewhere higher up–to restate and possibly clarify, I think she’s right to be annoyed (at a minimum!) at a sex-segregated reception, and wrong to expect that it will be changed because of her. Colleague Or Employee Of The Bride’s Father is not a high-enough ranking guest to overthrow any decision made by the hosts; the actual problem is one of treating professional connections as social ones.
                –Anyway, I don’t think The Thing Oppressing Women is Mike’s indignation on OP’s behalf. But I do often, in many threads besides this one, think Mike can get overzealous in his calling-out of things that he is right to believe women will find offensive. Put another way: I don’t think Mike is saying I, or any other woman, ought to be offended by something I don’t find offensive but he would if he were a woman. I usually do agree with Mike that the things he calls out as problematic are indeed problematic. What bothers me is sometimes the sort of white-knightery in general–not that I think he thinks we need him to rush in and defend us, but it can in fact be wearying to be doing just fine and have one’s discussion joined, even on one’s own side, by a noisier party; and the sneering sarcasm in particular. Like I said, though, that last is likely my own issue more than anything else.

                1. alma*

                  I think the OP’s frustration is 100% understandable and about 90% misplaced, as I said somewhere higher up–to restate and possibly clarify, I think she’s right to be annoyed (at a minimum!) at a sex-segregated reception, and wrong to expect that it will be changed because of her.

                  Well, this is actually a good example of what I’m frustrated about. OP did NOT expect the wedding to be changed based on her objections. She expressly said, “nor do I think it is reasonable that he create a table for men and women to sit together if that is religiously or culturally inappropriate at these events.”

                  It seems like a lot of commenters here are telling OP how she thinks and feels — “you obviously see the wives and support staff as lesser” — so my question is, do we actually care about women being listened to? Do we actually care about words being put in their mouths? If so, I kinda think the stuff that’s been leveled at OP is WAY more out of bounds than anything Mike has said. It doesn’t mean we can’t discuss both things at once, of course, but the inconsistency is a little jarring to me.

                2. Aunt Vixen*

                  You’re absolutely right that I, along with a large majority of the commenters, were responding to the thread rather than to the OP’s original question. I regret that and have attempted to answer the question as it was asked below.

                  But in Mike’s case, I was quite deliberately addressing the thread rather than the original question–I mean, I didn’t suggest that I was doing otherwise. But saying that what’s been lobbed at the OP is way worse than what Mike has said in this thread today is both (a) true and (b) not really a relevant response to the fact that (after a number of threads–the other one that leaps to mind is I Have To Wear My ID Badge At Chest Height, but I know it hasn’t just been that one and this one) I’d had it up to here with Mike and was hoping a gentle-ish correction would be appropriate because I didn’t want to skip ahead to just ignoring him.

                  Put another way: you’re not wrong, but you’re also derailing my derail. :-}

                3. alma*

                  Fair enough, but it seems like this is the type of issue that is best addressed with Alison rather than derailing the OP’s already severely-derailed question. I probably have not always lived up to that standard myself, so I get it, but this just seems to tack more drama onto an already over-dramatic response to a simple question.

                4. Katie the Fed*

                  Ah, this is what I was trying to say above to Mike. I couldn’t quite capture why it was bugging me.

          2. Aunt Vixen*

            This comment, especially the last paragraph, sounded much more helpful and reasonable than the general tone (and I know! I’m sorry! the tone argument fallacy is real and I don’t want to perpetuate it, but tone is also real, augh) of those I was responding to earlier. Thanks for your clarification. I certainly, like I said, don’t want to lose an ally. :-) My goal was to sort of … hopefully have a lateral effect on your allegiance.

            1. Mike C.*

              Your posts were just fine, and I appreciate the thought you put into them.

              Sure, there are times I should hold back a bit more, but at the same time I don’t think I should be meek in saying, “it’s ok to think this is a bad situation because it is a bad situation”. I don’t know, it’s something to think on.

          3. Liz T*

            Yeah okay but…words have meanings. So if you say “this must not be tolerated” we will assume you mean “this must not be tolerated” rather than just “this is bad.” If you say “this is the most sexist thing I’ve ever seen” we will read “this is the most sexist thing I’ve ever seen.” (And it doesn’t matter if this is the MOST sexist thing. Ranking how sexist things are is actually a common derailing tactic, and I know that’s not a door you intend to open.)

            I haven’t been keeping track of whether or not you tell people what to do but…words have meanings, and (particularly in print) we should say what we mean rather than expecting people to know that we mean something totally different.

            1. Mike C.*

              Your posts were just fine, and I appreciate the thought you put into them.

              Sure, there are times I should hold back a bit more, but at the same time I don’t think I should be meek in saying, “it’s ok to think this is a bad situation because it is a bad situation”. I don’t know, it’s something to think on.

              1. Mike C.*

                Sorry, that was for Aunt Vixon, but there’s nothing wrong with what you’ve said either. I could have certainly been more clear here.

                1. Liz T*

                  For the record, I’ve been enjoying your comments overall. It’s only the one I directly responded to with which I have an issue–because I don’t like it when people say one thing and expect others just to know they meant another thing. “Words have meanings” has become a slogan of mine.

          4. Eliza Jane*

            What’s interesting about this is that when I read “Just because there are other times to bond or that this single event won’t change everything in one go doesn’t mean it should be tolerated,” I interpreted it not as, “Don’t tolerate this,” and more of a “you don’t have to tolerate this just because there’s other options for bonding.” And when I read, “this is something that shouldn’t be tolerated” I read it as “This isn’t something women should still have to be tolerating.” I never read it as an instruction to feel a certain way or take a certain action.

            As a result, I spent this thread thinking, “Yes! Go, Mike C!” If I’d read it as an instruction, I’d probably have been thinking, “Grr, let us decide how to fight our own damn battles!”

      2. Eden*

        Okay, but how’s she supposed to ‘not tolerate’ this? She probably isn’t going to change her boss’ religion. While I completely agree that this kind of overt sexism needs to be buried, I am not seeing a way to effectively protest this. It seems like the real question here is, how should one respond to situations like this? Not go? Go and try to make the best of it? Go and make a scene by crossing the gender line in protest?

        1. alma*

          I think not attending the next wedding is a perfectly valid way of not tolerating it (albeit, OP presumably knows her own boss/workplace well enough to know if this would fly).

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            OP presumably knows her own boss/workplace well enough

            Hoping a little turnabout (of your 4:00 pm comment) will be okay: the OP expressly said, “Is it proper etiquette to decline to attend? I … don’t want to insult him…. Any advice on how to handle this?” In other words, I don’t think she’d have asked the question if she knew for sure whether or not this would fly.

            That is: some of us are responding to comments, rather than to the original question. No hard feelings.

            1. alma*

              It’s okay but I don’t really see the point. If people were making neutral inferences about the OP, which I think “knows her workplace” is — fair enough, I probably wouldn’t care so much.

              When people make inferences like “you are a snob who thinks you’re better than wives and support staff,” that is a whole other flavor of assumption that I think requires more justification than a mildly questionable word choice.

        2. Chinook*

          “It seems like the real question here is, how should one respond to situations like this? Not go? Go and try to make the best of it? Go and make a scene by crossing the gender line in protest?”

          I personally wouldn’t cross the literal gender line at a wedding, But I have done it many times in my family when all the women have drifted to one room and the men all to another. This family has some old world ideas ingrained into them about gender and my dad is actively trying to change (and has a lot since he became a house husband), but the split still happens. But, often I am more interested in what the men are talking about (computers, hiking and canoeing) than the women (their kids, their jobs, decorating). The first time I joined the men, joking comments were made but now nobody bats an eye when one cousin will join the women when they are cooing over his son or my sister joins us in geek speak.

    2. Chriama*

      I think that would actually be really disrespectful. This event isn’t about her! She doesn’t have to go, but if she does she should respect the social norms of the people having the event.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Yeah, but my question was more along the lines of how would one know you’d be segregated, not the respect part. Although, I personally don’t think one should go out of one’s way to respect a religion that separates by gender and I probably wouldn’t go to the wedding if I knew in advance. And since my mouth tends to get me in trouble, I’d probably tell the boss exactly why as opposed to making up an excuse. But again, I’m not suggesting the OP do that, unless they want to.

        1. Chriama*

          You’re right, I didn’t read the rest of your comment properly. I think it probably has more to do with the seating chart. I’ve heard other commenters mention there’s a physical barrier, but I bet when they come into the reception hall they’re just directed to 1 side of the room or the other. If someone came in with their spouse and seemed confused, I bet an usher would explain it to them. And after that point, the weight of social disapproval would keep people from crossing over. But it’s amusing to imagine someone crossing over to the other side and getting tackled by a squad of ushers.

    3. Sal*

      Oooh, my cousin’s wedding was sex-segregated (Orthodox Jewish) and I literally cannot imagine someone crossing and sitting on the “wrong” side. My expectation would be that another guest/family member/whoever would rush up and usher the errant guest to the “right” side. It’s also pretty clear as you come in that everyone is dividing up based on sex–you’d have to be willfully ignoring what the other guests are doing to go to the “wrong” side.

      In any event, I’m familiar with this type of religious/cultural practice (large chunk of one side of my family), but I also f***ing hate it and I don’t really ever want to go to another one ever again. Also, the men get the good booze (many bottles of hard liquor) and the women get one measly bottle of dessert wine per table. WTF. (This also tends to explain how they get the men up and dancing by themselves.)

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        ISTR a bar mitzvah at which my mom and I had to sit separately from my dad and my brother. (I think it was opposite sides of the aisle, rather than a screened or out-of-the-way women’s gallery, but it was a long time ago and I can’t be sure.) Oddly, the cousin whose bar mitzvah I think I remember that was is the son of an aunt who damn well counted herself as one of the minyan at both my grandparents’ funerals, so … I don’t know, I assume they changed congregations some time between his bar mitzvah (when I was eight) and my grandmother’s death (when I was 17). There was no such separation at that cousin’s wedding. :-}

    4. Zelocity*

      Because it would be rude to the hosts, and could possibly offend her boss who invited her. If you attend an event as a guest then you are making an unspoken promise to adhere to the guidelines for the event. The OP knows about the sex segregation now, therefore she can choose whether or not she wants to attend.

  23. AnonyMouse*

    I think people may also tend to have this attitude/reaction more towards women than men. Of course it’s very difficult to prove this with hard evidence, and I try to be careful of making sweeping generalisations based on anecdotes. Too often, though, I’ve observed women being called snobby or uptight when they, say, ask to be addressed as “Dr. Lastname” rather than “Mrs. Lastname” or even “Firstname,” when a man would get a pass on asking that people remember his professional title. Again, not pointing to anyone specific here, or even this comment section in particular. I do think it’s good to call out other possible prejudices too (such as possible classism), but in this situation I think there are so many reasons that this system of segregation at a work-related event might upset the OP that it’s probably best to hold off on judging her for a reaction that is most likely very reasonable.

    1. Tinker*

      Yeah, it does strike me as kind of odd that this objection comes up now, as it were. I do think that there’s a delicate balance in terms of hierarchy, between recognizing that one person is more accomplished than another and also recognizing that both people are equal in terms of basic human value. That said, I think it’s often true that people recognize the problem more in cases like this where the person being arguably slighted is part of a minority — I think especially in the matter of gender, because of the particular shape of cultural expectations with regard to gender where the expected role of women is not to expect reward.

      I don’t think it’s a conscious or particularly large error in the case of people who do it — it’s just that our culture puts a thumb on the scale as to what we perceive as “equal” or “fair”. There’s a thing that was mentioned here recently, I think, maybe even in this thread — a series of studies of how people perceive an “equal” gender distribution. Seems like there have been several of these, of cases where men and women are in a meeting talking, or a teacher is calling on boys and girls in a class, or a group composed of men and women. The results seem to be consistent that people see a representation of around 30% of women — women talking, or being called on, or existing 30% of the time, as being proportionally representative. When women are present 50% of the time — as one would expect, of course, all other things being equal — the event is perceived as being dominated by women.

      The result, I think, in this case, is that we are legitimately uncomfortable with hierarchy in general, but when the person who is proposed to be “higher” is a woman we’re more likely to speak up and say “whoa, whoa, that’s unfair, that’s overreaching”. And maybe we can go back and say that yes, any doctor should not be slighted by being grouped with his colleagues’ partners and the office support staff on the basis of some (largely, haha) unchangeable personal characteristic. Maybe it should be tried? I mean, if it’s perfectly good for the one doctor who is female it should be fine for the other seven doctors, yes? But still, I think we’d do better by thinking twice when scenarios like this come up, about why it is that we mark one thing out as notable and perhaps not another.

      1. Eliza Jane*

        The numbers are even lower than that, if the study cited by Geena Davis in her NPR interview last year is correct (disclaimer: I haven’t viewed the study myself, but it was cited as part of a research project Davis’s group on gender and media performed). 1-in-6 was viewed as equal numbers there. 1-in-3 was viewed as female-skewed, even though there were twice as many men as women.

        I don’t know if you have specific studies for your numbers. If so, I’d be really interested in reading them. I read the Davis interview several months ago, and have been frustrated by my inability to follow up.

  24. Jason Rossiter*

    Regarding expenses question — that employer’s expense reimbursement policy is absolutely illegal if the employee in question is in California. California employers generally have no discretion to deny reimbursement of expenses incurred by employees in the course of their employment, even if the employer finds the expense excessive, or unreasonable, or violative of its policies. The employer can take disciplinary action against employees who incur expenses that the employer deems unreasonable, but the expenses themselves must still be reimbursed. .

  25. Katie the Fed*

    Alison – have you thought about doing a wedding/work extravaganza consolidating all these types of questions and any others that have come up? It’s such a unique circumstance – might be fun to see them all together. and some standard ones like:

    – should I invite my boss/coworkers/subordinates to my wedding?
    – Do I have to attend my boss/coworker’s/subordinate’s wedding?


    1. AB Normal*

      Or things we already know are wrong but see happen anyway:

      “Can I invite some people from work and keep gushing to everybody about the food etc., while others are only invited to the bridal shower and pressured by the close coworkers into giving $20 toward a gift card?” Ugh. Happened twice to me this year.

  26. BCI*

    It has been exhausting reading Mike C.’s increasingly militant method of voicing his opinion. Mike C., if you’re reading this, your abruptness and sarcasm are putting commentors on the defensive. If you’re trying to change someone’s view, there are much more constructive ways of doing so.

    1. alma*

      I don’t want to add to the derail, but I will say that I disagree with you and do not find Mike “militant.” He’s kept on topic and IMO hasn’t been anywhere near as personal as the people attacking OP#1 (who, we should all remember, is also a person who sought help for a sticky work situation).

      1. BostonBaby*

        I don’t comment much but I have to agree with Alma. Yes I get that people get annoyed with Mansplaining, but that isn’t how I’ve been reading it. I’ve read pretty much every comment (slow day at work) and he has been more on topic than most and more charitable than most have been to the OP.

        As a female Admin Assistant I totally get what the OP is trying to say and I’m not at all offended, even if I were I don’t see the point in arguing this as much as we have. Her question was about whether it was okay to politely decline based on her uncomfortablity and how to go about doing so. That is what we should be focused on, not whether or not she is ‘snobby.’

        I and other’s have been just as exhausted reading this apparent need to attack/judge and OP that we don’t know based on not the best word choice, but we aren’t going about attacking other commenters personally.

        So basically Mike just as you don’t speak for all women (and I don’t think you think you do) BCI doesn’t speak for all the other commenters.

    2. LBK*

      I don’t agree. I just read it as balking at some of the things other people find acceptable. Sometimes bluntness is the only way to make it apparent just how ridiculous the situation is.

    3. GeekChic*

      You don’t speak for all commentors – so stop trying to. I find Mike C.’s comments on this thread some of the least offensive ones here. All the ones calling the OP “snobby” on the other hand…

    4. Zelocity*

      This is entirely off-thread and unnecessary. There have also been other voices on this thread that have been just as strong as Mike C.’s.

  27. soitgoes*

    It’s very hard to reconcile the idea that, at some point, most liberal-thinking people reach a junction at which they have to decide whether to prioritize feminism or multiculturalism. It’s something that, I feel, we’re not even allowed to talk about in progressive circles. Being accepting of certain religions and cultures (ie not asking them to change or become westernized) means endorsing the horrible ways that some of them treat women.

    OP1 works for someone whose fundamental beliefs mean that she (the OP) will never be as respected as her male peers. That’s something she needs to think about. Apparently the proposed solution is to not challenge his backward views; the OP is expected to deal with it out of respect for his religion.

    I find this comment section to be a fascinating view into how people still perceive women in the workplace.

    1. Loose Seal*

      OP1 works for someone whose fundamental beliefs mean that she (the OP) will never be as respected as her male peers.

      Well, it may be the bride and/or groom that is asking for the segregation, not the boss. I would recommend that, unless the OP sees signs of not being as respected as her male colleagues while actually at work, rather than this social event, that she not jump to conclusions as to how he views professional females.

      1. Chinook*

        I would also add that it may be the wife of the OP’s boss or the other family that is insisting on segregation, not just the bride/groom. Ironically, the boss’s only input may be in being able to invite his coworkers and yet he is the one getting tarred as being sexist. From what the OP wrote, it doesn’t sound like it is like that in the office.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      “OP1 works for someone whose fundamental beliefs mean that she (the OP) will never be as respected as her male peers. That’s something she needs to think about. ”

      Sometimes though, you go with family tradition for the sake of family tradition. I haven’t gone to church in, um, forever and my fiance isn’t religious, but we’re having a prayer at the wedding because it’s a nod to our families and their traditions. Our wedding is pretty traditional in most regards. Frankly, I’d rather have eloped but we’re doing this for the people in our lives.

      1. soitgoes*

        There are a lot of ways to be an observant Jew without subscribing to a variant that forcibly seats men and women in different sides of a room. As a Jew myself, I don’t respect the non-progressive laws of Orthodoxy, and I don’t even acknowledge Hassidism.

        In any case, the scenario you’re describing as the boss dictating the strictness of the wedding and the bride/groom just going along with it.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          True…but I guess I’m just saying it’s possible this is just tradition, and not representative of any strong beliefs he holds on gender issues. Possible. Unlikely though :/

      2. Chriama*

        “Sometimes though, you go with family tradition for the sake of family tradition.”
        I totally agree. Also, challenging your coworker on his “backward views” of how to host his daughter’s wedding isn’t a solution, it’s just disrespectful. And it probably won’t accomplish anything. When has a well-formed argument to an emotional belief ever truly changed anyone’s mind?
        Your first point makes a lot of sense — to what point do we respect other people’s views even if those views are disrespectful? However, I think it’s a little disingenous to claim that people are recommending the OP just accept this as blatant disrespect to her professional reputation (if that’s not your claim then I apologize, but your use of the phrase “proposed solution” makes me think it is). I think most commenters agree that the practice is rooted in sexism, but the disagreement is over
        a) whether the OP is actually being discriminated against and
        b) whether this will actually harm her professional credibility.

        To the first point, I would reiterate that this is a wedding, where people do all sorts of traditional things that don’t really appear in their daily lives. She may be under a blanket discrimination(because of the sexist nature of such a practice), but she, as an individual, isn’t being actively marginalized. All the other women there are in the same boat as her. To the second point, I would say the wedding isn’t really an issue. If the boss truly holds those beliefs, she’s in trouble either way. If not, standing against this on principle by not attending is her perogative, but it’s hardly striking a blow against sexism.

      3. Jamie*

        I agree with both you and Loose Seal – you really can’t evaluate ones commitment to religious tenets based on weddings. I know people who are not religious at all do the full deal at weddings. I’ve known a couple of atheists who had no problem baptizing their child because it meant something to their parents and they saw value in the cultural stuff surrounding it, even though it wasn’t meaningful to them from a religious standpoint.

        A lot of people don’t agree with that, but it happens all the time.

        I know people who have left both faiths who still consider themselves culturally Jewish or Catholic – because some want to hang onto the traditions and culture even absent sharing the religious beliefs.

        So the part of me who is unfamiliar with this segregation custom had a knee jerk reaction of wariness that the boss may have sexist beliefs to which the OP should be alert, but who am I to say he’s not just conforming to his custom for tradition.

        If this were not a milestone I think it would carry more weight – but nothing gets many people cloaked in long held tradition like marriage, births, and funerals.

        1. soitgoes*

          This is by no means a hard rule, but from what I’ve seen, Jews who are only culturally Jewish would not still engage in Orthodox practices for the sake of family. You adopt a less restrictive variant (conservative, reform, etc) based on how far you take your beliefs. Basically, there’s no reason to label yourself Orthodox if you don’t wholeheartedly have those beliefs. It’s actually a bit hard to maintain Orthodoxy these days, so people who do it have to do a lot of work to keep up with all the rules.

          1. Jamie*

            Oh I agree – and I’m not saying these people label themselves or try to pass as observant in either faith.

            But when it comes to weddings, births, and funerals usually the person who feels most militant about “how things should be done” wins. I guess I assume all weddings have the same level of oh, ffs, if it matters that much to you fine…go ahead. as mine did. With eye rolling.

            It’s very tough to be devout in any faith – at least the ones I know about because the rules are exhausting and it absolutely requires a commitment to it that I, as a Catholic (somewhere between practicing and lapsed – depending on how it’s defined) can’t imagine. The food rules alone in Judaism are spectacularly daunting. All the faith in the world and I couldn’t be that organized or vigilant.

            And ITA that most people who are opposed to a certain practice won’t go along with it…but if they are ever going to succumb to giving in it will be at one one the big 3 – birth, marriage, death.

            1. soitgoes*

              I agree with all of that. I guess I’m getting my hackles up over my assumption that the few Jews here are being drowned out by non-Jews who nonetheless are lecturing us on how Jews operate. (Not you! You’re being lovely.) Reform and conservative Jews openly call sexist Orthodox practices stupid. There’s no respect for them. So to have non-Jews talk about the need to have respect for the segregation…that’s just not how the specifically Jewish narrative tends to progress. I’m a reform Jewish woman, and I would never dream of working for an Orthodox-owned business. It’s possible that my own biases are coming into play, but the chances of a self-identified Orthodox man having equal respect for women are pretty much nonexistent.

              Mainstream Jews regard Orthodox and Hassidic Jews very similarly to how Christians regard Mormons.

              1. Observer*

                Mainstream IGNORANT Jews do that. Those who actually know their stuff – which you clearly don’t, based on your statements – don’t. Obviously they don’t agree on many things, but that’s a different story.

                The fact that you would never dream of working for an Orthodox owned firm speaks volumes.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I really think that comment is over the line. You can call someone mistaken or unaware without denigrating the person.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I know this is feeling personal to you, but I don’t want people calling others ignorant here.

                  It’s not just you, Observer — I’m hoping everyone will step back and take a deep breath on this thread. As Katie says, it’s escalated really fast and gotten out of hand. I’d love everyone’s help in deescalating.

                3. Observer*

                  You mean that claiming that Orthodox Jews are so horrible that one would never “dream of working” in a company owned by them is NOT offensive? I’m well aware that some Chirstians have, at best contempt, for Mormons. Saying that she looks at Orthodox Jews the same way is not supposed to offend me? Really? What exactly would she say that would justify my being offended?

                  When someone makes repeated incorrect statements about something, is that NOT ignorant?

                  When she uses this ignorance to justify a claim that “all x’s” have contempt for that group, is it really out of line to call it for what it is?

                  I don’t expect anyone to agree with the world view of Orthodox Jews. But, I wonder if anyone would have been able to make these statements about almost any other group, without being called on it first.

                4. soitgoes*

                  You’re only proving my larger point that multiculturalism throws feminism under the bus very often. I’ve offended a religion. Okay. That religion offends me. Also okay. Apparently the offensive tenets of religion get to demand a level of protection that my reciprocal distaste does not.

                5. Observer*

                  Soitgoes, no, this has nothing to do with feminism vs multi-culturalism. It’s about your repeated mis-statements. And about your broad brush condemnation based on totally incorrect ideas.

              2. Suz*

                ‘mainstream’? What does that even mean?

                I respect your beliefs and your right to an opinion, but I do think they stem from misunderstanding and what you’ve heard about Orthodox Jews rather than what you KNOW about Orthodox Jews. As the smallest example, in an Orthodox school, we were never ever taught that women were inferior. In fact, it was taught that women are spiritually on a higher plane than men (which some people may certainly object to- I always wondered why the guys never got their hackles up about that).

                My husband who converted through Orthodoxy learned the same things. Perhaps your experiences are unique to particular communities in America, but it’s certainly not my experience in the wider world.

                And yes, your biases are certainly coming in to play if you think an Orthodox man will certainly have less respect for women. That goes against Orthodox teachings and tradition. It goes against all the Orthodox men that I know and interact with.

                1. Liz T*

                  “Women are on a higher spiritual plane than men–that’s why they can’t be rabbis!” Sounds legit.

                  The pedestal has always been a way of keeping women in a certain place.

                2. Liz T*

                  (Simone de Beauvoir has a great line about men’s enthusiasm for women’s destiny, “one they would not for the world want to share.”)

                3. Suz*

                  Logical fallacy- one statement does not cause the other one. They are two separate ideas (and the second is debated and, from what I see, changing- it’s a matter of practice/tradition rather than law)

            2. doreen*

              I agree, Jamie. I’ve known a few cultural , totally non-practicing Jews who had their wedding receptions at kosher catering halls not because they cared, but because someone important to them ( often, but not always someone’s Grandma) couldn’t attend otherwise. It would not surprise me at all if the OP’s boss was not driving the seating arrangements.

              I have also worked with a number of Orthodox Jewish men who showed no lack of respect towards women. Of course I can’t say for certain what they believed or how they felt , but if they didn’t have equal respect for women they did an admirable job of hiding it.

          2. Astor*

            I mostly agree with this, except I went to a family bat mitzvah recently and was surprised to discover that men and women were seated separately (women on the sides, facing the men, men facing the front/bimah). I wouldn’t have identified that part of my family as Orthodox, and it sounds like they’re uncomfortable with the separation but find the trade-offs worth it for them as compared to their other local options. (I think that personally, they label themselves as Conservative, but the synagogue they go to *is* Orthodox and they don’t allow b’not mitzvah on Shabbat – translation: women aren’t allowed to do all the same rituals as the men, and the ones they’re allowed to do happen on less prestigious days.)

            I think it depends a lot on your city, but I’m aware of a few cities where people go to an Orthodox synagogue and I wouldn’t have noticed it from any other interactions. I suspect it doesn’t work that way in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Montreal, but it definitely does in some cities with smaller Jewish populations.

    3. Observer*

      Actually, we don’t know whether op1 works fro someone who will never respect her as much as a man, because we know nothing about the man except that he adheres to a tradition that segregates men and women at certain types of events. The thing is, though, that in Judaism (which is probably what we are talking about here), the two are totally unrelated. This is not about inferiority.

      Everyone has a right to their opinions, but facts are what they are. And, the FACT happens to be the Orthodox Judaism does not consider women as inferior.

  28. the gold digger*

    I think most commenters agree that the practice is rooted in sexism, but the disagreement is over
    a) whether the OP is actually being discriminated against and
    b) whether this will actually harm her professional credibility.

    I would suggest that some of the disagreement is also over whether the OP has the right to be unhappy about the seating arrangements.

    1. soitgoes*

      I agree. The OP doesn’t want to essentially say, “Here is an expensive gift. Now I will go take my rightful place at the back of the bus.”

  29. Chriama*

    OP#1 — I think I need to recalibrate my position. I’ve gotten so caught up in debating with the other commenters that I think I lost track of my own argument.
    OP, you were asking if it’s ok to refuse to attend, or if that would offend your boss. A wedding is a social event, so you should follow social ettiquette. “I would have loved to attend, but unfortunately I can’t.” Send a gift if you want to (because apparently that’s a thing that’s done), and make up a reason if he presses you for one, but don’t feel obligated to go.

    I got distracted by the other commenters who likened this to examples of professional women being marginalized, and I don’t believe this truly an example of that. However you, OP, don’t want to go to a social event where your colleagues will be interacting and you won’t be. In that case, don’t go.

    I’m going to bow out rest of this debate because I think I end up invalidating the OP’s feelings when I say it’s no big deal and she shouldn’t worry about being discriminated against. She didn’t say that was her concern.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “OP#1 — I think I need to recalibrate my position. I’ve gotten so caught up in debating with the other commenters that I think I lost track of my own argument.
      OP, you were asking if it’s ok to refuse to attend, or if that would offend your boss. ”

      Wow. I missed that too!

      Yes, you can decline. But I would send a gift to be on the safe side.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Quite right!

        OP: Miss Manners would advise saying something like “I’m so sorry, I’m afraid I just can’t” and then refusing to be drawn any further.

        If you decide to send a gift, and if you decide to go with sending them a check because the couple aren’t registered or nothing from the registry leaps out at you or whatever, allow me to suggest that a monetary gift in a multiple of $18 (because 18 is for chai, ‘life’) would be charming.

  30. Melissa*

    OP #3: I also work in academia, and this is actually pretty common – not reimbursing for non-itemized receipts. Previous jobs have that requirement for restaurants, although I can see it for hotels, too. I know for certain the reason for restaurants is alcohol – the university (and the federal government) can’t/won’t cover alcohol costs, even just a glass of wine with dinner. I can see this being an issue too at the hotel for room service – first to make sure you don’t go over the meal allotment and second of all to make sure that the costs don’t include crazy dry cleaning, bottles of wine, $4 cans of soda at the minibar, etc. I also did reimbursements at one place that required what I thought was an excessive amount of documentation to prove that I actually went on the trip – I had to provide boarding passes to get reimbursed for flights, for example. I think I may have also had to provide statements for certain kinds of expenses (not food).

    So yes, other organizations do it. I used to solve the problem by asking for specific kinds of receipts. At restaurants I ask if they will generate two separate receipts for me – one for alcohol and one for food. At hotels I will ask them for an itemized receipt. Hotels and restaurants in cities that host a lot of conferences are used to these kinds of requests and usually don’t have a problem doing this kind of thing. I also always have to remember to ask taxi drivers and SuperShuttle for receipts, ugh.

  31. Observer*

    I have NOT read all of the comments, and I probably won’t due to time constraints. But, as I’ve responded to some of the comments, I’d like to consolidate my thoughts on the wedding question.

    1. I totally get why the LW wouldn’t want to go, and there is no reason she should go if she doesn’t feel like it. From the etiquette pov, all she needs to do is respond that she will not come and best wishes. No gift required, no repercussions. And even though most of her male colleagues are going, the nature of the event makes it highly unlikely that they will get much networking, much less bonding done.

    2. I was irked by the way the LW described the scene at the first wedding. Her comment about entertaining the wives came off as very denigrating to these women.

    3. I can’t speak to other religions, but in Judaism, the separation at events of this sort has nothing to do with “superior” and “inferior”. And, while “separate is inherently unequal” MAY be true of educational facilities, it’s a kind of silly think to say when dealing with a bunch of people sitting in the same ballroom, listening to the same band with the same caterer etc. (And if your caterer is any good, both sides of the room are being served at the same time.)

      1. tesyaa*

        It’s considered immodest for men to see women dancing, even fully covered up women and even when the sexes are not dancing together. There’s also fear that mingling and socializing of the sexes will lead to inappropriate contact.

        You’re talking about people who go to single sex schools from kindergarten on and only meet on blind dates. In that atmosphere of sexual repression, even what society considers casual interaction is considered inappropriate.

        1. Nancypie*

          How does that translate onto the workplace (I’m not talking about the doctor, but in general) – is it ok to “mingle” with the opposite sex as one would need to do in the workplace?

          1. Observer*

            No real problem in the workplace (assuming that people act with some respect and professionalism). Some level of formality is preferable, though. This is a business relationship primarily, not a close friendship.

          2. soitgoes*

            Orthodox women do not generally work outside the home. There’s rampant poverty in the stricter branches of Judaism because the women aren’t allowed to work.

            1. Observer*

              This totally untrue.

              Yes, there is a fairly high rate of poverty in some segments of the Orthodox community, but the rest of it is just not true.

        2. Observer*

          Do you actually KNOW any Orthodox Jews? Because this sounds like it was quoted from someone who has probably never met a real, live practicing Orthodox Jew.

          1. Sal*

            It’s not inaccurate w/r/t Chabad+, in my personal experience with both Chabad+ and regular/modern Orthodox. I would call the second paragraph inaccurate with regard to regular/modern Orthodox.

      2. Student*

        It’s a belief that women morally corrupt men. Several religious sects believe that talking to, interacting with, and in the most extreme religious sects, looking at a woman will corrupt a man and lead him to do bad things. Including, but not limited to, rape of said woman.

        In a closely related note, the act of being raped is considered a crime in countries where these religions are dominant. In fact, the punishment for being raped was death over most of the world for most of human history. It’s part of the reason that even the most progressive, gender-equal places on the planet still struggle with how to address rape.

        1. Observer*

          Again, I speak only of orthodox Judaism.

          Let’s start with the least practically relevant, but most egregious issue. The punishment for being raped in Judaism have NEVER been death. In fact, a woman who has been raped is held to be completely innocent.

          I’ve addressed the claim that separate dancing etc. is based on the belief that women are morally corrupting. This is simply not the case. I have no idea of whether this is the case for other religions, but that really is not relevant to Judaism.

  32. Chriama*

    Op#3 — you’re mad enough to look for another job? Is that because of the policy or how it was presented? It’s definitely disrespectful to change it with no notice and worth pushing back on. However, other commenters have done a good job of explaining why a company might demand an itemized receipt (e.g. for a hotel, they’re only paying for the room so they don’t want you watching pay-per-view movies on their dime), and credit card statements are probably to prevent fraud (e.g. getting a discount from the company that didn’t show up on the receipt). Is there a larger issue at play here?

  33. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – yeah sometimes a detailed hotel receipt is required. When I go on the road I usually ONLY put the airfare, hotel room, and auto rental. Meals I pay cash for and get receipts. Other services paid for – if on the credit card, depends what it is.

    #4 – well – it’s not unusual to turn down a job if it doesn’t have the benefits you expect. Just say no.

  34. nonegiven*

    If I wasn’t comfortable going to the first wedding, I’d skip the second one. Also, if I knew ahead of time how the seating worked I wouldn’t have attended the first one, knowing I would be uncomfortable.

  35. Jeff A.*

    Late to the game on this, but to letter writer #3 above: I work for a private university in the Northeast and our business office requires submission of receipts (won’t reimburse for photocopied and/or faxed copies) and typically credit card or bank statements or copies of canceled checks. I believe this is intended to help deter and prevent fraud, but in practice it’s both incredibly annoying and adversarial to the faculty and staff here, and an often-cited source of frustration.

  36. Lamb*

    Re: the religious wedding
    Weddings are a time where lots of things are done because they are traditional. A number of comments assume the boss must be sexist because of the gender desperation at the first daughter’s wedding; would you assume a man viewed his daughter as property because he “gave her away”, or he judges those who don’t abstain until marriage because his daughter wears a white dress and veil which are symbols of virginity? No, because those are common traditions at American weddings. Wedding ceremonies and receptions which are sex segregated is a tradition of the boss’s religious herritage. His daughter having a traditional wedding does not on its own mean that he thinks any less of the female doctor on his staff.

    As for those who suggest that one shouldn’t invite people to events where they might be uncomfortable, how do you determine who will be uncomfortable with what? If the marriage ceremony is going to be recited in another language, should only people who also speak that language be invited because its uncomfortable to not know what people are saying? In the context of this letter, imagine if this boss had tried for that:
    “A few years ago my boss’s daughter got married and he only invited those of my coworkers who share his faith. His other daughter is getting married soon and it looks like the same thing will happen.”
    Now THAT sounds like blatant favoritism and something very likely to set back the LW’s career under boss, but could have been someone following that rule about not inviting people if they might be uncomfortable.

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