my office wants us to celebrate by wearing pink and blue by gender

A reader writes:

I am a nurse and I enjoy the festivities of Nurses Week, celebrated the second week in May. Until I received this official workplace email, suggesting that “ladies” should wear pink and “men” should wear blue to kick off the week. (See attached graphic.)

This email seems creepy and old fashioned, and I admit that I find the use of “ladies” objectionable.

And this morning I learned of a “fun activity” planned for Nurses Week: a baking contest among the nursing staff. I complained to my nurse manager, “Who thought up this bake-off? Do they think all nurses are women, and we belong in the kitchen?” She just laughed and thought the contest was a grand idea.

My workplace has publicly committed to be more inclusive and more sensitive to the needs of women and the LGTBQ community. Unfortunately, my workplace is also hierarchical, conservative, and very traditional – with plenty of folks who would likely favor these fusty ideas.

For the record, I am female and I love working with my diverse and awesome group of coworkers. For Nurses Week, I would prefer to be recognized for my sage contributions as an educated professional, rather than wearing pink and baking a cake. I think even Florence Nightingale (a free thinker and statistician with revolutionary ideas) would barf. If my manager does not mind these affronts, how far should I take this?

What. The. F.

Wear pink and blue by gender??

And a baking contest when they’re already being so weirdly gendered is … problematic. “Don’t forget your aprons, ladies!”

Since your workplace claims to value inclusivity and wants to be more sensitive to women and LGBTQ people (including, hopefully non-binary people), is there a person or team who heads those efforts? I’d go and talk to them, skipping your boss entirely. Alternately, you could talk to whoever is heading up this celebration of traditional gender roles, but I bet you’ll have more luck with your inclusivity people.

And if you can find some colleagues who are willing to add their voices to yours so it’s not just you being a Lone Cranky Feminist*, all the better.

* I want to sell Lone Cranky Feminist action figures.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 605 comments… read them below }

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m thinking green — at a place like I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wearing purple would be subject to transgender “jokes” that are just so inappropriate it would trigger drama if not firings. (Hopefully the person making the “jokes” but unfortunately possibly someone who’s upset enough to lose hizzorher cool.)

      1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        Ugh, I hate that this would even be an issue. I was thinking that’d be all the more reason to wear purple in solidarity, but not at the expense of causing more issues that could lead to harassment or firing (though I would hope they wouldn’t get THAT far).

      2. BlueDays*

        My first thought was to wear green too since that seems more gender neutral (I associate purple with girls because I see a lot of purple and pink stuff in the girls’ baby section of clothing stores). Though I like Detective Amy Santiago’s suggestion of black since black is the “absence of color.”

          1. Anonny*

            Monica Helms, creator of the trans pride flag, said the white stripe stood for “for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender.” So it’s appropriate for this, although given some of the work nurses do, probably not the most practical colour.

          2. LJem*

            Actually white is the absence of color but not light. Black is the absence of color and light. If you mix all the colors together you’ll get a hideous shade of brown.

            1. dunstvangeet*

              Depends. On lights, if you mix all the light colors (Red-Green-Blue) together, you’ll get white. Try it out, it’s fun!

              Technically, you’re right on subtractive colors. Theoretically, if you mix a pure red, a pure green, and a pure blue together, theoretically you’ll get black. However, there are mostly not colors that are pure of those shades. Therefore, you’ll mostly get a hideous shade of brown.

      3. M. Albertine*

        In the Pregnant Women online forums I used to frequent, the vernacular was Team Blue, Team Pink and Team Green (for those who choose not to find out sex before birth). Green is definitely appropriate.

          1. Jessen*

            Some of my online spaces also use yellow for people to indicate that they would prefer to be addressed with gender neutral pronouns.

          2. Tiny Soprano*

            My mother used to dress me in yellow when I was a baby because she didn’t like the whole gendered colours thing… it lead to people assuming I was a boy because apparently the only colour you can dress a girl in is pink but boys can get all the other colours…

            1. b*

              When my child was an infant I’d dress him in red. The cooing admirers would cagily as what the babie’s name was; “Pat” I’d say proudly.

            2. Kelsi*

              My mom shopped in the boys’ section for most of the time when my sister and I were small–not only did boys get colors other than purple and pink, when you get into the toddler-kindergarten age, they also got clothing that was made to be moved around in! She said so much of the girls’ clothing was either restrictive or just delicate, so that buying play clothes from the girls’ section was just throwing money away.

              I’m not sure if I got mistaken for a boy but my sister definitely did. And WHO CARES. IT’S A BABY. (Not aimed at you, but rather at the people who feel the need to aggressively gender the babies of strangers)

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                I have a toddler boy. I would dress him in anything he wanted to wear, including pink and dresses, but girl clothes all is skimpy, has thinner material, or lace, or little frilly edges, or tighter sleeves and legs, etc. He’s at the age where he is too hard on clothes for that. He has a WonderWoman and a Miss Marvel outfit and loves those, and he adores his Moana tee shirt, but I give in and dress him in boy gear because it is made to last not just to be rpetty.

            3. workerbee*

              2 anecdotes:

              When I was a baby, my mother dressed me in whatever she thought was most practical for playing, crawling around on the floor, etc., so usually “boy” clothes. People would coo at me, “aww, you’re too pretty to be a boy,” and my mom would deadpan, “that’s because she’s a girl.”

              Flash forward 33ish years. Random people assumed my daughter (now 2) was a boy because we used a blue stroller. WTF. Now STROLLERS have a gender, and they have to match the sex of your kid? I just liked the bright blue color!

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Hah my mom was Team Hand-me-downs – I wore my brother’s old clothes exclusively until I hit about 6. Lots of overalls and those little sneakers with the rubber toes. We also had matching bowl cuts.

      4. Kelly AF*

        Ooooh, yeah. I suggested purple as the mix of red and blue, but green or yellow are signifiers of “gender neutral,” for sure.

      5. Gadget Hackwrench*

        Fun addition to the green and purple discourse: the Genderqueer Flag is Purple, White and Green, to represent people who’s gender falls between man and woman, those with no gender, and those with a gender entirely off the linear spectrum respectively.

        So… both are very valid “break the binary” colors. :D

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Green, white, and violet 100 years ago stood for Give Women Votes. So it’s also a suffragist symbol. (If you find old jewelry with diamonds, amethysts, and emeralds together, you might have some suffragist symbolism on your hands.)

    2. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      I love this and now the Purple People-Eater song is in my head. Maybe blast it as they march into the building? After all, he doesn’t eat people who are “so tough!”

      1. Zephy*

        I’ve got Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple” on loop in my head.

        Start wearing purple, wearing purple
        Start wearing purple for me now
        All your sanity and wits, they will all vanish
        I promise
        It’s just a matter of time

    3. Lunch meat*

      I agree – if you can’t get them to cancel it, get as many people as you can to wear purple. In fact, i misread this at first:
      “I bet you’ll have more luck with your inclusivity people.”
      and thought “inclusivity purple” was a thing now.

    4. Drago Cucina*

      My husband used to wear purple OR shoes. But, only because he couldn’t find pink in his size. Pink is his favorite color. He also did it to be passive aggressive with a homophobic co-worker. He had lots of fun with his scrubs too when he was a contract CRNA.

    5. anon today and tomorrow*

      If they want to make a statement about more inclusivity for LGBTQA+ people, purple is definitely a good color choice.

      1. Chialea*

        What are the non-binary folks supposed to wear? Making them uncomfortable or forcing them to come out when they might not be ready is not ok.

        I would take it to whoever’s running inclusion, but also be public in advance about wearing something other than pink or blue as a gender-inclusion measure.

    6. MarsJenkar*

      I’d be looking in my closet for options myself. I lack any pink or salmon shirts in my own closet, or I’d be tempted to use one of those to troll the manager (I’m a dude). Blue is a very common color in my closet (I like blue), so I’d have to steer away from those. I have a few shirts in green, a couple in patterned black (with gold threading), and a couple in bright angry red–all good choices.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      Have everyone wear mismatched scrubs and have every color of the rainbow in each of your outfits. Floral tops, plaid bottoms, whatever.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve got my eye on Rosie the Riveter and Ruth Bader Ginsberg action figures myself…

      1. EPLawyer*

        There’s a Rosie the Riveter action figure? Must go find.

        Topic: I would wear blue just to mess with them. For baking, i got nothing. Which is exactly what you should for that little part of the festivities.

        1. I was never given a name*

          You could approach the baking the Parks & Rec way, by organizing people to invite their spouses/partners/friends to do the baking instead of nurses doing it themselves. You could even frame it as a way to highlight the contributions of the people in our lives who keep us going while we do the important work of health professionals.

        2. frostipaws*

          If you work in obstetrics, bake some buns; brownies for anything else. Those are the only two medical baked goods that come to mind.

        3. Hey Nonnie*

          Instead of baking, build a small robot?

          I joke, but I’d laugh to see the entire nursing staff upend the baking directive by defiantly “masculinizing” it.

      2. London Girl*

        I made a Stone Butch Barbie for a birthday present for my wife. 2mm cropped hair, jeans, customised tee shirt,and a handbag repurposed into a toolbox . Also customised work boots to conceal that the original was practically en pointe.

      1. Arya Snark*

        I was part of the original Kickstarter for RBG. She is proudly displayed on my desk holding an ITMFA pin in her hand.

    2. Granny K*

      I’d also buy that action figure. I’d put it next to my Ruth Bader-Ginsberg action figure.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      Me too. Put me on the waiting list if you ever go into production with them Alison!

    4. A CAD Monkey*

      do a search for IAmElemental .com, they may not have the “Lone Cranky Feminist” but they do have action figures geared towards positive messages for girls.

  1. Justme, The OG*

    Alison, I would totally buy Lone Cranky Feminist action figures.

    And I second your WTF to this whole thing.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I picture it as a series of action figures, in different scenarios. And I want all of them!

    2. Anonforthis*

      I would buy a t-shirt saying Lone Cranky Feminist on it. Totally. I think this is a real business opportunity!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m there! With accompanyting LEGO building plans….all from basic pieces, none of the pastel ‘Friends’ abomination.

    1. Blue Anne*

      Same here. Definitely dealing with some lone cranky feminist bullshit at work this week, too, but not this egregious.

  2. sarah*

    Regardless of the bananas gender stuff, “Please adhere to the following dress code” sure is a weird way to follow up “thanks for all that you do”

    1. BRR*

      Right? This is so problematic but putting almost all of it aside, how does diving people by gender show appreciation?

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I think it’s an attempt by a closet sexist to move the nursing staff back a few centuries.

    2. KayEss*

      Yes, I’m trying really hard to figure out why that’s supposed to be “fun” and coming up blank. It’s like someone wanted to riff on the idea of wearing school spirit colors, decided that “wear our logo/brand colors” was weird, and somehow settled on gender as the only other color-related identity aspect they could think of.

      1. Yet Another Cranky Feminist*

        Right? My first thought was of certain causes associated with colors — red for heart health, purple for Alzheimers, pink for breast cancer, etc. Unless there’s some kind of “nursing pride/appreciation/etc” color, I don’t see why “everyone wear the color” is a part of this at all.

      2. Charlotte Collins*

        So, the mention of school colors makes me remember my high school, which banned wearing gang colors back in the 80s. Unfortunately, our school colors were on the list. So, we could only wear our school colors on “spirit days,” and they were otherwise banned (athletic uniforms and letter jackets were OK, because jocks are so special).

        So, I vote you have a “gang colors” day.

        FWIW, I never wore the school colors.

    3. Willis*

      No kidding! “In order to show our appreciation, please all wear this color and bake for yourselves.” Uhhhh…thanks?

      1. Roja*

        Right?? The last thing I want to do if someone is celebrating me is spend a bunch of my time baking something to enter a contest.

        1. yet another library anon*

          Seriously tho.

          I love baking, but I haven’t done it in ages because it is a LOT OF WORK.

          Which…I don’t think nurses need MORE of to “celebrate” them.

      1. Airy*

        Some green, some yellow, some brown – and then there are the quirky heirloom bananas in red and purple. Banana dress codes are surprisingly diverse!

    4. One of the Sarahs*

      I loathe the “wear X colour/a Christmas jumper/polka dots” events, because it so often means buying an item of clothing specifically for it – even before we add the gendered BS in.

      (I was once temping in an office that wanted to go big for Xmas Jumper Day and no way was I spending a couple of hours’ wages on a one-off. I got a lot of “Just buy one from a charity shop!” and that’s actually worse, as it would mean spending hours trawling different charity shops on my day off for something appropriate that fitted – ugh)

      1. Airy*

        Not to mention that when it’s a seasonal thing like a Christmas jumper, because charity shops have what people give them rather than what manufacturers prepare in advance of events, it’s way easier to find one after New Year or in spring when people want to get rid of them.
        I’m often a little wistful about not having all the Northern Hemisphere snow-and-robins Christmas stuff here in New Zealand but at least no one tries to make you wear anything woolly for the occasion.

        1. LJay*

          My local thrift stores know that Ugly Sweater parties are a thing, so they make a rack with all of them that they receive in… and jack up the price on them so you’re not saving much money.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh same. My relative wanted to do it for Christmas, and said this exact thing–“Just go to a thrift store!” No, I do not want to spend ANY money on a piece of crap I will never wear again, thanks.

      3. Janie*

        I adore tacky Christmas clothing and own a… slightly frightening amount… and I kept my eye out all of the Christmas season for stuff at my thrift store. There was never a single plus sized ugly sweater, despite them having a decent number of them.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’m pretty sure they don’t even make plus size ones in the UK. We had a little impromptu party at work last year, which was the first time I’d ever had a need for one. Nobody sold anything in my size at all. I ended up pinning some ribbons and bows to a shirt and calling it good.

      4. just a random teacher*

        My union is constantly doing this “everyone wear x color on y day to show solidarity as part of z ongoing thing” business.

        I have a very hard time finding work clothes, and do not happen to own work-appropriate solid-color shirts in the entire rainbow of colors. Even assuming I did, this would require a level of outfit-planning that I’m just not up for until I’ve already had coffee, by which point I’m probably already dressed.

        I also have decided that I just don’t do theme sweaters/outfits. I went to enough theme parties in my 20s that I am just Done With That.

        1. Janie*

          “this would require a level of outfit-planning that I’m just not up for until I’ve already had coffee”

          Most people probably just pick them the night before…

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          Bow ties (or scarves) in a suitable range of colors? That’s how I deal with this. I’m one of those people who have a closet full of the same outfit (currently a gray polo shirt with dark jeans), because I don’t care about fashion and also don’t want to make decisions before 9 am. But for $30 in cheap bow ties, I can be ready for any holiday on the calendar.

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is where I am. I am a “lady”, and I don’t own anything pink because I don’t care for it and it doesn’t suit my coloring at all (most shades make me look ill). I have zero interest in buying an article of clothing that I am unlikely to wear again for a day I’m supposed to be “appreciated”.

        My office had an ugly holiday sweater day last year, but it was truly optional with no pressure to participate.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I look so terrible in pink, my mother didn’t even make me wear it when I was a baby. She always put me in blues or greens. (My sister got red.)

          I was raised Catholic, so light blue was appropriate for girls, since it’s the color of the Virgin Mary.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Also, my mother didn’t care. She tried to raise us as gender-neutral as possible in the 1970s.

    5. AMT*

      I work in healthcare and, yes, this is is the problem with a lot of “staff week” or “X profession week” thank-you events. It’s great if it’s free food or a gift, but I am *so* not feeling appreciated by having to attend mandatory fun events or incurring more obligations than I already have.

    6. cmcinnyc*

      Yes! “Hi, we want to honor you by loading some extraneous domestic work on you–and it’s a CONTEST, not just a good ole potluck–and telling you what to wear!” Nothing says respect like…

    7. Does it matter?*

      I agree that this is one of the weirdest ways to celebrate a group I can imagine.

  3. BRR*

    I’m a man and I would rebel by wearing pink (or maybe both colors? since it’s the trans flag).

    1. Pipe Organ Guy*

      I would definitely wear pink. In fact, that’s what I wore on Easter Sunday, along with an 80s or 90s floral tie. Just a wee bit of flamboyance there at the organ console!

    2. Anonforthis*

      I’m not a nurse, and I actually wear quite a bit of pink, since I like it, but if someone TOLD me I had to wear pink because I’m a “lady” (JFC), I’d stridently show up in something NOT PINK.

  4. B*

    Usually this sort of thing should be celebrated by a free lunch, or gift cards or… something that isn’t any kind of obligation? Not even getting into the weird sexist crap

  5. Oranges*

    I would soooo be tempted to wear something horrible that day. Like a duct-tape scrub. Or a list of why gender is a social construct. But really I’d probably just get “sick” that day.

    1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      I can tell you how my mom would react. She was a nurse for just under 27 years. She’d show up in her normal white nurse’s uniform with a box of blatantly store bought baking.
      She said more than once I went to college to be a nurse – and baking is not and never has been one of my gifts.

  6. Four lights*

    Besides the other problems, the bake off just gives you more work to do–who wants that?

    1. BeautifulVoid*

      In addition to wearing something other than pink, I’d be tempted to get a tray of cupcakes or something from the nearest supermarket and plonk those down on the table as my entry in the baking competition. With the packaging/labels/etc. from the supermarket clearly still attached. Because as you said, who wants more work, especially when everyone is supposed to be honoring one of the fields that is notoriously overworked and underpaid?

      1. valentine*

        And de- and undervalued. Do they miss the days of freaking stockings, skirts (!), and starch, capped off with needless caps?

        Even the Florence Nightingale tale of how she tirelessly and tenderly tended to soldiers is sexist fan fiction.

        1. Zephy*

          I know an old surgeon that has complained about modern nurses wearing “pajamas” to work. He certainly misses the days of the starched dress uniforms with the little hats, but then, he never had to wear one. *eyeroll*

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            At the hospital I used to work at, there was one nurse who wore the dress and her nursing cap until she retired in 2017. Everyone knew her, which was very cool, but I think the so-called pajamas are pretty practical.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            IDK, white uniforms for nurses seems totally logical. I mean, it’s not like they’re dealing with blood and feces and vomit all day, right?

              1. Michaela Westen*

                And the challenge of finding white shoes that are supportive and comfy enough to be on your feet all day.

            1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

              I will say that my mom was proud of her cap – wore it almost every night of her nursing career (and was proud that it was still the same one as when she earned her BSN and passed her Ohio Boards). She also wore the white uniform – but never the dress. She detested the way she looked in a skirt as a child and still does in her 60’s.
              She said she liked the white because she could bleach it whenever she needed to and didn’t have to worry about was it color-safe bleach or not?

            2. yet another library anon*

              I mean, tbf, white means you can just chuck it in with some bleach to clean it.

              but probably not those old fancy ones…

          3. MatKnifeNinja*

            When we switched over from nursing whites to scrubs, ALL the doctors bitched. They really really really hated it. Of course, they didn’t have to try and find uniforms or totally all white $$$$ nursing showers.

            Activated charcoal is not a friend to nursing whites or Gentian Violet. Threw away so many uniforms.

      2. Miss Mouse*

        Damn straight. I was coming here to say I’d do the exact same thing myself *without question* when I saw your comment.

        1. Miss Mouse*

          And this is at the VA? (I recognize the bit of the logo to the left). I’m reaching out to a friend of mine who is a nurse at the VA administration in D.C. to ask about this nonsense.

          1. No Name Yet*

            OMG, I didn’t even notice that. As a VA clinician, that makes this even more infuriating than it already was!

      3. Proofin’ Amy*

        I’d want to push it even more with a sealed package of Pillsbury raw cookie dough.

      4. Ada*

        Lol, I’d be tempted to take it a step further: buy a box of cake mix and drop it off with a sticky note reading “Bake it your own damn self.”

        1. Troutwaxer*

          Another thought. Vote for that one to win the prize! (There will be a prize, right, for the best little filly in the hospital? /snark.)

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Dissenting voice here, but there are some people for whom baking is a form of stress relief and would actually enjoy bringing their goods in to work – this includes men (some of whom can be better bakers than the “ladies” – yeah I got an eye-roll-headache from that usage too).

      So maybe leave the baking thing open *for those that want to participate*. Maybe offer them for sale with the proceeds going to a nominated charity.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I would enjoy that as well, but it would still feel off to me as part of an *appreciation day*.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        People who enjoy baking and bringing the food to work are probably already doing that.

      3. Charlotte Collins*

        I love to bake (which I learned to do from my father, thank you very much). However, I wouldn’t do it in some sort of idea that by taking that time and expense, I’m somehow being extra appreciated. In that case, management can bake something for me. (Or buy it, I don’t care. As long as it’s good-quality, not something picked up at the local gas station.)

        Baking can be a form of stress relief, but not if you’re entering it in a contest!

        1. Vicky Austin*

          Agreed with you about the contest. We often had potlucks at my old job, but it was voluntary and it was never a contest.

  7. Matilda Jefferies*

    That’s it, I’m done. Quitting the planet immediately.

    (Or rather, first I will buy a Lone Cranky Feminist action figure. THEN I’m quitting the planet!)

  8. Teapot Unionist*

    What kind of appreciation week requires the people being appreciated to bake for each other? That’s a real kick in the teeth, gender essentialism aside.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Since criminal defense lawyer appreciation week does not, and will never, exist, I’ll have to do my own baking into eternity.

      1. pro criminal defense lawyers*

        You might not get a week of celebration, but you can always check out whatthepublicdefender at tumblr if you want some commiseration and laughs!

    2. AMT*

      It’s like those Music Man lyrics: “But what the heck, you’re welcome — join us at the picnic! You can have your fill of all the food you bring yourself.”

    3. CatCat*

      Yeah, seriously.

      “We’re excited to celebrate and recognize you. So what will you be bringing to eat?”

      No! That’s not how this works!

      1. Sabina*

        When I was an administrative assistant I more than once was required to plan my own (and others) Administrative Assistant’s Week festivities. I didn’t have to spend personal funds, but I had more work added to my plate for an event I didn’t have time to attend.

    4. ket*

      The DOCTORS should bake for the nurses! Signed, spouse of “doc who puts up real money for a nice buffet for nurses during nurses week and who makes good baked goods while also being male.”

    5. Robm*

      The whole thing reeks, frankly. “We want you to know how much we appreciate you by making you dress how *we* want… oh yes and you better bring cake too.”

      I think I’d feel more appreciation without that nonsense than with, if it was me.

    6. MatKnifeNinja*

      I swear this could be the my old job. Nursing/Respiratory Therapy/Cardiology (people who would do EKGs on the patient floors), had bake offs. All.the.time. Like serious cakes with fondant and all sorts of fancy nibblies.

      My mind boggles at the pink and blue nonsense. Nursing changes at a glacial pace. I remember RNs still wearing caps in the late 1980s early 90s.

      The pink and blue is a WTF moment for me, but I can think of at least 10 coworkers who would be on board.

  9. jiminy_cricket*

    This would infuriate me. I bet you’re not the only one, and I’d encourage you to push back however you’re comfortable!

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Honestly I’ve worked places that come up with nonsense celebrations, and the best way to comply with nonsense is to do the bare minimum with regards to participation and enthusiasm. Sometimes just letting the event fizzle over has a more powerful impact on the event organizer than preemptively objecting, which can make the event organizer dig their heels in unnecessarily.

      Everyone showing up in normal work clothes, with a few people bringing in the cheap store brand sandwich cookies, and the message will be received Loud and Clear.

      1. Office Sweater Lady*

        I agree with you, that girl! Instead of the bare minimum, I’d go a step further and cultivate a sort of selective fogginess. Too often, women are expected to “take on the mantle” of the fight if they want to change this kind of thing. If the OP wants to do that, fine, but for anyone stuck with office policies like this (which honestly usually aren’t mandatory), I’d just be vague and refuse to do it without saying so specifically. “Are you wearing pink next week?” “Oh, I totally forgot about that… not sure.” Then just don’t do it! “What are you going to bake at the baking competition?” “Oh, I don’t really bake.” Then just don’t.
        At my old work, we had a dynamic where the holiday party was self catered by all the women in the office, while the men just brought booze/napkins/easy stuff. There was one woman who was really driving it, so the year she took vacation over the holidays, the other two of us women just, didn’t say anything or plan anything? About a week before we normally had the event, our boss realized nothing had been done and took us all out for a nice dinner instead. Every year after that we went out with work paying for a lunch or dinner. Sometimes you can change the culture through lack of enthusiasm :-)

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        Yeah, if you don’t do the absolutely bare minimum, your transfer off of straight midnight will never ever happen unless you quit. #TeamPetty

  10. Professor Ma'am*


    And I’d bet (hope?) your male colleagues are just as weirded out by this gender color coding plan. No one would want to highlight that they’re the gender minority in their field.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Bet no one will bat one single eyelash at any make who didn’t do the baking though…

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Agreed but the point is that allllll kinds of eyelashes will be batting if the “ladies” fail to do the baking.

    2. Minta*

      Agreed. Why light this match in an occupational field that already wrestles with persistent and painful gender-related issues? I mean, the event announcement might as well started with something like, _Attention: Nurses & Male Nurses!_, because that is basically what it feels like when they’re telling people wear pink or blue like this. All this, and I haven’t even touched on the baking part.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Agree 100%. In a field that struggles so much regarding gender-related issues, why would someone want to reinforce that? Why not just toss in a gendered “Couldn’t get into medical school?” joke at all the men as well, while they’re at it?

  11. hellollo*

    I hate all of this while simultaneously not understanding any of it.

    Isn’t this supposed to be a time to recognize and appreciate nurses for their hard work? How is dressing in color coded clothing signaling your gender (which is a whole other thing, what if there are people who are non-binary, what color should they dress in?) and making them go home and cook baked goods doing any of that?

    1. Thursday Next*

      Your first sentence sums the situation up nicely.

      OP, if you don’t get any traction with management, I recommend wearing whatever you’d usually wear. I’m guessing that a number of your colleagues share your objections; might it be worthwhile to try to get a sense of their feelings?

    2. DaffyDuck*

      It doesn’t celebrate the nurse’s hard work at all. If they wanted to show appreciation they should give all the nurses credit to buy the scrubs or work clothing of their choice and provide them with (at least) a free lunch/dinner. Instead, they are making the nurses do EVEN MORE work (buy scrubs they will probably only wear for this, as many places colour code scrubs by job, and have them bake).

      1. valentine*

        buy scrubs they will probably only wear for this
        I hadn’t thought of this. It gets worse and worse.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This hadn’t even occurred to me, but you’re right. When my grandmother was in the hospital there was a chart posted of what all the scrub colors mean so patients and family members will know who to ask for things.

        If they really wanted to appreciate their staff, they could have a “wear whatever fun novelty scrubs you’ve got at the back of your closet” day, or provide staff with something new to wear that they don’t have to buy on their own. This whole event really does seem like “We appreciate you! Now go spend money you’d rather use for something else and do extra work!”

    3. Liz*

      thank you! i wasn’t understanding it either and thought it was just me. I just don’t see any connection between celebrating Nurses Week, and wearing certain colors and baking.

    4. Janie*

      Shit like this so often boils down to “out yourself at work or have fun misgendering yourself”.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        IMHO it’s a closet sexist trying to take them back to the “good old days”. I doubt if other genders are even on this person’s radar.

    5. Airy*

      It’s Mandatory Fun planned by a committee that thinks the essence of fun is making people do extra stuff all together with no options for preference. I think they just took a list of suggested activities for school spirit week and tried to adapt it to the setting.

    6. LunaLena*

      What do you mean, “*making* them go home and cook baked goods”? Women LOVE baking (because I can just about guarantee you that only the female nurses will be expected to bring in something, and if the male nurses do, it’s because their wives made it for them)! It’s not work if you love doing it, it’s a joyful pleasure! Amirite ladies?

      This moment of sarcasm brought to you by someone whose parents come from a conservative patriarchal culture, and whose father very sincerely told her once that, at family gatherings, “women stay in the kitchen to cook and and clean up at these events because that’s what they ENJOY doing. Women love that kind of stuff! It’s just the way they are!”

  12. LawBee*

    This is like the commenter who didn’t mind being called Mama. It doesn’t bother them so what’s the issue?

    Excuse me while I peel my head off of my desk, and my palm from my face.

  13. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I’m just not really understanding why turning one’s clothes into a gender reveal party celebrates a profession.

    How about next year, the employer spring for a new set of non-gendered scrubs that have a nice emblem that recognizes that nurses are health professionals who deserve to get catered cakes on their special day?

    (Of course, if you happen to work on a team who love to bake and thought up the bake-off themselves because it’s an excuse to pull out some new recipes, then, fine. But yeah, no, I think I’d spill something noxious on my pinks at the start of my shift and oh-well-gotta-change.)

    1. Rob aka Mediancat*

      I strongly suspect anyone who would come up with an idea like this would have the response of, “Non-binary? What’s that mean?”

      1. Flat Penny*

        Or, worse: “that’s not a real thing.”

        Sad, I’ve heard that, and I work in a relatively progressive office.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        Considering my doctor’s office intake form yesterday had only male/female as choices, I’m doubting any other choice isn’t on his radar screen. This guy is in his early 30s, so there shouldn’t be an excuse using a form straight out of the 1970s.

        1. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

          That is because a doctor needs to know your BIOLOGICAL SEX in order to provide medical care. It’s not a right-wing, unwoke conspiracy; it’s science.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There are other ways to ask that question and still get the info a doctor might need, without rendering invisible people who don’t fit neatly into those two boxes. (Plus, by framing it that way, they’re denying themselves other relevant info that would help them give better care.)

          2. D'Arcy*

            It’s “science” circa around 1920. We’ve learned a thing or two about biological sex in the next century since then, and it does not mean what you think it means.



          3. MayLou*

            It reduces the useful information being provided – you can be legally male with male gender markers on all your paperwork and still have a uterus. You can be a cis woman who has had a double mastectomy and hysterectomy. What are intersex people meant to put? If the gender box is intended to provide the doctor with useful information about biology, it is doomed to fail in all kinds of ways.

    2. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I’m non binary and I’m torn between whether I would decide that I get a free day off on pink and blue day or whether I would show up naked.

      1. OP*

        Yeah, I don’t know what non binary people should do and I doubt if this workplace even acknowledges non binary, despite their promises to be more open to all groups.

        1. Not Me*

          Depending on what state you’re located in they may legally have to recognize non-binary people.

          Legality aside, it’s just the decent human being thing to do.

        2. AMT*

          I’ve worked in a lot of places like this. Rainbow flags everywhere, but what on earth is this ridiculous “training and hiring for LGBTQ competency” thing I’ve been hearing about?

          1. Not Me*

            It’s not so ridiculous when you realize there are people like the OPs employer out there.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          OP how about “oh was that *today*? I forgot. Whelp too late to bake anything and I’m already dressed in my Hot Topic branded scrubs, so….¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ?”

      2. Media Circus*

        I’m agender, and I would DEFINITELY interpret it as “no gender, no clothes!” that day. Which would be one way to get this changed.

        1. L.S. Cooper*

          I’m genderfluid, so I think I’d need to be running around and changing constantly…

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Rainbows, or any color they want.

      But seriously, reading this I thought, “But what about the non-binary/gender nonconforming people” and then faceplanted on the desk.

    4. Corrvin*

      The flag for gender variant folks has a green stripe for non-binary so I think green would be pretty appropriate.

      But I also own a ton of green anyway. So that’s what I’d wear.

    5. Midge*

      Or the people who are questioning, or who aren’t cis but not ready to come out?

      This is so many levels of f-ed up.

      I hope that, if this does continue, all the cis people make known that they are wearing any color but pink or blue that day so anyone who is not cis and not out can feel more comfortable also wearing whatever color they want that day.

  14. LizB*

    I’m just straight up confused by the idea that being told to wear a particular color would be a form of employee appreciation. Has everyone in your workplace just been clamoring to wear pink and/or blue forever so this is a special treat? Are your normal uniforms a terrible puke green and wearing any other color will be a relief? This just makes zero sense even before you get to the sexism.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m scratching my head about literally all of this before I even get to the really problematic stuff.

    2. OP*

      There has been no interest at all in wearing pink and blue to work. Some units wear scrubs and wear a certain color (like navy blue or khaki) based on their job or department. Other units wear business casual (or less formal depending on responsibilities) so most people can wear anything they like on most days.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I work for a healthcare system and some of the hospitals color code employees by classification – like CNAs wear one color and RNs wear one color etc. I think that makes sense because then you know who to ask about what.

  15. TiffIf*

    While the gendered dress code colors are inappropriate, I would actually not interpret the baking contest in the same way. It is of course possible that this activity was planned out of gendered thinking. However, many men like to bake as well. I feel like the recent popularity of shows like the Great British Bake-Off and the numerous other baking and cooking competitions available now has inspired people of all genders to explore baking.

    My company and the industry we are in (technology) skews heavily male but last month on pi day our company had a pie competition–there were plenty of entries by both men and women and the winner was a man.

    My own department which skews even heavier to male than my company in general has a number of men who enjoy baking and will bring things to share.

    I feel baking is moving into popular acceptance as something any gender can enjoy and less seen as a female thing.

    1. Murphy*

      For me the baking is more of a problem because it’s like “We’re celebrating you…now go make us something!”

      1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        Exactly. Short of someone enthusiastically volunteering to do it because they love baking, appreciation days like these don’t generally involve putting work on the people being appreciated.

        1. valentine*

          And men get loads of praise for doing anything except kicking puppies, so, it’s nowhere near the same for them. In fact, they probably get extra points for deigning to bake and it’s seen as worth paying for.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            This. Any guy who doesn’t bake will get a pass. Any guy who does will get an award for doing the minimum.

            A woman not baking…”WTF is *her* problem?” If she does, well “ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of course she did, yanno she’s female after all.”

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Not to mention the money spent on buying cake making stuff.

          Even if it’s $2 for a box mix and a can of frosting, they shouldn’t have to spend that money.

          People coming up with these “great ideas” should really learn to read the room before mandating this crap.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Though in some parts of the world, that’s exactly what you do (the birthday person brings the cake for the group)

          1. Airy*

            I was baffled and dismayed to read in an American etiquette column that it was tacky to host your own birthday party. Someone else had to decide to hold one for you, but you weren’t allowed to ask anyone to do it. It was a sort of test of whether you were a good enough person. I concluded that if I had grown up in the columnist’s social circles I wouldn’t have had a birthday party after the age of about ten at all.

            1. Midlife Tattoos*

              It’s also the same for baby or wedding showers.

              -says someone who didn’t get a baby shower

              1. Airy*

                I’m so glad that in New Zealand we just hold parties for our own life events and it’s understood as hospitality.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              My friends host their own birthday parties. I was born in America and have lived here all my life, and I never heard of this before.

      2. OhGee*

        Imagine if the doctors were required to bake instead! I can hear my nurse mother laughing and laughing just thinking of this.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Hi, lady doctor here who enjoys baking! But would be peeved about being TOLD to bake for Doctors’ Day.

      3. Win*

        Would you see a Pot Luck the same way? Very common for holidays and celebrations… the benefit being everyone makes something (not enough for the whole hospital) and everyone has multiple things to try.

        Doesnt seem so bad to me. Dont bake if you dont bake, doubt anyone is getting singled out for it.

        1. Elspeth*

          It’s an employee appreciation week – how does asking employees to bake for themselves show appreciation? Giving people more work to do isn’t a good way to thank them.

    2. OP*

      OP Here!!! Celebrating “Pi Day” with pies sounds appropriate and fun. I would definitely participate.
      I love baking…but I really don’t want to have to do something else to be appreciated.

      1. Mimi Me*

        Yeah, I get that! I don’t like celebrating the holidays at my office because they make this big deal about how it’s the way the company celebrates but then it’s a frickin’ potluck. Happy Holidays now bring something in that you’ve cooked! It feels kind of yuck to me.

        If you’re going to show someone that you appreciate them, then show them – don’t ask them to bake for their peers.

        1. Pipe Organ Guy*

          I remember once a staff post-Christmas luncheon here at church that was a potluck. Now that’s a great way to help staff who have gone through Advent and Christmas and all the associated ramped-up activity feel appreciated!

    3. CmdrShepard4ever*

      If the baking contest was brought up individually I would not take it as a gendered thing, I agree both men and women like to bake. But being mentioned as part of the same event(s) as the gendered event men wear blue women wear pink, I can’t help but see it a gendered thing. Women like to bake–> most nurses are women–>thus our nurses would like to bake for everyone.

      Even if the baking wasn’t gendered it seems wrong to ask nurses to put work in as part their appreciation week. It would be like asking admins to plan, buy, and set up things for admin professionals day. An appropriate appreciation event would be to have the doctors bring baked goods bought or homemade and have the nurses taste and choose the winner.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “Women like to bake–> most nurses are women–>thus our nurses would like to bake for everyone.”


  16. Delta Delta*

    How is any of this logically related? I could see if different departments coordinated – cardiac wears purple, maternity wears green, etc. That might be kind of fun. But I’m not sure how dividing by gender has anything to do with the job (it doesn’t) or is meant to pep people up (it wouldn’t).

    It feels like an idea to try to have something akin to spirit week or homecoming week in high school, but it wasn’t thought through very well.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I’m gonna add to this. WHO is supposed to be appreciative of the nurses? Other staff? Management? Patients? If it’s other colleagues, it seems some sort of internal thing ought to be done. If it’s patients (who are likely always appreciative), they may not know it’s a special week. It seems like a pin or special scrub top for the week signifying it’s a special week would be more in order.

      1. OP*

        The email did not specify, but I guess that all the nurses are supposed to wear pink and blue?? Most of my colleagues are not going to participate because they think it is ridiculous. I would be agreeable to wearing the school colors of your nursing school, or even wearing your nursing school pin BUT not pink and blue. UGH!

        1. Mimi Me*

          I have a friend who’s a nurse and she said that they aren’t allowed to wear whatever scrubs they want. This bummed me out because I love the fun prints. It would be nice if your workplace did something like that – wear fun scrubs to kick things off!

        2. NW Mossy*

          This is a totally reasonable approach, and if enough of you just check out entirely, this will land in reality exactly as it should have in the meeting where it was first suggested – with all the energy of a deflating balloon.

    2. Funbud*

      I think perhaps they were thinking of the maternity ward, with the male babies in blue blankets, females in pink.

      Do hospitals even still do this?

      BTW, before the 1930s, pink was not frimly established as a “girl” color.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        My kiddo is pretty old, but her blanket after delivery was white with pink and blue stripes.

        1. valentine*

          her blanket after delivery was white with pink and blue stripes
          I wish I had stock in that company. They make the precious little hats, too, and they’re everywhere.

          1. Mimi Me*

            I had two of those blankets after the birth of my daughter. I loved them. So much so that when I delivered my son a while later I managed to liberate 5 more (in addition to the 2 they gave me with his birth). The ones they came home in are safely tucked away but the others have had a wonderful life as dishtowels, rags, washcloths, etc. Right now there’s one (or half of one) in my car that I use to wipe the inside of my windshield in the winter. :)

            1. iglwif*

              I think the blankets they used in the hospital where I delivered were just white, but I’d have to dig up the 2002 photo album because I didn’t liberate any ;) My kiddo came home in aggressively gender-neutral baby blankets with rainbow stripes and barnyard animals on them, because I am helplessly attracted to bright colours at Babys R Us XD

      2. curly sue*

        This. For ages pink was considered a masculine colour because it was pale red, and red was strong! and mighty! war and blood! while blue was (seen as) soft, subdued, the colour of the Virgin Mary — far more appropriate for girls.

        (Salmon pink was one of Henry VIII’s favourite colours. Or at least one that appeared frequently in his wardrobe inventories.)

      3. Working Mom Having It All*

        When my 18 month old was born, our hats and blankets were an orange pattern, because the hospital logo was orange and it was a major component of the decor. The little newborn sized shirts were white with an orange pattern to match the blankets.

        As the mom to a young child, I don’t think I’ve seen recent-ish photos of newborns in the hospital in gendered clothes or blankets.

        Additionally, there was no sex listed on the bassinets in the nursery and no “It’s a Boy!”/”It’s a Girl!” stuff passed out by the hospital. I don’t think the maternity ward or nursery were decorated in pink and blue, either, to be honest.

  17. Lay Dee Marmot Loud*

    “Thanks for all you do!” Then divvying workers up be gender conformities and pitting them against one another to accomplish…what, exactly?
    I would bust out either all black scrubs, or, animal prints and very openly Buy.A.Cake!
    **I would also buy those action figures!!!

  18. Roscoe*

    Skipping over the pink and blue, I guess I don’t see the problem with the bake off. I’m a guy and worked in a predominantly female environment (an elementary school). One of the things we did around the holidays was a cookie exchange where everyone was encouraged to make and bring in their favorite cookie recipe. I didn’t necessarily see this as a sexist thing. I’m pretty sure it was spearheaded by a woman, but all the guys participated as well. I’m guessing its not a required thing. What is the problem with people who want to participate and like baking doing so?

    1. ket*

      “Here, we’re appreciating you at this party! Make sure to bring food you like to your party, ’cause we aren’t providing anything!”

    2. Elsajeni*

      In terms of seeing it as sexist, I think it’s really just that it’s being presented along with the goofy gendered scrubs day — basically, if you prime the pump by calling a bunch of attention to GENDER and GENDER IMBALANCE and EVERYONE THINK ABOUT GENDER A LOT, then do something else that’s even vaguely gendered, the gendered aspects of the second thing are going to really stand out to people. I don’t think the baking contest would register as sexist at all if it hadn’t been coupled with “hey, let’s all spend a day really noticing how most of our nursing staff are women.”

  19. Funbud*

    The pink and blue thing is regrettable. Unless they’s said “Everyone wear pink or blue” with no gender specified.

    But the bake-off sounds fun. My company has an annual “summer games” in August. It now consists of a talent show and various athletic competitions aimed at varying levels of ability, but in the first few years they held it, events were were more varied and included a bake-off, entered equally (as I remember) by men and women. Lots of fun and I didn’t sense anything patriarchal about it.

    1. WellRed*

      But does performing the labor and incurring the expense of baking make you feel appreciated?

        1. WellRed*

          It’s OK to enjoy a baking contest and I might even participate. I simply think that if you want to show appreciation for hard work as a nurse, you could still give them prizes and compliments for the actual nursing work.

    2. The Bimmer Guy*

      I agree with you. A bake-off can be fun–if you don’t make it weird.

      Even if you had the best of intentions, if you ask all of the nurses to do the baking and most of them happen to be female, that’s not going to go well, and you’re going to reinforce dangerous gender stereotypes.

      Also, celebrating the nurses by asking them to cook for everyone is a weird way to celebrate Nurse Week in the first place, even without the gender stereotypes.

      1. CMart*

        Yes, potluck style or food competition things can be a lot of fun if you don’t make it weird.

        A fully inclusive, optional -off has been fantastic in my office. The entire finance department, from AP clerk to CFO, get invited to sign up for chili cook offs, cookie contests, and once a salsa and guacamole competition about twice a year and it’s a blast. The people who love to cook/bake and show off do so, the rest of us love to eat, we get an excuse to take an extended lunch and stretch our legs.

        But “predominantly female staff encouraged/expected to spend their own $ on a stereotypically gendered and devalued activity” is making it weird.

        1. an anon*

          “if you don’t make it weird” — like a former office of mine, where for the holiday party women have to sign up to bring potluck dishes but men all chip in a set cash price to get the meat catered. I don’t even eat meat and I wanted to do that just to make a point…

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            Just gasped out loud. This cannot be true. Tell me this is not a real thing that happened among grownups in a modern workplace.

          2. Ev*

            Not work, but a similar situation: the community choir I sing with used to provide refreshments for our concerts. Each of the women were required to bring at least 2 dozen cookies – and it was firmly implied that we were to bring homemade baked goods. Each of the men…had to bring a bottle of juice.

            (The venue we perform at got new carpet installed a couple years ago and we are no longer allowed to have food there. None of the women miss it.)

          3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            I don’t do potluck because I don’t cook, and I don’t usually have the money to buy something decent in appropriate quantities, either.

            They could take my cash contribution to the catered dish, or they can accept that I’m going to bring a few bags of chips, because those are the ONLY options I’d be giving them.

            1. an anon (again)*

              I had only been there for about a month by that point so I went with it but also made it a personal challenge to get as close to six dollars (the catering contribution) as I could. I still couldn’t manage, brought pasta salad for total of like 7 bucks and change (plus, you know, effort) but I’ll always have this in my back pocket as a “wow, really?” work moment (from 2017, for the record, TB&B, so definitely modern work moment to boot)

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      Not everyone bakes, even people who identify as female. Moreover how annoying to be mandated to do it instead of opting in.

    4. RUKiddingMe*

      “Entered equally” at your office. Nurses are predominately women. It’s super unlikely that even with 100% participation this would come anywhere near equal.

  20. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP, do you work in Washington State by any chance? You and your coworkers could take in decks of playing cards in pink and blue.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        A+ suggestion.

        I have a lot of nurse friends. My FB food has been full of hilarious memes lately.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I have a FB friend that is a nurse and is requesting playing cards. She works (or worked) in a psych ward for kids, and they use cards with the kids for a lot of reasons. I need to let our representative know that she can send those 17k+ decks she’s received to my friend!

  21. Llellayena*

    Yeah, if it were me, I’d probably show up wearing blue. But that would be half “oops, I forgot this was the day” and half “I don’t own pink, all my stuff is blue.” We tried to do ladies coordinated dress one day a week for a couple of summers (all optional, unofficial team building). It died out in part because more than half of us kept forgetting which day was what. Also, since some of the options were “wear a colorful scarf!” “wear large earrings!” “wear a sundress!” (in addition to the more normal “wear green” “wear red” and “wear mismatched patterns”) it kind of left out some of us (me) that didn’t have the requested items.
    I like the bake-off, though I agree that on top of the gendered outfit colors it pushes into sexism. On its own though, I think the bake-off isn’t bad, as long as not everyone is required to participate. People who like to bake (male or female) will bring in tasty treats for everyone and you get a nice party out of it.

    If you do find someone to complain to about the gendered clothing, can you offer an alternate? I just thought of one where there’s a large white board or a poster and all the nurses are asked to write what their best nursing experience is, or maybe best compliment?

  22. The Bimmer Guy*

    How weird, misogynistic, and out-of-touch. Yeah, push back on this one.

    Also, did you know that at one point, pink was for boys and blue was for girls? This rule lasted from the mid-19th century to about the 1940s. The idea was that pink was a stronger, more-fleshy color meant for boys, while blue was more delicate and meant for girls. So, it’s all arbitrary to begin with, since the colors flip-flopped.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        As a toddler in the early 70s, I used to go on FURIOUS rants over pink being the ‘girl color’ and blue being the ‘boy color’, because I HATED pink (I still don’t care for it) and was tired of seeing ‘girl stuff’ represented by it. I wanted all the ‘girl stuff’ to be BLUE, dammit!
        It made me even angrier when I learned (still pretty young) just how arbitrary it all was, to have people insisting on “girls = pink/boys = blue” like it actually MEANT something.

  23. Justin*

    Clearly you should wear blue (or whatever).

    But yes, gather like Voltron and take this down.

  24. nuqotw*

    I encourage you to enter the baking contest with a burnt baked object with frosting writing that says “I’m a nurse, not a baker.”

        1. Midlife Tattoos*

          This is the one and only reason I miss my ex-husband; that phrase cracked me up every time.

  25. WellRed*

    Because nothing says we appreciate you like, “Thank you nurses, for all you do, now go bake a cake.”

    I don’t even understand why they want to do the color thing. What is that even about?( gender issues, aside).

  26. Drago Cucina*

    The best way to say “Thank you for your hard work” is requiring nurses to buy new scrubs and bake. (Insert sarcasm font here.)

    1. MommyMD*

      Exactly. What they should do is have a nice catered lunch with dessert set up, give them time to eat it, and call it a day. Pink and blue? Rolleyes.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This. How can TPTB not see this as a slap in the face. I don’t get it.

      OP, I think now is a good time for everyone to mention how they don’t bake anymore. Even if they do bake, they could just say they have stopped baking and it would be true as they could stop baking for the moment.

      While relatively minor the thing that cracks me up here is a bunch of people in health care almost bucket brigading junk food into the workplace. While you on the chant of inclusiveness they should also remember people who do not eat dairy, nuts, sugar, eggs, gluten, salt, carbs, meats, related meat products and on and on. I mean after all they should be walking the walk, not just talking it.

      But more seriously, I think I would look the boss in the eye and say, “I told myself I do a good job. I don’t feel the need to bake myself a cake also. I am good here, thanks.”
      “Boss, I am going to go buy new scrubs and baking supplies. Will you sign the receipts for the IRS saying it was mandatory for my job, so I can take it as a tax deduction.”

  27. Ms. Guacamole*

    I have a reputation for vocally pushing back on things I don’t agree with at work, so I think I would absolutely show up in all black and bring a platter of tacos instead of baking something, if my attempts to get this stopped through legitimate avenues were ignored. Sure, I might annoy my bosses but they wouldn’t be surprised and my coworkers would get to eat tacos.

    1. WellRed*

      I would so prefer tacos! I’d prefer them even more if you did’t have to bring them to appreciate yourself and the company popped for them instead ; )

      1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        I’m with you! I LOVE tacos and I have way too much sugar anyway. And agreed, it’d be hard to feel “appreciated” while simultaneously feeling that burning hole in your pocket.

  28. fposte*

    It’s icing on the mandatory cake that it’s not “Men and Women” but “Men and Ladies.” Oof.

    1. StuckInRetailHell*

      Yeah, I really hate this. It’s either “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Women and Men”, or even “Ladies and Lords” if you are at a Medieval themed restaurant or something lol.

      1. Lepidoptera*

        This employer would expect everyone to bring pink or blue lances, and bake their own trenchers.

        1. Pebbles*

          Yes, my mother tried this with me.
          Mom: “I raised you to be a lady.”
          Me: “I never said I wanted to be one.”

          Folks, let me tell you a few examples of what’s on the list of being NOT lady-like: learning to play a saxophone (flute, clarinet, piano, viola, and violin are the acceptable instruments), wanting a college degree in computer science, solo traveling, and riding a motorcycle (my dad had one).

          I did not turn out the way my mom wanted.

          1. Scrooge McDunk*

            My high school gym teacher tried to get me to quit the rugby team by telling me that rugby “was not very lady-like.” Uh, why else did you think I joined the team?

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            My poor mom never knew what to do with me. Technically my step mom, but she came into my life prior to kindergarten, so she’s just Mom.

            But coming from a very proper, “ladies must be ladies” family and then having to very quickly learn how to raise a kid plus that girl kid is often covered in mud with frogs and grasshoppers in their pockets…I gave her many a heart attack doing the laundry. We laugh about it now, but I’m sure I drove her nuts when young. I remember a conversation where she exasperatedly asked me to sit like a lady and I told her I never wanted to be a lady, it sounds like the most boring thing in the world. After that it was sit appropriately or politely, followed by a “Do you think Steve [Irwin] sits in chairs like that??!” or “if there was a (insert favorite animal of the day) here, don’t you think you might be scaring them by (jumping on chair, climbing on back of sofa, etc)?”

            I’m still a bit sad that my childhood dream of being a shark trainer never came to be.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              It sounds like she eventually adapted awesomely!! I’m dying at “Do you think Steve Irwin sits in chairs like that?” :D

              Now I’m dying to know– what did you want to train the sharks to do??

          3. Purple Jello*

            I’ve decided that the definition of a lady is a woman who is gracious to others. You can do that playing the saxophone, with a computer science degree or riding a motorcycle. Or playing rugby.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I usually just snarl “I ain’t no lady!” at them.

    2. OP*

      Thank you for pointing this out, fposte, you always have keen insights!!!! I could go for “Lords and Ladies” lol but seriously “Ladies” and “Men” makes me want to hurl.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          White gloves. OP needs with gloves to go with that. I think they can be wrist high since it’s a day time event, right? The longer gloves were for evening/night I believe…..

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I personally just viscerally hate “ladies” in general, but maybe that’s me? We get emails now and then from the ED of an orchestra I play with (“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Orchestra”) and I *HATE* it. (Even though he does at least match the “ladies” with “gentlemen,” I still *HATE* it.)

        And I don’t know why. Closest reason I can figure is that I despise the fact that he feels the need to separate us by gender at all. Never mind leaving out the non-binary folks, if there are any. Which I guess is similar to your issue here too. At least our dress code, which is distinguished by gender, is pretty much the same color (black for “ladies” and black tuxes for “gentlemen”).

        1. Midlife Tattoos*

          “Closest reason I can figure is that I despise the fact that he feels the need to separate us by gender at all.”

          Despite being a feminist, I have never really thought of it this way. Important lesson, thank you.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Oh, good, thank you. I was a little worried it was one of those “bitch eating crackers” situations b/c there are a lot of other bad things about this guy, so this at least is reassuring, RUKM.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Lots and lots if us don’t like it. If you have time google why “lady/ladies” is problematic and feeds gender norm behavior expectations. Sorry I dont have any links handy but Everyday Feminism might be a starting point.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  You’re welcome.

                  Trust your gut. If it seems like sexism it usually is…even if it’s subconscious just because we are all socialized in a patriarchal society.

                  LOVE your user name by the way!

        2. Cloudy with sunny breaks*

          I understand your loathing of the term ladies and would never address a group of women as such, but I often address a group of males as ‘gentlemen’. Saying ‘Men’ sounds like the military and sometimes guys is a little too informal when I want to call people to attention. Although for a mix of genders I will say guys or People.

          I’ve failed to take into account that my language is excluding those who don’t identify as either male or female and really there is no reason why I can’t just say Everybody. Maybe my default should be ‘children if all ages?’

        3. I Hate "Ladies" Too*

          I agree completely. Plus there really are so many completely gender neutral and collective ways to start an email that you know will include everyone. You could say “Hello Everyone”, or go with Friends, Folks, Colleagues, Students, Musicians, Collaborators, Team, Y’all, Associates, Volunteers, the mascot name if it’s a team/school with a mascot (e.g. “Dear Panthers”), etc. Plus if the culture allows you can have a bit of fun with it and come up with different terms to fit the occasion. My workplace is great for this, I get emails all the time with greetings like “Dear Ice Cream Lovers” if it’s information about the company ice cream social, for instance.

        4. Janie*

          Nope, I hate it too.

          I actually ran a poll and 80% of people who answered also disliked being referred to in a group as such. Several for misgendering reasons. And a couple people voted they liked it for trolling, basically (they admitted).

        5. Ilex*

          I dislike “ladies” in any context, so yeah, you’re hardly alone. Why not just “folks” or “people” or anything else not segregating people by sex?

    3. Lucy*

      Such a bugbear of mine! I’m currently resisting a snippy email to the local sports team who are starting a women’s team whom they refer to interchangeably as “women” and “girls”. I don’t think I have enough curse words to express my annoyance.

      However, an anecdote, possibly apocryphal, from 20 years ago. Big formal sports dinner. Guest speaker is a respected Olympian. She arrives at her place to see that her place card reads “Jane Smith, National Ladies Captain”. She refused to take her seat until it had been changed to “Women’s Captain”.

      1. silverpie*

        Two places in sports that I know of still use the term “ladies.” One is skating (I knew it was used in figure, but just discovered it’s officially used for speed as well). The other is at Wimbledon, but there they do use the term “gentlemen” also.

        As far as age titles, usually high school events and below are boys/girls, college and up are men/women. Makes sense to me.

        1. Lucy*

          Yes, it’s about equivalence, isn’t it. Men’s team, women’s team. Gentlemen’s competition, ladies’ competition. Boys’ softball, girls’ softball.

          If you don’t already follow Man Who Has It All on FB or Twitter I would highly recommend seeking out the account(s). By flipping the gender of everyday sexism it neatly identifies it.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Please correct the “women/girls” people! They need someone to give them a clue.

  29. StuckInRetailHell*

    Granted, I don’t work in the medical field, but my daughter does. At both the hospitals she’s worked at, there is a strict color coding system for scrubs, depending on your position, even what floor you work on. As a nurse tech she is required to wear a particular shade of navy blue. The nurses wear a different color, etc. So are they supposed to purchase a pink or blue set of scrubs (not cheap) just to wear for one day?

    1. iglwif*

      I was wondering that too–in every hospital I’ve ever been in, as an inpatient, outpatient, or visitor, it’s been pretty clear that scrubs are strictly colour-coded by unit and job function.

      Which would mean that a requirement to dress “by gender” would mean some non-trivial proportion of the nursing staff having to buy new scrubs just for this occasion. I know nursing is a reasonably well-paid job, but miss me with that BS.

  30. nêhiyaw ayahkwêw*

    Omg nooooo

    Speaking from experience, this would likely make any trans people in the workplace very uncomfortable. Anyone who isn’t a man or woman is bound to be left out, and closeted trans people are suddenly stuck deciding if they should misgender or out themselves.

    I also believe this could make the patients they are caring for uncomfortable, which could be a good way to explain this to upper management, not just that you are uncomfortable, but that it could alienate trans (and honestly any reasonable) patients.

    1. Someone Else*

      Yeah, I believe the appropriate response to this request is either:
      AW HELL NO
      Or show up wearing all black and when asked say “Oh I prefer not to color-code myself, thanks” and then walk away.

  31. Emily S.*

    Good grief, OP. That is complete baloney.

    I think I want to buy a Lone Cranky Feminist action figure. Or perhaps a t-shirt, similar to one of those ones that say “Such a *nasty* woman.” ;-)

      1. Samwise*

        I googled “Lone Cranky Feminist action figure” — top hits were RBG and Last Jedi Resistance Tech Rose.

  32. BadWolf*

    Seems like a good time to wear rainbow?

    And I feel like it would be more useful for nurses to not match against gender lines. Lots of pink, not as much blue? Why not be more inclusive of men in nursing?

  33. Anonya*

    What the actual F? This doesn’t make any sense at all!

    I don’t like to make a fuss, but I’d probably die on this stupid hill just because it’s all absurd.

    1. Anonybus*

      Seconded. I hate gender essentialism with an intensity that astonishes me sometimes. It would be my pleasure to die on this particular hill.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        I personally hate gender essentialism with a fiery passion because even as a little girl I was highly non-gender conforming by nature, and I got REALLY annoyed by people who kept insisting I was being female “wrong” (or, even stupider, I was was simply “not female” in some way.) Even at a very young, tender age, it was clear to me that if I did not fit the definition of what our culture/society had decided meant “girl/woman/female”, it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with ME, it was because there was something wrong with our society’s definition of “girl/woman/female”, a definition that was both false and arbitrary. I have been giving the mental middle finger to that definition ever since.

  34. nnn*

    The dressing in colour by gender is so particularly weird, because the majority of the time you can tell someone’s gender by looking at them anyway, so visible gender markers are already available.

    And the cases where gender is not readily discernible at a glance intersect greatly with cases where insisting upon a visible, binary identification of gender is a problematic imposition.

    So basically it adds no benefits (whatever benefits they may have had in mind) while magnifying problems and creating stress for the most marginalized in the population.

    And, on a personal level, I’m a woman and I don’t own any pink because it’s just not flattering on me. Making me shop for clothes and spend money on unflattering clothes is not a way to show appreciation!

      1. Jadelyn*

        Thank you. Not all nonbinary folks present androgynously (some by preference, some because we literally can’t pass as anything but our AGAB, hat tip to my 38K boobs for that), there are binary-gender folks who are gender non-conforming.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I’m a woman who owns no pink because I don’t like it. Not because it’s imposed on us as a “girl color,” though that flat pisses me off, just I font like pink so I don’t spend my money on it. This is a hill I would die on for oh so many reasons.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        As a child I hated pink being imposed on me as the “girl color” (though thankfully, not by my parents!) because I *hated pink*…and loved BLUE so much that I was/am practically obsessed with it (I have blue hair, live in a blue house, full of blue stuff.) I really had a HOW DARE THEY attitude about it too, like “they” gave boys “my” color & gave girls a color I despised on purpose just to fuck with me. I especially hated when someone assumed they could get me something pink and I would obviously like it, because “girl”.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I’m like that with red…the best color. I have to make myself buy not red stuff sometimes or else everything would blend and I wouldn’t be able to tell a stapler from a comb…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      I’m a cisgendered female who is very tall, but in all ways LOOKS like a cisgender female (face, hands, body type) and, while far from traditionally feminine, still present in a way that is obviously feminine (rather than androgynous or masculine.) My gender SHOULD be “readily discernible at first glance”, and I have *still* been misgendered so many times it is ridiculous.

      Not to mention the MANY cisgender, non-androgynous men I’ve known in the underground music scene who have been misgendered (usually by straight men trying to hit on them) simply because they wore long hair, makeup, or clothing usually considered feminine. Or the petite, white female friend who was thought to be a “little Asian boy” by a customer where she worked, because she had short black hair.

      So, imma definitely push back on the notion that “you can tell someone’s gender by looking at them”, even when “visible gender markers are already available”- I’ve had decades of experience that this is decidedly NOT true, even for cisgender people whose genders seem like they should be screamingly obvious to observers. (Sometimes I really wonder how any of the misgenderers ever manage to pair up with their preferred sexual partners at all, when they seem to lack all ability to even BEGIN to discern correct sexes/genders.)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m a rather short yet very curvy woman with short hair. The number of times someone has mistaken me for a (much younger) man is very oddly high. I’m an E cup, not that I wear revealing clothing, but I do wear fitted things rather than super blousy tops…. *confused shrug*

        You can make *assumptions* based on how you perceive someone to present themselves, you don’t *know* what gender they are. The important part – your assumptions are based on your perceptions, which is a fascinating social behavioral topic alone, especially since it doesn’t always match what is reality nor other peoples’ perceptions.

        (“your” and “you” here being used as a generic, not pointed at anyone in particular)

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I got called a man once when I was wearing a lace bra 100% visible under a crochet fishnet sweater (aka YOU COULD SEE MY BOOBS) with a super tight bondage skirt that showed my big booty to its full advantage, knee high stiletto heel boots, long hair, a full face of makeup, plus jewelry, nail polish etc- and at that age I was slim and model beautiful (though VERY unconventional looking), so it was (and still is) EXTREMELY puzzling to me.

          What you are saying about perceptions & assumptions- it seems like there are a GREAT many people who only perceive one or two characteristics of a person (like TALL or SHORT HAIR or IN A SKIRT) and THAT IS IT before they make those assumptions. Because I don’t know how someone could look at the whole person (or at least, a number of characteristics or signifiers) and still come to the erroneous conclusion.

          Maybe that’s why some people are so upset by people who do not fit in rigidly defined gender roles? They are so used to only recognizing stereotypes that they don’t know how to recognize PEOPLE, and it panics them?

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I think this says more about them then it does you or the way you look. These people who think you’re male and your friend is a little boy, are so oblivious and distracted they are not seeing what’s in front of them. It’s their failure to focus and observe, not you or your friends.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          Yeah, that was kinda my point- that people are dumb sometimes. LOL.
          Really it’s just that I’m disagreeing with the person who said that you can tell gender by looking by using examples of cis people who look cis and present as cis being completely misgendered (and often!) because they have just one or two characteristics that are regarded by gender essentialists as belonging to the “opposite gender”- such as an unusually tall woman or one with very short hair, or a man with long hair, or wearing eyeliner or a female coded clothing item (like a skirt.)
          If people can be so easily mistaken about the genders of cis people with obvious gender markers, then they are MUCH more likely to get it wrong with people who are trans*, bi- or agender, genderqueer etc etc etc

  35. hellollo*

    This reminds me of the time an old workplace that had frozen raises indefinitely (and at this point it had been at least 2 years) and morale was very very low so they decided to show appreciation by providing pizza for lunch!

    Only for the day to come and realize that what they really meant was they would be providing ONE single pizza and it was a take and bake at home Costco pizza. Like they couldn’t even get a fresh pizza from the Costco food court. It was BEYOND insulting to me for reasons that I cannot explain.

    1. Adelyade83*

      One pizza for the whole department or each worker got a free pizza? Either way that’s bizzare!

      1. hellollo*

        I worked at a spa so it was one pizza for the entire store, so about 25 – 30 people.

        It just completely blew my mind. It was much more effort to go to Costco, bring home a pizza, heat it up and take it to work than it would have been to just buy a few pizzas at the food court and pick them up. To me, it just showed how little they appreciated or care to show how they appreciated us!

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          And even stupider because the take & bake pizzas are SMALLER than the food court ones.

          And seriously, who in their right mind thinks that a single pizza of ANY (normal, non custom made) size is going to feed 25-30 people? Even a Costco food court pizza is only like 10 slices- were people supposed to share, or fight over who gets one? (And who only eats ONE slice of pizza anyway? I am a SERIOUSLY light eater, and I always eat at least two!)

          And not only would it have been easier to get fresh pizza hot from the food court, they could even have called it in in advance and had the order all ready when they came by to pick it up!

          And it IS insulting. It’s one of those times when someone what someone does for you is so small & pointless, that it would have been better if they did nothing at all.

          Sounds like they were cheap, petty, and stupid to boot. Good riddance to that place!

      1. hellollo*

        LOL I’M DYING, I’ve never seen that before! and barely event a pizza party, it should be a weak high five

    2. londonedit*

      Oh, this reminds me of a ridiculous boss I worked for a while back. She would have occasional fits of attempting to be a decent person in between all of her insane micromanaging, and one particular time she decided she was going to order in pizza for everyone. Except then she realised that we had a temp designer in the office, and someone else doing work experience, and she didn’t want to include them in the pizza offer. So she told the rest of us that we could go to the local pizza restaurant, and she’d give us £10 each towards our lunch. Except then she realised that she didn’t want us all to be out of the office having lunch at the same time, so she told us to go in two shifts. So the ‘Hey! Everyone gets pizza!’ turned into ‘Some of you can have pizza; don’t tell the temp and the work experience girl; and you can only have pizza when I tell you; three of you can have pizza between 1pm and 1:30 and then three of you can have pizza between 1:30 and 2pm; please make sure you’re back in the office promptly’.

  36. Lady Phoenix*

    Take the goth option. Wear black.

    Actually, no, black and white are dreary colors that symbolize death.

    Wear grey, or periwinkle, or green.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I think you mean black and white are lovely colors that, as a bonus, symbolize death. :)

  37. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I have nothing to add on the sexism nonsense, but I’d love AAM to run a separate thread about employee appreciation efforts that neither come from management or are actually appreciation.

    Asking you to bake for yourselves is the exact opposite of employee appreciation.

    1. Sabina*

      Yes, I commented above about having to organize my own appreciation events when I was an Admin. Assistant. I also remember being given insultingly cheap crap “gifts” by management to celebrate department achievements, holidays, etc. Like worse than dollar store crap.

  38. Sara without an H*

    What are they thinking? No, I mean that seriously. What does dressing by gender ( in scrub colors nobody probably owns) have to do with honoring members of the nursing profession???

    If it were me, I’d pick black or camo, stick a deck of cards in my pocket, and bring take out pizza to the “bake off.”

  39. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    How is it showing appreciation for you by telling you to “wear a color according to your gender!” and “bake for everyone!”. This reminds me of the grotesque post I saw the other day for Administrative Professionals Day [barf] where they get “treated” to lunch [yay]….with some “important” frigging department heads. Oh joy oh joy, I get a treat to be shared with some hooha who makes 9x what I do, what a great way to show your appreciation! And the ones who make the admins set their own “celebration” up.

    So besides the absolutely outrageous attempts at failed fun activities, they miss the whole point.

    The doctors need to be baking for the nurses and the nurses get to wear whatever they want. I’m not dressing up as a clown or in some kind of “festive” gear to celebrate my appreciation *scowls*

    1. Brett*

      I was wondering if National Nurses Week is something that should go in the trashbin of workplace history like Administrative Professionals Day should. It is purposely separating off nurses as a separate class of employees in a medical workplace.
      Then I checked and found that there is a National Physicians Week and a National Doctor’s Day, National EMS Week, World Physical Therapy day, World Psychotherapy Day, Music Therapy Day, Health Care Professionals Day, Registered Dietician Day, National Social Worker’s Month, National Nursing Home Assistant Week, Health Unit Coordinators Week, American Pharmacists Month ….

      So I guess pretty much every class of healthcare employee gets their own day, week, or month.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Well there’s also a “Bosses Day” to be fair.

        THROW THEM ALL IN THE TRASH, stop separating us and let us all be a team like we’re supposed to be. Celebrate each other every day by being good to one another and appreciating each other every day.

        It goes along with my loathing for Valentine as well. Commercializing and making things hokey cheapens the actual love and appreciation that should be given without prompting. *climbs off soap box and lights it on fire*

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Hey you wanna wait to make sure we’re *all* off the soap box before you light that match next time?

          ::pours cold water on face flames::

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            That’s what you get for not having your own, since we’re all individuals and not a group, NO SHARING >:]

      2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        It’s National Lab Week right now.

        It’s a big hit with my lab, but that’s because three of us support staff bust our butts to make amazing things happen. Like getting vendors to buy us lunch every day this week, coordinating all that, getting prizes for a raffle, etc.

    2. Arjay*

      Around these parts, “hooha” is slang for vagina, so I found this particularly entertaining. :)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s slang around here too but mostly for kids who are too shy to say “vagina” or rather who’s parents would throw a fit if they ever did. Just like dingdong, dingy and wiener for those who may wear blue ;)

    3. pcake*

      My thought was to let the department heads or higher ups at the hospital do the baking – or have them just buy lunch for all.

  40. RUKiddingMe*

    1. I would outright refuse to wear pink *or* bake/cook anything. Way way way too much gender involved. I know not everyone can do that, but I’d quit before I did this.

    2. Alison please figure out how to sell Lone Cranky Feminist (TM) dolls!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was just thinking of baking the pink clothes then show up at work, “Oh that is not what you said??”

  41. ClinicalAnalyst*

    I am not clinical but work for a hospital. I’ve actually worked for several different hospitals in several different states over the last ten years, and cannot imagine any of them trying to implement such a weird exercise. No advice, but I would take it exactly the way you seem to be taking it. I always say nurses are some of the hardest working and most under appreciated people in the workforce, and I am so sorry that this seems to be the route they are taking to “celebrate” you.

  42. yup*

    I was originally expecting the colors to be “mismatched” with women encouraged to wear blue and men being encouraged to wear pink as a way to show nursing is a valuable profession across genders. For some reason I found that less objectionable (still weird, but I could have seen the positive intent). This just doesn’t make sense.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      And why not just let them wear a button or something in the appropriate colors, then? The whole thing is just dumb.

      1. Janie*

        I believe it’s a reference to a… statement? From a policitian? Who said that nurses in rural hospitals didn’t have anything to do at night so they must be playing cards? I only vaguely remember it.

  43. CupcakeCounter*

    The weird thing is that historically, pink was the color for a boy since it was considered to be a strong, bold color and light blue was for girls because it was “soft and serene”. Not really sure when that changed but I always found it to be a funny little tidbit.
    We also had more men than women participate in our bake sale this past Monday but not a single man entered the chili cook off a few months back.

    Also unless you work on the maternity floor the pink and blue make ZERO sense (and even then it is weird).

    1. valentine*

      and even then it is weird
      I find it downright ominous. “No matter your dreams for your little one, guess what’s coming.”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Besides, baking doesn’t pay those bills like all those poker games they have going on behind the nursing stations.

  44. Sled dog mama*

    Oh man, I’d love to see my employer try this. Heads would roll at the uproar from staff. And most if not al the nursing staff would be like “WTF you make up color call by department every other day and now you want me to color code by gender. I don’t think so.”
    Last year for nursing appreciation we had a baking contest. Everyone but nurses could enter and only nurses got to vote on the winner. Awesome idea because it meant that everyone in the hospital could participate and there were tons of goodies for nursing appreciation. The winner got bragging rights.

    1. iglwif*

      Oh, see, now THAT is a baking contest idea I could get behind! That’s how you celebrate nurses, by baking for them rather than making them bake for themselves / everyone else.

    2. Llellayena*

      Oh I like that option! I wasn’t opposed to the baking contest because I like to bake, but it does make more sense that it is *everyone but the nurses* who bake rather than inviting the people you’re celebrating to bake.

  45. iglwif*

    So, wait, the messages here are

    1. We are celebrating all you do by telling you what to wear
    1a. Which may also require you to go spend more of your own money, in case you don’t already own scrubs in the “correct” colour
    2. We are celebrating all you do by telling you to bake your own treats


    Yeah, no, nope.

    And that’s before we even get into the weird-ass gender stuff??

    I’d vote for everyone wearing green or white or yellow scrubs (those are the colors I usually use for baby blankets, hats, etc., because even gender-conformity-obsessed people like my in-laws seem to agree that all babies can be dressed in those colors ::sigh::) and bringing supermarket baked goods marked “reduced for quick sale” for the baking contest. :P :P

  46. Chemistry Chick*

    Ugh, this made my skin crawl. Really hope you can make them see reason, OP.

    Also, I would totally wear a Lone Cranky Feminist shirt. Especially while I’m pregnant.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      It’s starting to look…from the volume of people wanting a LCF shirt/action figure, that we are kind of an army of cranky feminists. Woo hoo!

  47. Engineer*

    They should make it a scrub fashion show that is voluntary to participate in. Find/Make the best/outlandish scrub set and wear it with pride. People who don’t want to participate, don’t have to, and the others can have a fun time while looking fabulous.

    Pizzas are technically baked, so fits within the parameters of a baking contest. I’d have a pizza delivered and call it a day.

  48. Wing Leader*


    Also, this “certain colors for certain genders” thing is nothing more than a marketing trick. When it first started–get this–pink was for boys and blue was for girls. Read about the history of it sometime, it’s really interesting.

    If you can get everyone on board, I say all women show up in blue and all men show up in pink. Then explain how you’re just following “tradition” because this is how it originally was.

    1. anon4this*

      Pink used to be seen as light red, more “masculine”, while blue/light blue was “dainty” and for women.
      It flipped and was normalized to blue=boy, girl=pink, in the 1950s after copying a french trend for telling boy/girl twins apart by dressing them in opposing colors (because it’s a really big deal to recognize the gender of a stranger’s baby) or so I’ve heard.
      It’s weird to learn so much ingrained societal preferences for genders are just the byproduct of some rando’s preferences.

      1. valentine*

        all women show up in blue and all men show up in pink
        This is still binary-enforcing.

        it’s a really big deal to recognize the gender of a stranger’s baby
        There’s a study where a woman sat in public with a baby dressed in white and, when asked, said she didn’t know the gender, as she was watching them while the mom was in the restroom. Well, people were very distressed and one even offered to check.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          My friend runs a pet store and has had customers get genuinely upset at the idea of their male dog having a pink leash/toy/bowl. “He’d be so embarrassed” etc. The mind boggles.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            That’s right up there with someone getting their dog neutered and replacing the excised parts with prosthetic ones (google “neuticles”) so he’ll stll look like a “regular guy”!

            1. Slartibartfast*

              The neuticles merchandise is spectacular. I bought the earrings for a veterinarian friend.

            2. Anonybus*

              This seems ridiculous, but I’m guessing it’s the only way that some (equally ridiculous) people can be convinced that it’s ok to neuter their dogs.

  49. Essess*

    To show true appreciation, the baking contest would be amongst the members of management, with the nursing staff being the judges by eating all the treats that the management brings in.

  50. strawmeatloaf*

    “Whoops, looks like I’m male for the day.” But that’s because I don’t like to wear pink that much.

    But I hope you have an HR department. This is unacceptable.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      When I was a vet tech, my scrubs were either the regular green, or BRIGHT TURQUOISE (so was my stethoscope.)

      I wouldn’t be caught DEAD in a pink scrub.

  51. Linzava*

    This is so backwards. Reminded me about how my high school did a “slave day” for spirit week…in 2001! I did not participate in spirit week that year.

          1. Linzava*

            Nobody sued, it was a private school, we did have black students (though, not as many as white kids). The money went straight to the school. It was crazy, I didn’t understand how they thought it was okay. As you can imagine, only the popular white kids participated.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Was this some kind of secret social experiment? Because otherwise, there is NO excuse.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Oh god. There is actually a YA novel called “Slave Day” by Rob Thomas (it’s quite well-written) about a high school that held one.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Is it the Rob Thomas that did Veronica Mars, the one that is in Matchbox Twenty, or a different one altogether?

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I can imagine that could be a very good novel that makes the point about privileged white teens who have no clue about the world.

  52. Unfurloughed Fed*

    Do you have any friends who would help contribute to a bakery cake decorated as a deck of cards? Because I would pony up a few bucks to help a nurse friend out for that.

  53. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

    Because I can’t stop thinking about seeing the musical (hopefully) soon…

    Cady: “Do you own anything pink?”
    Janis: “No.”
    Damian: “Yes!”

    Welp, you can’t sit with them.

  54. Chaordic One*

    Why is the cranky feminist action figure lone?

    Shouldn’t there be a posse of feminist action figures?

    1. Midlife Tattoos*

      Yes, each with their own eyebrow positions

      left eyebrow up – skepticism
      right eyebrow up – done with your shit

  55. Not So NewReader*

    OP, if you run out of things to say/do, why not print out Alison’s answer and plaster it around?

  56. CatCat*

    I think even Florence Nightingale (a free thinker and statistician with revolutionary ideas) would barf.

    Is there a way to get a cake of this for the baking contest?

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Or get a round cake decorated to match her radial plot of mortality rates in the Crimea (demonstrating that death from disease far outweighed death from actual war) — the graph that launched the modern field of nursing. Easily google-able, and a good bakery should be able to replicate it.

  57. NW Mossy*

    Do they make SpongeBob SquarePants meme scrubs?

    “Ladies wear pink men wear blue”
    “LaDiEs WeAr PiNk MeN wEaR bLuE”

  58. MuseumChick*

    You could try framing this as a PR and HR nightmare to the higher ups. If your institution has public said they are going to make effects for thing like inclusion this send the exact opposite message. I believe the HR nightmare(s) go without saying.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      I think you could also frame it by saying you’re not sure how wearing a particular color, any color, at all in fact, helps to celebrate National Nurses Week. For instance, if you all had to wear yellow scrubs, how is that a celebration?

    2. Mae S*

      Maybe send this to your local new agency. I am sure this would be an interesting piece on a slow news day.

  59. KehSquared*

    Nothing says “Thank you for all you do!” like making you bake a cake for your own thank you celebration.

  60. CommanderBanana*

    This is so stupid. I will never understand how management skips right past the stuff people want (early release, vacation time, MONEY, free food) and lands right on activities that are just………stupid.

    My last director was worried (rightfully so) about burnout in her staff, so she asked us all what we suggested, then shot down every suggestion, all of which were pretty reasonable, like comp time for working 16+ hour days at conferences, and landed on…ORDER PIZZA ONCE. That will fix it! Burnout problem solved!

    1. Dragoning*

      In fairness I don’t think nurses are really a career that work with “early release.”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Depending on where you’re a nurse of course, the money and benefits come with the territory. All my nurse friends vacation in tropical locations multiple times a year but that’s after spending 12hr shifts for weeks at a time pulling in that money to do so.

      But seriously, you can still show appreciation with food or bringing in some massage chairs for the breakroom, etc. Something that just says “We see you and we appreciate that you’re busting your butts.”

      And also when you disregard the idea that you can combat burnout in some people, it happens because we’re humans and overworking has dangerous consequences :(

  61. AnonyMousse*

    Lone Cranky Feminist— it me at work. I’d total buy the crap out of everything in that line of merch to display at work.

  62. Not Maeby*

    This is the opposite of showing appreciation, ugh! I would push back on it, or just show up wearing whatever I darn well pleased on kick-off day.

    Slightly off-topic, but I’ve seen several references to a deck of cards in these comments… can someone enlighten me how that ties to the gender aspect of this? I’m confused. TYIA

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      A senator in Colorado (maybe washington state) made a completely asinine comment that nurses really just play cards in all their down time. The uproar, oh the uproar. Senator is an idiot. Even rural hospitals, which are small, are also understaffed and nurses don’t get the breaks they need. She was promoting some bill about breaks. The memes have been epic.

      1. Fiddlesticks*

        It was my home state (sigh), Washington. To be fair, she didn’t actually say that ALL nurses sit around playing cards all day – she said that nurses in small rural hospitals, which (she believes) are not overrun with large numbers of patients or other demands, probably sit around playing cards.

        She’s kind of a dumbass.

      2. Wing Leader*

        What the heck?

        I used to work in a hospital (not as a medical employee, but I was all around them). Also, my aunt is a nurse, and let me tell you that nurses do not have one ounce of “down time.” They are on constant go for 12 hours straight, sometimes longer.

        Senator is an idiot. She apologized for her comments and said she was “tired.” Bet she’s not as tired as the nurses that work double the hours she works.

    2. Not Maeby*

      After posting this, I remembered that Google is a thing and looked it up on my own. Now I get it! :)

    3. Emi.*

      It doesn’t; it just ties to disrespect for nurses. Recently a senator said that nurses probably spend their time playing cards and (I think) therefor don’t need breaks.

  63. TinLizzie*

    It seems weird to have a contest at all. Just sounds like extra work for the people who are supposed to be being honored. But, if they were going to have a contest, shouldn’t it be something like a healthy snack contest. That way instead of sugar, there’s also sharing of healthy recipes and tips? Just seems like it fits with being a nurse better.

  64. Elizabeth*

    I just had to double-check that the color idea didn’t come from one of the various associations that surround the profession. Unfortunately, some of them are just hidebound enough to think it would be a good idea. Fortunately, I didn’t find any of them that actually have suggested it. (I was really worried about the American Hospital Association having suggested it.)

    You could always kick it over to the American Nurses Association and let them have a go. That’s the sort of thing that they tend to find at least somewhat demeaning to the profession.

  65. Apparently a really big feminist*

    100% would buy Lone Cranky Feminist action figure. I could display it with the Most Feminist Staffer trophy I actually received at my last job!

  66. Czhorat*

    I’ll add that any men who work with OP should absolutely chime in on this and make it known that they find this not OK.

    It’s very easy for us men to let things like this pass because it doesn’t directly hurt us. We all need to do better.

    Fellow gents, we are afforded a measure of unearned privilege in this society. Let’s use some of it to save the ladies in our lives and workplaces from having to be the “lone cranky feminist” when something like this comes up.

    1. Marvel*

      I would argue that strict enforcement of the gender binary does hurt men, often rather a lot, be they trans, cis, or somewhere in between. It’s good to speak up even if you’re not the one being hurt, of course, but in this case I don’t think it applies.

      1. Grapey*

        I agree, and in fact there was a study that shows boy’s gender roles are more rigidly enforced by parents vs girls.

        Of course, it stems from misogyny in that it’s ok to be a tomboy if you’re a girl but “weirder” for a boy to wear dresses/pink scrubs because it’s feminine.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          And apparently, according to some people I’ve argued about this with, fabric and thread that have been formed into the shape of dresses/skirts, or that are pink, somehow have this AMAZING MAGICAL POWER to instantly turn cishet men into homosexuals and/or women, should they so much as DARE to don them for even a moment.

          I wonder- do misogyny & homophobia by themselves strip people of their IQ and reason, or do you have to be giant ignoramus in the first place to even believe such utter bullshit?

    2. Wing Leader*

      I agree that it can definitely be harmful to both genders. Next time, are they going to have a car-fixing contest for the men to participate in? *rolls eyes*

      I say this as a strong-willed, feminist woman who is married to a soft-spoken, sports-hating, cooking-loving man (and no, I don’t yank him around like some people seem to think).

      While I have been told that I’m too opinionated and bold and need to back off, my husband has been told that he is too emotional and “soft” and needs to be more manly. He’s also a painter and calligrapher, and he’s been told that he needs to find a “manlier” profession.

      It really is a sad thing. Just let people be who they are–regardless if they are male, female, non-binary, trans, etc.– and stop turning everything into a gender war.

  67. LaDeeDa*

    I can’t even with this. I don’t really have any advice, I usually don’t have a problem being the Lone Loud Angry Feminist for things like this. I would probably do as Alison said and have a nice, calm, and objective conversation with whoever organized it and let them know that it is problematic- and why. I would also supply them with a ton of articles and research around why using such language is exclusionary, and the host of problems that can cause. I would also probably show up in my purple t-shirt with the slogan “Inclusion not Exclusion” in rainbow letters.

    If your org has an HR department I would politely inquire if they have plans to start a Diversity & Inclusion initiative and show them this flyer as a good reason why they need to consider it.

    I can’t even address “ladies” … I guess we should be happy they didn’t say “gals” (sarcasm)
    OP, I hope you will give us an update and let us know how it all turns out.

    1. Midlife Tattoos*

      Are you me?

      I’ve done this type of call-out three times now at my company, twice about their plans to further include women in leadership, the other was an abhorrent ‘redeem your points here’ kind of site that my company implemented where you could pick prizes by gender. Of course all the stuff under “Women” was makeup, and under “Men” was camping gear. I e-mailed the HR VP in about 15 seconds after it rolled out.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        Good for you!! D&I actually falls under my scope at work. And nearly everything goes through me or the head of internal comms who is incredibly in touch with exclusionary language. So we’ve avoided some missteps.

      2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        But which one do Goth guys who are into the outdoors (yes they exist) get to choose from?

    2. Anonforthis*

      OMG Gals….I used to work for a company that makes and sells maternity wear. Women-friendly, you’d think, right? Nope. The former CEO used to constantly talk about the “pregnant gals” who were, you know, our customers. Ugh ugh ugh.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        Until a fairly recent point in time, I would have thought that companies who make maternity wear actually hated women, because it was ALL so goddam ugly, unflattering, and frumpy.
        Seriously whoever decided that all maternity clothing should look like conservative religious “modest dress” with Peter Pan collars deserves to be kicked in the teeth forever. I used to wonder why pregnant women all dressed so awful, until a good friend got pregnant and told me awful clothes were the only thing that existed. I scoured every thrift store I could find for things she would find cute & comfortable, and it made her SO happy.

  68. Urdnot Bakara*

    The shirt thing is ridiculous. I have less of a problem with the baking competition because my office has occasional (optional!) bake-offs (and one person who regularly wins is a man). That said, I can absolutely see how in nursing–a field still dominated by women, and because therefore people often make the ridiculous assumption that nurse=woman and doctor=man–this is a completely different scenario. I’d love to get their thought process in picking that activity!

  69. Lobsterman*

    My mom was a nurse when I was growing up, and I will never understand the bone-deep hatred the docs and admin at hospitals have for nurses. The hostility was always palpable and totally unmotivated.

    All of my mom’s friends from her profession had at least one addiction. At least one.

    This feels like it’s straight out of my childhood dinner conversation…

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s the deeply ingrained hierarchy that healthcare clings to desperately. It’s all about superiority and class.

  70. AnotherJill*

    I used to work somewhere where we were occasionally encouraged to wear red for some reason, I can’t remember why now. I had a pair of red Chucks that I would wear as a nod to going along.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Is it because it’s a “Power Color” perhaps? I used to hear about that ages ago because it’s bold and brings attention to yourself.

      Or was it for cardiac disease perhaps? That’s a thing, I forget when that day is specifically though

      There are days that have color themes to raise awareness for certain diseases or social issues, like the Susan G Colman Breast Cancer pink.

  71. annab53*

    Too bad you can’t get everyone together and agree that all men will wear pink and all women will wear blue. Just enough thumbing your nose at the absurdity to make a point.

  72. heather*

    the color coded dressing thing is bananas, but i didn’t read the bake-off as a gendered activity?

    1. Elspeth*

      Asking for the gendered colors + asking for the nurses to bake for their own appreciation week = problematical and sexist.

  73. West Coast Reader*

    It’s clear that Alison can have a successful spin off business of merchandise with quotes and jokes from the AAM community. I would love a Lone Cranky Feminist action figure.

  74. AKchic*

    Mandatory fun with color-coordinated dress codes and seemingly-gendered and non-optional competitions. Morale will be boosted, or else!

  75. Mae S*

    My husband is a nurse! I would say about 1/3 of the nurses on his unit are men. They are required to wear navy scrubs. I would never spend the $50+ bucks for special color just for a fun event, however I would be tempted to buy him pink ones out of spite. I do believe many men are just as good of cooks/bakers as women it blows my mind that the leadership believes a way to show “appreciation” is to make the nurses do more work by baking! Honestly, this hospital sounds really unprofessional. Is it even located in the United States?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The sickest part of the men not being good cooks/bakers is that in professional cooking it’s hard AF to be a woman in a professional kitchen. So when we do this kind of “oh the “ladies” shall do some baking/cooking for us” nonsense, I cackle to save myself from crying. My brother is a professional cook, I still have to call him from time to time to ask him stupid things about how to make things, he took over making Thanksgiving dinner years ago because my mom’s cooking techniques stress him out so much LOL

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        My ex-husband was a professional chef/caterer. I, on the other hand, have just learned how to make things without following recipes in my forties.

    2. OP*

      Yes, most definitely in the US, but with HR and management mostly stuck in the 1950s and/or devoted to the bureaucracy and maintaining the status quo.

      1. Observer*

        Well, maybe someone should point out to them that if they want to protect the status quo this is a REALLY bad idea. Because if anyone ever tries to sue them for gender discrimination and tries to force some real change, an event like this is going to work against them – it’s going to be seen (with good reason) as an organization that actually officially treats women and men differently.

    3. Who Plays Backgammon*

      My mother (a Woman) did awful things to poor unsuspecting food. Maybe I developed cuisine antennae from that, because most of the men I’ve been involved with have been gangbusters in the kitchen. Whoever cooks the best wears pink!

  76. TootsNYC*

    I wouldn’t even own pink scrubs! Or do they normally supply your scrubs via a laundry service? I don’t know how that works, specifically.

    I suppose it wouldn’t be unlikely for a guy to already own blue scrubs. I just would wear whatever.

    Baking doesn’t bother me personally as much; it’s not automatically gendered, and I know my own brother would bring his famous brownies. I organized a cookie swap for Christmas at my company once (with provisions for buying, or for bringing popcorn), and I never really thought of it as gendered. We did have guys bake, and women who didn’t. It’s mostly that this is in combination with the pink and blue.

    I think it would have been cooler to have “cool scrubs”–I mean, you don’t want people gluing sequins on them, that seems unhygenic, but don’t nurses often have wacky prints, or pretty prints, on their scrubs?

    But anyway, I think I’d treat the scrubs thing exactly the way I’d treat the baking thing.

    The baking thing is clearly only for those who bake to compete, and for everyone else to get to eat. It’s not really INTENDED for everyone, only for a subgroup.

    So I’d just say “I’m the subgroup that doesn’t wear pink or blue,” and I’d wear the coolest looking scrubs I had. So I’m wearing “special scrubs,” but I’m not signing on to gender rules. I have dinosaurs, or palm trees, or NASCAR scrubs.

  77. Paperdill*

    How? What? I’m…what? I can’t even!!!
    What organisation do you work for?
    I’m a nurse with the state health department and with the focus on inclusivity and diversity a literally written in to our policies, guidelines and codes of ethics there is no way in earth this kind of nonsense would have ever even been uttered. What are your high ups thinking???
    Side note, I noticed I had a reduced workload on my roster for IND and asked my boss – she told me it was so I could attend the celebratory lunch. Yay! Awesome! My colleagues and I finally getting a little treat for the day to celebrate. Then I noticed no one else’s workload was reduced. I asked about it and got told “oh, because we still need to cover the clinics and meet the kpi’s” or the higher ups will complain. So happy IND to my team, where only one person is actually able to attend the celebrations. Should be fun…

    1. WellRed*

      It’s one thing to need clinic coverage but the higher ups should stuff their kpis for a day.

      1. Paperdill*

        Exactly! We don’t provide an emergency service – we could easily have closed it or minimized it significantly for two hours.

  78. Jennifer Juniper*

    Not everyone owns blue or pink clothing – or looks good in same. Also, what if you don’t have pink or blue professional clothing? Making people spend their own money for some costume to wear at work is stupid.

  79. Gumby*

    I have definitely worked places where there were baking contests of various sorts. Also potlucks. But people who didn’t want to participate just didn’t. It wasn’t mandatory for everyone. You needed about 5% participation to have dessert for everyone.

    But we also didn’t have weird gendered expectations around it. Most of my jobs have been in male-dominated fields and the men were just as capable and just as enthusiastic as the women when it came to potlucks. Now, to be fair, there were some *teams* who were populated by not-great cooks but since the not-great team and the best-food team were both entirely men, it was just happenstance. The terrible/unenthusiatic cooks generally brought the chips/dip/tres leches cake that their mother made (I really miss Mrs. [Co-worker’s Last Name] – she was the best!). So it never felt like “hey, you are women, you should bake.”

  80. Robin Ellacott*

    Quite apart from the weird gender stuff, forced competition and extra work to do on your own time are epically bizarre ideas for making staff feel appreciated.

  81. Jaded*

    I work somewhere that has non uniform days as a perk. Which would be ok by itself. Except that it takes the form of having to wear a specified different colour each time, and if you participate you have to donate to a set charity. And I have a problem with this because, although it’s small amounts each time, it all adds up. If I’m giving to charity I want to a. Choose the cause myself b. Research the charity so I know how it will spend my money and c. Give in such a way that I can get the tax credit.

    I certainly don’t want to have to spend my evening planning my outfit and – worse! – spend time and money the weekend beforehand buying something I’ll never wear again.

    I just. … don’t participate. Ever. It costs a certain amount of social capital, but it’s a price I’d rather pay. Active resistance is good, if you can, but keeping quiet and turning up in normal clothes on the day – what are they going to do? Send you home? But it does come down to what you know you can get away with.

  82. Nanc*

    Everyone should show up in Call the Midwife Season 2 puffy sleeved dresses with ruffled aprons. Or Sister Evangelina Season 5 habit and plimsoles.

  83. Stephanie*

    How offensive and so very backward. I wonder what your manager would think if I told her that my husband’s favorite color is pink? So much so that I bought him a 7/8 size acoustic hot pink guitar for Christmas one year?
    And my 17 year old son’s favorite color is purple. He chose the paint color for his room when I repainted last fall. His pick? A lovely shade of lavender.

  84. Elsewhere1010*

    I would like to purchase one dozen Lone Cranky Feminist action figures to give as gifts to the brilliant nurses I have worked with, and one for my eight-year-old niece. Thank you.

  85. Marthooh*

    “How can we best show appreciation for nurses?”


    “I know! We’ll enforce irrelevant gender norms in the workplace! And have a bakeoff!”

  86. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Ooh ooh ooh, how about all the “gals” wear polka dots and all the “gents” wear stripes!

    And insist on a companion contest along with the bake-off. Have a “change-off” to see who can change a tire the fastest!

    Jeezy. And I thought my firm was a dinosaur because the administrative workers are still referred to as “the girls.” I guess that includes the male admins. Because, you know, “girl” is a synonym for “admin.”

    Sorry to sound snarky. Because I am, like, incredulous.

  87. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I know this is a serious issue, but it’s also so silly I can’t stop laughing. How about everyone shows up naked and brings a bag of Chips Ahoy? Or wears their tattiest underwear and brings graham crackers?

  88. Batgirl*

    Of course every nurse’s idea of fun is to dress up in pink and bake. The blue scrubs seem like a definite afterthought and I bet you they are priding themselves on that much inclusiveness! “Whee, nearly forgot we have male nurses too! Good catch by me!”

    Does anyone feel like this is more about celebrating the hospital management than the nurses? Like: “show your dedication and be decorative and festive so we can point out what an amazing workplace we have created?”

  89. Rez123*

    I’m a bit late to the party. The whole pink and blue thing is problematic, but my main issue is that I don’t get it. Like, I don’t see the connection with nurse appreciation and gendered colors. I can maybe see it if there are field day competitions in teams boys vs. girls or something (still ridiculous, but I can then at least see a connection).

  90. Pippin's Mom*

    The pink and blue is just…uggghhhh.

    I honestly never thought of a baking contest as gendered or problematic – unless it’s mandatory. Today is the last day of National Medical Laboratory Week and we celebrate the week by playing sciency, geeky games and about every other year or so have a baking contest. A lot of us, both men and women, like to bake and it’s always been a lot of fun.

    Management provides prizes for games and provides a nice lunch once or twice during the week but the staff plan the activities that they’d like and have chosen the baking contest. I can’t quite imagine telling staff that they have to bake, though.

    1. Observer*

      The truth is that I wouldn’t have thought of the bake-off as gendered, but the context combined with some history make me wonder in this case.

  91. Someone*

    Seems less like an appreciation day and more like one of those mandatory, annoying and everything but nice corporate fun(tm) events

  92. NopeNopeNope*

    Bake off? If that were me I’d hope they like store bought cookies, cause I don’t cook (unless microwaving chimichangas count). In this house I go to work and my husband takes care of the domestic stuff that I’ve never had either the desire or skill to do. My last job they would do little events like the one described in the letter they described and I made it clear where I stood. I don’t know what else to say other than wow its 2019, not 1950.

  93. Michelle*

    this reminds me of the Better off Ted episode where the Company decides on 4 non offensive themes and decorate the employees office for them.

  94. JeremyBearimy*

    So much rage. Please bake a pinata cake, but inside it’s full of toy birds. Are birds for boys or girls? They are for no one and everyone, they are birds.

  95. Adam*

    I might missing some info here, but why are suggesting to wear a color, and organizing a voluntary baking contest considered so infuriating by every commenter here?

    Don’t like the colors? Don’t wear them.
    Don’t like baking? Don’t enter the contest.

    1. Elspeth*

      A. It’s supposed to be an employee appreciation day, not a “let’s make more work for the already overworked nurses day.”
      B. Being told to wear certain gender-based colors, as well as having to bake something for their own consumption is not a good way to show appreciation, and is also non-exclusive.

      1. Adam*

        I don’t know what employee appreciation day is, we don’t have those in my country.
        I agree, better events could be organized for such occasion, this sounds kind of lame.

        Maybe my english is way off, but to me it read, as if both the baking and the colors are optional. No extra work required. Some nurse relatives of mine love baking.

        Still don’t understand why non mandatory gender based colors are considered so bad.
        I envy the problems of the commenters here.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, you are missing information and context. The colors are reinforcing sexism and gender essentialism. The baking contest, in that context, comes across as sexist. The “men and ladies” is, again, sexist.

          Don’t envy women who have to deal with sexism; that’s gross.

          1. Adam*

            All right, I will read about what gender essentialism is, to try to understand more.
            At this point, I doubt this really qualifies as sexism, but I might be wrong.

            I didn’t say I envy people dealing with sexism, I meant I envy the people, whose biggest problem is that someone somewhere organized a baking contest and used the word ‘ladies’.

            Just for reference, my parents biggest worries were to not say something critical about politics publicly, that could land them in jail under soviet rule, and how to put food on the table, even if it’s nothing more then bread and lard and salt.
            One of my largest worries is, how am I going to pay for appartmant, or how do I care for my elderly mother.
            Not baking contests.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          I think there’s plenty of commenters here that have well described the issues, I highly suggest scrolling and reading.

          And it’s really….off-putting to say you envy having to deal with sexism. This really is not the place for a “everyone can’t have sandwiches” discussion.

          1. Adam*

            I’ve scrolled through the comments, and don’t understand, most comments just stated their outrage, no explanation provided.
            I’m trying to follow and understand american culture, because it’s interesting, and has a big impact over the world.
            But this trend of perpetual victimhood, and constantly seeking offence over everything mentality that popped up in the last couple of years is really bizarre.

            “Deal with sexism” – Really? Someone somewhere organized a baking contest, and used the word ‘ladies’, suggested to wear a color?

  96. Database Developer Dude*

    I’m cis, straight, and male. I would rebel by deliberately wearing pink, and baking a ‘Better-than-Sex’ chocolate cake. This is so incredibly insane. There is no where this is normal.

  97. yet another library anon*

    …for our employee appreciation week, they brought in a bunch of students from the local massage school and set up a very nice area with soothing music and danishes and coffee and infused water…

    not bragging. Just saying if, like…the folks running this need any better ideas of literally anything else they could do than gender-coded color coordination and bake-it-yourself-with-all-your-copious-spare-time-and-energy.

    like, if anyone deserves a spa day and a massage, it’s nurses!

  98. Michaela Westen*

    So you work a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding job 40+ hours/week, and you’re supposed to go home and bake?
    SO not happening.

  99. Luna*

    You seem to find the color-based-on-gender thing outdated, yet at the words of ‘baking contest’ for the nursing staff, you immediately jumped to the conclusion that other people (also) believe that nurse = woman and woman = baking. At least, that’s how it read to me. After all, it’s not just women that bake.

    Just wear whatever dang color you want. If someone asks why not pink, “Well, I decided to not base my clothing on what genitalia I have. My genitalia do not define me as a person, nor as an employee.” Though that might sound a bit crass… but I would assume nursing staff is used to crass words, given the things one has to deal with in that job.

    1. Elspeth*

      Yes, but taken in context with telling people to wear those colors – blue for boys, pink for girls – it sounds pretty sexist.

  100. workerbee*

    What a weird and terrible idea the bake-off is. “Let’s celebrate our nurses by giving them extra work to do outside of work!”

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