should I organize an all-men beach weekend for my coworkers, asking for time to process things before responding, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. Should I organize an all-men beach weekend for my coworkers?

I work at a bank branch of about 17 people, nine of whom are male. I’m considering inviting all the guys in the office for a weekend at the beach. We all get along and enjoy golfing, and think it could be a fun weekend. I wouldn’t be advertising it around the office because this would be a “guys weekend,” but since all the guys in the office are being invited, I’m anticipating the women in the office hearing about it and causing some drama.

Am I overthinking this because of the office culture we live in today, or is there a specific way that I should approach this? No work is going on during the trip, so no “deals” are being made. We are simply hanging out. The simple fact is that us guys are all pretty friendly towards one another and enjoy each other’s company. We’re all on the same career path and no one officially answers to or manages the other. Thoughts?

Yeah, it’s likely to be a problem. There’s a long history of women being excluded professionally through informal all-male social networks, where men are included in networking and business conversations in off-hours social settings without women. You have to understand that history to understand why, even if you 100% don’t intend this that way, it’s likely to have echoes of that to people. (Especially with the golf, by the way, as that was a traditional way women were excluded. Golf and strip clubs.)

Don’t be part of that, and definitely don’t be the person who organizes it. At a minimum it’s going to look really bad, and you may end up causing real issues in your office, as well as making people above you question your judgment.

And if you’re really friends with all the men in the office and none of the women, it’s worth thinking about why that is, since in a group of 17 people, that’s not likely to be a random quirk of statistics.


2. Can I ask for a chance to process things at work before responding?

I’m an introvert who works for and with a group of extroverts. When in critical work conversations where my boss is giving direct feedback or asking my input on changes she’d like to make to the team that I manage, I often find myself unable to think on my feet and clearly articulate what I think would work best. I know myself well enough to know that I almost always come up with better answers when I’ve had time to process things. I should add that my boss is sometimes known to spring large changes on people in our organization without much warning.

I’ve thought about asking for some of those types of “change” announcements/suggestions in email, or asking for a day or two to think about things, but I’m afraid of it not being received well or being perceived as weaker because some of the other managers aren’t like this and she likes to make quick decisions. Is it ever appropriate to ask for a chance to process? If so, when and how? If that’s not appropriate, what else can I do?

Yes, at least sometimes. Ways to say it in the moment:

* “I want to take a little time to reflect on this. Can I come back to you with input by Thursday?”

* “Do you need our thoughts right now, or could we take a couple of days to think on this and then revisit it?”

* “My initial thought is ___, but I haven’t fully digested it yet. Could I take some time to think this through and come back to you later this week?”

You could also address it more big-picture with your boss: “I find I’m more able to give you input on things like X and Y if I have some time to think rather than doing it on the spot. I know that’s not possible with everything, but where there is room to circulate things a bit before we’ll be asked to comment on them, it would help me give you better input.”


3. Taking a two-month vacation my first year on a job

I’m fresh out of college (though I started late and am now 30) and an important thing I wasn’t able to do before now was really in-depth travel (due to either school or low-paying temp jobs between semesters). I now can happily say I have a two-month vacation planned in Asia with my best friend starting in eight months! We’ve been saving and planning for over a year.

The only problem is: now that I’m done with school, I’m excited to start looking for career opportunities and have found my ideal job is hiring. I’m qualified, it’s a company I really want to work for, and a job I feel passionate about. I don’t want to go back to a unrelated job when I know I’m ready for more and need the resume experience. Is it irresponsible to apply for a career job knowing I’ll be gone in eight months for a two-month span?

Should I bring my vacation up if I get the offer? Should I see what the job is like and then work on selling the trip as benefiting the company and myself in the role (it likely would help as the job is about cultural outreach within my city). I’d love to do the job remotely if they’ll let me, but I doubt I’ll know if remote is possible until I start. Is it professional to politely quit and tell them I truly hope they’ll have an opening for me when I return?

All of this is under the umbrella that I’m an excellent worker. I’ve never been fired, get promoted quickly, and my reviews are frequently in the “exceeds expectations” category. I love working and my dedication to the company and the job always shows.

Assuming you’re in the U.S., it’s very unlikely that a junior-level job is going to let you take two months off at once … ever, but especially in your first year of working there. You typically have to have a lot of capital built up to get an employer to agree to that, and if you’re just getting started in your field, you’re very unlikely to have that capital.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. It’s possible that you could find some company that would agree to it, if you negotiate it as part of your offer. But the vast majority of employers will say no to it.

It’s also not a good idea to go in planning to quit after such a short time (and by the time you’re hired and start, it’s likely to be only six months or less before the vacation), especially since you called it your ideal job. That’s likely to burn a bridge and not be great for your resume.

If you’re committed to doing the two-month vacation, you’d be better off waiting to job search until you’re back from it. But that has its own drawbacks, and sometimes it’s easier to get hired when your degree is brand new. (2023 addition: You could also try to negotiate a start date for after you return.)

But the timing here may just not work out; it might not be realistic to take a two-month vacation in the same year you’re launching yourself into a new field.


4. I’m embarrassed that my boss found out I’m living with my parents

I’m 26 years old and moved back in with my parents three months ago as a combination of getting renovicted (where a landlord evicts a tenant under the, sometimes false, reason of conducting renovation) and wanting to save up a down payment to purchase my own place.

I work in an office and have been with the company since graduating five years ago. On a recent day off, my manager called the home phone and my mother picked up and handed the phone to me. I think they were provided an outdated phone number by HR.

Obviously I am embarrassed by this, as I especially don’t want people at work to know I moved back home as an adult. People will tend to judge you and look at you a certain way and I am aware of that. Basically I’m afraid that word will get around and affect my work relationships and/or future prospects with this employer. Why would a manager want to advance someone or recommend someone who doesn’t seem to have their personal life together?

I know it shouldn’t matter on paper but people don’t behave like that. Am I being paranoid? My plan now is just to basically just ignore it ever happened and be truthful if asked (and to get HR to update my cell #). What else should I do?

You are indeed being paranoid, or at least just overthinking this. This is not a big deal! It’s not even clear that your boss knows for sure that you moved back home (for all he knows, maybe your mom just answered your phone because you couldn’t get to it in time). But even if he does know or asks about it in the future, it’s no big deal to say “I’m saving up a down payment to purchase my own place” or “I’m temporarily at my parents’ house because my landlord decided to renovate.”

Living at home doesn’t mean you don’t have your personal life together. It’s true that it can come across that way if there are other signs of that too — inability to hold down a job, refusal to engage with the rest of the world, etc. But assuming that you otherwise seem reasonably together, it’s very unlikely that this would enter into your manager’s thinking about Professional You.


{ 205 comments… read them below }

  1. TiredMama*

    ‘Dang women always causing some drama.’ Or put another way, man knowingly starts drama and then pretends like someone else started the drama.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      “How can I encourage bro culture and exclude the women without provoking those emotional and dramatic creatures?”

    2. Stitch*

      Starting drama usually, in my experience, means objecting to sexist jokes.

      9 people is not a minor get together. It’s painfully clear what’s going on here.

      1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

        In which case the drama actually started with the telling of the sexist jokes, not with the reaction to them.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s the “I invited everyone in the class but you to my birthday party but why are you taking it so personally?” taken to the level of office drama club.

    3. nom de plume*

      Couldn’t believe Alison didn’t address this part in her original answer. Women causing drama but a guys’ weekend isn’t exclusionary? Yo douchebro, your misogyny is showing.

    4. GoatMaaam*

      Yeah, I spotted that too… this LW is very dense, and Alison was much kinder than he deserved.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Right? “I’m only friends with the guys and we all just HAPPEN to like golf, dumb bimbos take everything so personally!”

    6. Quickbeam*

      I worked at a place where the boss took all the men out for lunch weekly. Like 12-15 men. No women ever. One day they were all milling around waiting for him and I said “don’t any of you see what’s wrong with this picture?”. And they all stared at me. The deal was that the women would cover the office and phones….all of us despite job description. This was just 3 years ago! It never changed but I did bring it up in my exit interview.

      1. Palliser*

        Holy cow! I’d love to hear how the boss postitioned this and what industry it was, if you could share. It’s just an insane level of favoritism.

    7. Jessica*

      What’s kind of darkly fascinating to me about this example is how blatantly it’s saying the quiet part out loud. It’s almost a relief to have the discrimination right out there in the open rather than being gaslit about whether it’s happening.

      At my first real job, at a young tech company (about 100 employees at the time), the men in the company decided to form a soccer team. Well and good, I suppose. It was mostly senior and management people but not execs (I think there were two execs on it). It was exclusionary, it was male coworkers bonding with higher-ups in an exclusively male space, but that wasn’t even what was so grating about it.

      What was grating was that we had weekly all-hands meetings and the soccer bros, since they were mostly management, would spend the first 15-20 minutes of our 1-hour meeting giving us updates on the soccer team’s last game.

      Finally, I went to the PM, who was on the soccer team, and told him I didn’t feel it was appropriate. If the soccer team was an actual outside-work activity, why were we spending 1/3 of every all-hands meeting on it? And if it WAS a work activity that needed to be covered in meetings, it was probably illegal since women couldn’t join the team.

      I got a very condescending explanation about how the rules of the soccer league said that co-ed teams had to have equal numbers of men and women, and we didn’t have enough women at the company, let alone enough women who actually knew how to play soccer, for that to work, so the team HAD to be all-male, and how I should be proud and happy for our company team when they won.

      I then got called into the offices of the execs who were on the team to be dressed down for not being a team player.

      I noted in as calm a voice as possible that one can’t be a team player when one is literally not allowed on the team.

      I didn’t get fired, but it definitely made my relationships with most of the soccer bros very uncomfortable.

      The company went under the following year, mostly due to very obvious bad decisions by management.

      1. BabyElephantWalk*

        There’s something reassuring about a man flat out admitting that he is looking to plan an event that excludes the women, even if he’s being dishonest as to why.

    8. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Came here to say this. Very interesting that LW1 sees people objecting to unequal treatment based on gender as “causing drama.”

  2. Rick*

    1. I’m on the fence about it. Is the guy planning a trip a supervisor or boss? If so, then Idosee a problem. If it’s just him and a bunch of friends, I don’t see a problem with it if he’s just an employee. I’m sure there are female coworkers that go out with just themselves without any men.

    1. Mid*

      From the attitude about women coming out of that letter, I think it should be a solid “no.” If it was a LW who didn’t have disdain for women oozing out of him, it might be more tolerable. But in this case, no fence needed.

              1. Solokid*

                I googled it out of curiosity and there’s many more meanings than I expected. “Letter writer” didn’t magically filter its way to the top.

                Doesn’t it make so much more sense to ask users who can explain it in context, where those that can’t be bothered can scroll by?

          1. Beany*

            I prefer LW, since really Alison is the *only* poster here (it’s not Reddit or some other discussion board).

            1. to varying degrees*

              Agree (though I’d include the commenters as posters as they are posting their own comments and so I’m okay with OP also being the first part of a thread) and I thought I was the only one!!

    2. Not Australian*

      I think it’s a question of *how many* people are involved. If, say, it’s just him and his three closest work buddies, nobody will care. If it’s him and every other male in the establishment, it looks a whole lot more like he’s deliberately excluding women.

      1. Felix*

        That is something that is throwing me. 9 of 17 employees are men and would be invited, but none manage or supervise each other? Is the management at this bank branch entirely women, and these 9 men are all junior employees?
        That is the only scenario where I think this is acceptable – where they are not only all men, but also of the same low rank (and no women of a similarly low rank are also excluded), but that seems unlikely.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I love how Alison words it so very delicately. Maybe a touch too delicately for someone who’s that clueless about how misogynistic they very obviously are.

        1. Beth*

          The letter is from 2018. Possibly, if the exact same letter were to be written today, she would be less gentle.

      3. Clisby*

        I agree. I retired from a company where 9-10 guys would go on a golfing long weekend once a year. But they weren’t all in the same department and were 9-10 guys out of about 1400 employees, so the vast majority of employees at the company weren’t included.

      4. kiki*

        Right! It’s normal to just invite your closest work friends to something. But if you’re inviting the whole company except one person, that’d look bad. Even if you genuinely aren’t close with that person, it would look exclusionary to do that. In the same vein, inviting all the men and no women on a trip seems like you are excluding a group intentionally.

      5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        This. The 9 men are invited, the 8 women are not. It’s extremely sus. And, like Alison said, if LW is genuinely friends with all of the men and none of the women, he should give some thought to why that is.

      6. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

        It doesn’t “look like” he’s excluding women. He is very intentionally, explicitly excluding women, because they are women.

    3. Fikly*

      I know your gender without reading your name.

      There’s a difference between a few coworkers getting together for a social thing outside of work, and every single member of a team of the same gender getting together, and deliberately excluding the other gender.

      And on top of that, the LW’s claim that it’s fine because no work is happening is utter bunk. There’s bonding and and socialization that has been shown over and over again to mean that when opportunities arise (and they happen between coworkers, not just between chains of supervision), they are preferentially given to those they feel more comfortable with. Not to mention when feedback from peers is used to evaluate performance, feedback is always better about people you have social bonds with.

      Men, by default, never consider this, because they’ve never had to. Women either don’t know why they aren’t getting the same opportunities, or do and both suffer the consequences, and then the gas lighting from men who say things like “I don’t see the problem.”

      1. Stitch*

        The other thing to note is while bone may supervise the other at the time, at some point after the boys club is established that may change.

        1. EPLawywer*

          No one may supervise anyone NOW. But if one of them is promoted, who are they going to favor? Their beach buddy or one of those dramatic women?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Exactly what I was thinking. And I’ll be shocked if this LW’s workplace has a proven record of promoting men and women equally.

            Everywhere I’ve worked, all other things being equal at starting time (job title, salary, responsibilities), men were routinely promoted within a couple of years – a guy had to be a really horrendous performer and to basically be on a PIP to not get promoted to management sooner rather than later. A woman on the other hand, had to either be an absolute star performer, or to work on a team with all women, or be hired from the outside directly into a management position to make management. Even for someone not interested in managing, like myself, it gets exhausting.

            These 9 men and 8 women are peers now. They won’t be in another couple of years. (Or, given that the letter is from 5 years ago, they were peers then but aren’t now.) and to your point, the new *male* managers are definitely going to favor their guy friends that they’ve been on guy outings with and so “just know they can trust them”.

            Another observation – the word “officially” is doing a lot of work in that last line of the letter: “no one officially answers to or manages the other”. Some of the guys might be in lead roles already, just not have the title yet.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Good point on “officially” doing a lot of heavy lifting there. Could easily mean there is an informal hierarchy or unofficial mentoring going on that benefits the men on the team.

      2. jasmine*

        I don’t know about the first sentence, I was honestly thinking the same thing as Rick and I’m a woman.

        I’d be more concerned if it was a re-occuring thing. But I wouldn’t think that much of a one time outing.

    4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I think there are unintended consequences of the all-male beach party. Since work is what the group of friends have in common, there will be informal brainstorming about company culture, solutions to problems, and talk about other colleagues. And there will be closer bonds of loyalty and solidarity between this group than between its members and other workers at the office. It’s not exclusionary in intent, but it will help the group of men have an advantage over the women.

      And I think that’s how sexism/the patriarchy works most of the time – just going along when things show up in our lives that seem to be fun and sensible, but would have the unintended consequence of deepening power differences. It’s easy to shrug off that unintended consequence when it’s not part of why you want to do the fun, common-sense thing, and when it won’t affect you… and so we keep having men with stronger ties to other men in the workplace, and deeper, broader, knowledge pools than the women (who are excluded from the “social” events).

      This is a tough one to internalise – I am a woman so I can see this bit of it, but I have to watch myself around forming all-white friendship groups at work, because again, unintended consequences.

      1. Stitch*

        It also just sets up this clear us vs them dynamic in the office (that may already be forming) that’s just so incredibly toxic.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Go read the comments from the original post. We explained in great detail why this trip is such a problem. It creates more issues than it solves.

          1. somanyquestions*

            Ugh, That was exactly the vibe I got from his “Am I overthinking this because of the office culture we live in today” dog whistle in his original letter.

            He starts out his comment with “Always refreshing to wake up to know at best I’m tone deaf or at worst a scumbag.” and from there declares himself and these other poor men christian martyrs to the feminist PC police. What a clueless, narcissistic, misogynistic person.

            Did that guy ever read this blog before he wrote in & then went off?

            1. Observer**

              Did that guy ever read this blog before he wrote in & then went off?

              Probably not. Alison was a lot gentler than a lot of the commenters, but no one reading this blog should have been surprised that she told him off, even if gently, and that the comments would roast him.

              And we’ve seen LOTS of letters from people who just clearly haven’t been reading, or haven’t been paying attention.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Ah, I see: “As far as inclusion, I know most of coworkers (including myself) to be of the Christian persuasion. All but one of my male colleagues are married while a majority of my female coworkers are unmarried.”

            Cue raises and promotions going to the Christian men who have to support their families and pay their tithes, vs those unmarried “female” airheads who’d spend their raises on something silly anyway. Just my guess at how things will proceed at that workplace.

            “Even if I had invited all coworkers and forced most to sleep on the floor, the respective spouses of those who are married would have, I’m sure, not been thrilled at such an arrangement.”

            You’ve all heard of the Mike Pence rule, no being 1:1 with a woman that’s not his wife; and how it negatively affects the women’s career advancement when a manager abides by this rule. Now meet this guy, who has out-Penced Pence with his “nope, we cannot invite our women colleagues to our work outing because our wives won’t be thrilled” (he says spouses, but I’ll bet my first paycheck of the year that they’re all married to women.)

            And of course he had to mention “political correctness” (because I’m guessing “wokeness run amok” wasn’t a trendy term in his circles in 2018).

            He sounds quite gross. Thanks for sharing the reply/update.

          3. Yoyoyo*

            I just don’t understand why people write in if they aren’t willing to consider the answer they get. I guess it’s that they assume they’re right and Alison will agree with them?

          4. Jessica*

            This dude is all “we should be allowed to exclude women because we’re Christian married men!”

            And I guarantee you elsewhere he’s all “It’s so unfair that people assume I’m sexist just because I’m Christian.”

            Getting vibes of the whole Mike Pence “I can’t be alone with female employees” thing.

            Cool, then find a job where you can work from home instead of hampering the careers of women in your office.

            If you need Boys Only social time at the beach, I dunno, maybe make male friends outside of work, my dude.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I’d tend to agree with Not Australian, though I would add something else as well. I think numbers are crucial here. Going out with two other friends from a team of 20…no big deal. Going out with 15 of a team of 20…that’s not good, even if no bosses or supervisors are included. That makes it seem like “we don’t like these five people.”

      In this case, it seems to be 9 out of 17, which is…at least bordering on the problematic side and the fact that it is all the men and none of the women is also problematic. This guy is friends with all the men he works with and none of the women. That in itself is indicative of sexism.

      I very much doubt there are female coworkers who go out with all their female coworkers and none of the men. If there are, that is likely problematic too, but…not normal. I have definitely been out with some coworkers and not all, but there are two or three differences from this. Firstly, everybody has been invited and secondly, it has never been gendered. Two women or two men going somewhere together is no big deal, but all the men? And the women don’t seem to be invited? That’s a problem. That’s a guy who is specifically seeking out work friendships with one gender only.

      The other issue I would add is are other people welcome to join in. I don’t think everybody necessarily has to be invited to everything, but…is there an opening for others to be included if they fit in with the gang? That does not seem to be the case here. It would be hard for one woman to get invited. When it’s “this group who shares this specific characteristic only and nobody else will ever be included,” well, that’s a clique, with all the problematic aspects that cliques have.

      In my mind, there is a big difference between “I’m going somewhere with this one coworker who happens to be the same gender as me” and “I’m inviting all the coworkers of my gender while not inviting any of the other gender and trying to keep it quite because ideally I don’t even want the other gender to know about it.”

      And then there’s his attitude. “I’m afraid they’ll start drama over not being invited.” That’s not a group of friends going somewhere and other people not being interested because they are not part of the group. That again is an attitude very much related to cliques, the type of cliques one normally finds in a middle school. “Oh, people create so much drama over not being part of our cool kids group.”

      And that’s even before you get into the problems of assuming drama from women.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And in his original reply he conflates “women be lunching!” with an entire, organized weekend of golfing. Like, dude. Women going to a one hour meal is not the equivalent of every single guy in your department having a two day long, work-friends-only get together. That’s like saying going to the McDonald’s drive-thru is the equivalent of shopping for a week’s groceries.

    7. Miss Fabulous*

      Work colleagues still talk about work, even if they’re away from the office. They talk about projects and people.

      1. Aerin*

        I have literally never hung out with work friends without talking about work. They were all service jobs so it was mostly war stories, but even then you would get a lot of “Oh, I had one of those, this is how I handled it” or “Oh, you should talk to Jane about that, she knows that system inside and out.” It’s not that you can’t share those kinds of tips with your buddies, but when that information is given to all the men and only the men, that’s the problem.

        And sure you might swear that you’re real friends, not just work friends, but… that’s honestly unlikely in my experience. You might have a lot in common that makes you compatible, but the job is the thing binding you together. Once you lose that, maintaining the friendship requires a specific effort. Three of my five bridesmaids were work friends with whom I was extremely close, but within a year or two of moving out of state I’d lost touch with them.

      2. Girasol*

        I remember the snorts of derision in staff meeting when we women talked about doing this task or working on that project, when all the men knew that the boss canceled those efforts last week. Thing is, they’d discussed those changes in an informal chat on the golf links during the all-boys game and never communicated them in the office. The effect was that the women always looked so out of touch and stupid that the men didn’t even want to talk to us, making matters worse. I daresay our frustration at this (and at the need to cover for them in the office on golfing day) leaked out, and we probably seemed emotional too.

    8. Totally Minnie*

      I’m sure there are female coworkers that go out with just themselves without any men.

      The problem with this comparison is that there’s not a century-long history of women in the workplace only befriending their female coworkers to the exclusion of the men, thereby creating an informal network of people who are more likely to get raises and promotions. But that exact history does exist for men.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And there is the way this was done. This wasn’t a case of two or three guys who were friends going out for a drink after work or a case where a work trip was organised and it just so happened that it was all the men who signed up for it (which could in itself indicate a problem but there are situations where it might not) or even a situation where the majority of the workplace was women and there were only 3 or 4 men and they were sort of forced together (which again might indicate other problems in the workplace). It was a case of a guy organising an event, specifically asking every man in his workplace and no women and asking for advice, not to find out if this might be harmful to the women in some way but to find out if the women were likely to “cause drama” and then went on to justify it in the comments by saying the men were Christian and their wives wouldn’t like it if single women went on a trip with them.

        If somebody wrote in and said “I’m organising a trip for all the women in my office. How do I stop the guys causing drama when they find out about it? We can’t invite them because we’re married and Christian,” I think that might raise eyebrows too.

      2. HotSauce*

        Additionally it’s not ALL of the women going out together and specifically excluding the men.

      3. Clairebones*

        Exactly! Plus as someone in tech, there are 2 women on my team, me included. “Female coworkers going out for lunch without men” means I went with one other person… the reverse would be 18 men going for lunch and not inviting the 2 women. Anyone who says that’s totally acceptable needs a real hard lesson in the history of discrimination and the workplace.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Ahhh, with this being a small office (bank branch, 17 people) I think the exclusionary nature of the proposed trip is a “no”. Not unless you first spearhead yearly/semi yearly “all inclusive” activities first. It’s one thing to have a department wide event that people can opt out if they want, it’s another to be exclusionary that’s obviously based on gender alone. That’s why there is outrage amongst some women that baby showers/wedding showers are now asking both genders. Those who realize that dividing events arbitrarily by sex are contributing to gender discrimination, and those outraged at inability to continue their gender exclusivity for no other reason than gender are also contributing to gender inequality. And it’s so pronounced, some career advisors tell women to take up golf specifically, because this is one sport that historically illustrates sexism at its’ finest.

    10. TG*

      Honestly this is the kind of attitude that continues issues where women are sidelined. I’m not saying it’s intentional on your part of malicious but even what seems innocuous can lead to women being considered outside of a group or not included and before you know it that’s the dynamic and it sucks.

  3. Professional Cat Lady*

    Looking back on the last 3 years, I really hope LW #3 went on her vacation in 2019. I’d hate to think she postponed it assuming she could always go next year.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Although I think Alison’s advice was right for the US at least. In Europe OP3 might have got away with it, if she said she’d already got the airline booked.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, especially in entry-level jobs. I’m in Finland, and we have employment contracts and the vast majority of workplaces are also a part of some collective agreement between employee and employer unions, and the collective agreement applies whether or not the individual employees are union members. So the amount of PTO and sick leave you get is mandated by the collective agreement, but once you’re past entry level, negotiating for time off before they’ve theoretically earned it, especially when they already have booked a trip, is absolutely something that people do. And because we don’t rely on employers for health insurance, people absolutely do negotiate for later start dates. Granted, this doesn’t usually happen for entry-level jobs, but mid-career ones certainly.

          1. cncx*

            I came here to say this- think in europe there would have been more success in moving out the start date two months than in the us, but a two month vacation is pretty exceptional for entry-level.

            The longest I have seen is six weeks and I believe the person was reachable or had a business trip sandwich on either end, and they had been with the company like ten years.

        2. Stitch*

          I hate to say it, but no matter where you live most people can’t afford to travel like that for 2 straight months.

          The only ways I’ve ever been able to live in/travel to an unusual location for more than a week or two is to get a work assignment there.

          LW might have been able to temp for a year but it’s very true most workplaces wouldn’t tolerate a 2 month voluntary absence.

          I have a coworker who did spend 6 weeks back abroad with his family, but he’d saved up leave, was an experienced employee (so no knowledge regression) and he prepared in advance so those of us covering for him didn’t have that much to do.

        3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yeah, sure, which is why I said “might have”.
          At the agency here in France we once hired a person from across the Atlantic, who told us she had tickets to go home for two months in the summer. The boss agreed to that, because she was clearly the best out of all the applicants, and he hired an intern to help out during the summer. The new hire wasn’t paid at all for those two months, because she hadn’t had time to build up any paid leave (the first year in work, you don’t get any leave, you’re only entitled to 2 days leave per month worked).

    2. the cat's ass*

      I hope she had great time, or at least got to go. One of the medical assistants at my clinic hired on and told us all expressly that she was taking 3 months off to travel; HR shrugged and said, “if there’s an opening here when you get back, we’ll rehire you.” There was and we did!

    3. Stitch*

      It’s hard but everyone has at least one friend who graduated, ended up taking a retail job and then just lond of got stuck there. For better or worse hiring patterns are a thing and employers hesitate to hire people who have been out of school and not working in the field. There are some additional details in the comments (LW is 30 so a bit older to be entering the field). LW also made some comments that were a little naive, like the idea of selling 2 month trip to Japan as a type of cultural exchange.

      Look, I’m all for travel, 100%, but you do have to be realistic that it could have an impact on the LW’s career and that dream job/field might be a lot harder to get into a year after graduation.

      It sucks. I want to be able to tell LW to just go for it and everything will be fine. But the harsh reality is it might not.

      1. MK*

        I am assuming that’s why most people take time to travel before or right after graduation, or else several years into their career. Graduating, working for less than a year and then taking months off just isn’t practical.

    4. EPLawywer*

      I know there is usually a link to an update, but I swear there was an update to this one or one remarkably similar where the trip wound up not happening because life and jobs.

  4. CLC*

    It’s funny how he says the women will cause drama. No dude, you are the one who would be causing the drama.

    1. chewingle*

      That was the point where I felt like he was being intentionally sexist and just wanted Alison to validate him (by either agreeing with him, in which case, “She’s a woman and she agrees with me!” or disagreeing with him, “See?? Women are so sensitive and melodramatic!”). He could have just as easily said he was afraid he would upset the women in his office (ie, the other *50% of his office*) rather than phrasing it as them “causing drama.”

      No winning with that one.

    2. bratschegirl*

      The level of drama and histrionics in his response on that original post was… fascinating.

  5. LG*

    Wow, LW4 is really overthinking this. How would your boss know it was your mother who answered the phone? It could be your roommate for all they know, and I’m sure they wouldn’t care either way. In addition, you could be living with your parents for other reasons, like they need health care or something. It would certainly be no reflection on your ability to do your job.

    1. Pennyworth*

      There are so many reasons someone might live with their parents, and none on them is any business of an employer.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Hopefully OP4 will not only take this to heart for herself, but also for any other person she might know who has to move back with their parents.

    3. birch*

      Nobody needs a reason to be living with anyone. This weird judgmental culture around family structures needs to move on and stop obsessing about how other people live their personal lives. There is no inherent value to any family structure or living situation above any other. Once we start justifying this kind of thing by saying a good enough reason would be if they were supporting their parents, it says that you are worth less if you are the one being supported.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I agree. There are so many reasons to live or not live with family members, including financial reasons, cultural reasons, health/disability reasons, divorce, escaping abuse, etc. I know back in the 90s when I was growing up the whole adults living with your parents thing was seen as something to joke about but I feel like the mainstream US culture has evolved away from that to a large degree, which is good. Clearly we still have work to do though.

      2. MK*

        The issue is the existence of a “dominant” culture that presents itself and is internalized as normal, and everything else is compared to it. Let’s say my ethnicity is X, I once watched a YouTube video made by X-Americans and X-Canadians, a.k.a. second and third generation immigrants from my country to North America, about whether the stereotypes about us were true or not. They kept using language that made it clear every evaluation was referring to the Anglo-Saxon “normal” and judgements made based on that. An especially obvious example was more body hair, to which they replied yes, we have more body hair; and I wondered, did they actually consider data the human species, or simply compared the average person of my ethnicity to the white northern European and American average?

        1. NeedRain47*

          It sounds like they weren’t measuring the objective reality of whether the stereotype is true or not, even if that’s what they said. They were measuring X-folks compared to the “ideal”, which in the US & Canada means a pale skinny person with zero body hair, more or less.

          1. MK*

            Yes, and I think it’s not that different with the stigma of living with your parents as an adult. In many cultures and countries it is completely normal, even aside from financial reasons. And in Northern Europe and America it is a relatively recent norm, I doubt people in the 1930s were moving out at 18; and even more recently, surely many working class people couldn’t afford to move out for some years. It’s possible that the ones who actually did were a minority.

    4. Artemesia*

      The obvious thing here is that the OP has a cell phone which is the only number the workplace has and thus Mom would never be answering it anyway.

      1. Skytext*

        The LW has been with her company for five years since she graduated, so she gave them her home number (very common for college students and recent grads to use their parents address and phone as their “permanent” info until they establish themselves on their own. HR has her cell phone, but apparently still had her parents info in the files as well, and that’s the number they gave her manager. It’s just coincidence that he called at a time she was living with her parents. If he had called prior to her moving back in he would’ve been told “she doesn’t live her anymore”.

    5. Elle by the sea*

      Also, living at home is no big deal. We live in a multicultural world and in many cultures, it’s completely normal to live with your parents until you are married or even if you are married. Or if your parents are old and you are the sole breadwinner. Or for whatever reason. It’s not anyone’s business.

    6. Ssssssssssssss*

      A few years ago, the legal branch of my company was interviewing for the annual articling student. And one of the lawyers didn’t like one of the candidates because her mom had driven to the interview and was waiting for mom to pick her up.

      I think there is a common perception that once you’ve established yourself – steady job, college is done, able to pay bills and have a credit card – you should be living on your own.

      And I think it’s time for that point of view to go. And I’ll be first in line to try to junk that POV from my head because I often felt that way myself.

      Now that I know how hard and invisible mental health issues are, how hard it is to find *good* jobs, and of late, how hard it is to find a GOOD place to live or for that matter, any place to live, all the cultural reasons why an adult child is still at home, and there are so so so SO many other reasons why you are still at home or have to return home, I no longer judge adults living with their parents.

      As my own children approach the age where they could move out at any time, I won’t rush them at all.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And honestly in some families, a parent moves in with their adult child. Downsizing, divorce *of parent and/or child), health, renting from the child instead of unrelated landlord so the child can buy a larger place than they could have afforded otherwise…

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Plus, as parents age, it may be safer for the parents to live with their kids rather than alone. Getting old is not for the faint of heart.

        I live with roommates, and in part it helps on the “Curmudgeon has a fever of 102 and pain on their right side. They need to go to ER, even though they are very out of it.” type of thing. (Yes, folks, acute appendicitis, and I wasn’t thinking well at all. My now spouse insisted I go to ER. It nearly burst.)

      2. Kelsi*

        This was what I was thinking. There are plenty of situations where a person lives with one or more of their parents not for their own benefit but to help out the parent(s). It may be because I’m in a workplace where the demographic skews older (mostly 30+ and with a significant percentage 40+) but my first association with someone’s mother answering the phone is not “kid moved back in with parents” but “parent(s) live with them for financial/health/child care/other family need reasons.” It’s very normal even in the US-centric, nuclear family household.

  6. Educator*

    #4 reads so differently today than it did in 2018! The pandemic really increased the social acceptability of multigenerational households in U.S. culture. Now many of my younger employees live with their families, and I never really thought about it until I reread this letter. What a nice shift!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m really hoping we’ll see this stigma go away over the next 5-10 years. It goes hand and hand with the pull yourself up by your bootstraps, monetize your hobby, all time should be economically productive mindset that is so incredibly damaging to people and society. With the housing market as bad as it is, it really needs to go.

      1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

        I’m now envisioning a strange scenario…

        – Old-school boss shames employee for living with her parents.
        – Employee refuses to feel ashamed.
        – Boss fires employee for insubordination (disobeying his “order” to feel ashamed).

        1. EPLawywer*

          Employee goes finds job with better culture, better benefits, better pay.

          Boss complains no one wants to work anymore.

  7. Dennis Feinstein*

    With the price of real estate in Australia (& I think in the USA?) nobody would bat an eye at a young adult living with their parents! Those who’ve moved out & then back again are even called the “boomerang generation”.
    In many societies, it’s also extremely common for several generations to live under one roof.
    No reasonable boss would give your living arrangements a second thought (unless it was affecting your work or you were in danger).
    Of course, this is AAM where many bosses are far from reasonable/sane. But if your boss has not demonstrated that he’s anything other than a rational human being, you needn’t worry

    1. Electric Sheep*

      Right before the end of year break a young coworker (who I managed when she was in my team) happily brought up to me that she was moving back in with her parents. I though a) what a sensible financial decision and b) it’s good that she has a chance to spend some more time with her family while she can.

      I certainly think perceptions have changed (at least in Australia where real estate is expensive!)

    2. yes I am bitter & broke*

      The COL in the US is, pardon my French, fucking stupid. You either have live with your parents or a bunch of roommates or be a damn millionaire to afford a roof over your head, let alone food.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        US COL issue in a nutshell: there isn’t enough affordable housing near where the jobs are, and there aren’t enough jobs near where the affordable housing is.

  8. Nat*

    As someone who is currently living with my parents at 35 for a variety of reasons (I moved back from the UK in a large amount of debt several years ago & am only just recovering financially, my mum is disabled & needs a carer, I am also disabled & sometimes need help if I’m having a bad day, renting in Sydney is the absolute pits, it allows me to have a part time job that doesn’t destroy me as much mentally & physically as a full time one did, etc etc), yes, people do tend to be like “oh! okay! that’s unusual!” but a lot of the time I get “god you’re so lucky, I wish I could do that”, & then usually we move on, I promise it is never as big a deal as you think it’s going to be.

  9. Dancing Elaine*

    OP worried about moving back with parents: Boss and HR literally don’t even THINK about it. No one cares.

    1. Chirpy*

      One of my jobs definitely cared when I lived with my parents. I do think it added to the “you’re just a kid, not a real adult” idea that everyone had about me, which eventually led to me being “the expendable one”. It was a small office, though.

      (And worse, I’d been living with my parents to save money until that job cut my position, so then I was really stuck there for years longer than intended, because I ended up with a really crappy low-paid job instead, and while I’ve since moved out, I now have no savings. )

      1. Miss Fabulous*

        Same. I overhead an ex-colleague make fun of me for doing so. I look out for my folks. One of my parents avoids technology so I help them with computer and TV related issues. I also help clean areas of their home, as they are getting older.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, it can be a win for both sides. Years ago one of my brothers moved back in with our parents right out of college. He was an engineer, so could have afforded rent, but he was engaged and wanted to buy his first house. My parents told him it was crazy to pay rent when he could live at home for a year or so and save for a down payment. He agreed, and since he was quite handy with things like home and car repairs, it helped them out too.

    2. Youth Librarian*

      Unless you’re my former crazy boss who spent a long time talking to me about her concerns about another staff member (who I did not supervise but was friends with) because when crazy boss called her home a “strange” woman answered and crazy boss therefore thought staff member might be a lesbian. It was staff member’s mom. I did not tell crazy boss this.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        WTF? It could be a roommate, FFS. Not everything is about sex. Sometimes it’s just about money.

  10. Nupalie*

    LW #1
    I’m going to be a bit of a devils advocate here. While I certainly think overnight get togethers are much more impactful and problematic…. I cannot count the number of times I’ve worked somewhere and every single female in the workplace has been invited to a Home Interiors/Party Lite/Tupperware/Mary Kay/Pampered Chef party
    …and none of the males were. Not to mention baby showers, “girls night out”, and naughty underwear parties. We women need to reflect on some of these gender- segregated “bonding opportunities” also. As others have commented, lack of malicious intent doesn’t make exclusion OK. (PS – I hate these kinds of events but always feel I have to go because there will be social/career repercussions if I don’t.)

    1. Bébé chat*

      Well, were I work everyone participates if there is a baby shower, and we do afterworks with all colleagues and not “girls nights out”.
      Are all the things you listed MLM ? I’m not from the US so I don’t know most of them. MLM prey on women a lot so I would not be surprised if they were.
      But I still don’t get your point though, historically men have been excluding women from a lot of work opportunities through out of work activities, pretending women do the same with Mary Kay parties is forgetting to look at the impact these activities have on equity in the workplace.
      Plus, the letter is full of condescending misogyny, so I don’t see why anyone would want to defend the LW way of thinking.

      1. I need a new name...*

        They are all MLMs, yes. So I’m not really sure they’re helpful to Nupalie’s argument as they are predatory schemes that primarily target women. They’re also just sales pitches for entirely different businesses and I can’t imagine they’re often that fun.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      That’s funny because I have never ever been in a workplace where there are events just for women.

      And even if there are events just for women, unless all the managers are women, the power dynamics are so very different when it’s women than when it’s men.
      Alison explains it pretty well, I suggest you go back to read her answer again.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        In fact since 2004 I have worked in a female-dominated industry, like I have never had more than 2 male coworkers at any given time in my direct departments, and I have never been to any of those type gatherings at or through work, women only or otherwise.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        I used to be a librarian, and even in a profession that’s 80% women I can’t think of a time when I was invited to something that all the women and none of the men were invited to. This includes wedding showers, baby showers, and Carol’s grifty candle selling party. The guys were always invited along with the rest of us.

      3. UKDancer*

        I’ve worked in places with a women’s network but the events are professional and not so much social. It’s more lectures on running meetings and how to network.

        I’ve never worked anywhere with social events for women or men separately. If there’s a birthday sometimes people go to the pub but that tends to be fairly mixed. We don’t do baby showers anywhere I’ve worked and anything like a celebratory cake in the office was for anyone who was there.

      4. TechWorker*

        I work in a male dominated industry/company, our more recent grad intake is ~25% women but our site as a whole is more like 85-90% men. We do occasionally (once every 6 months ish?) have ‘womens drinks’ – which are mostly social and really started when there were even fewer women as a way for us to bond. We have have a women’s chat room. Somehow this feels fine to me as we’re still heavily in the minority, but perhaps some feel it’s exclusionary.

        (For the drinks, there have been times when male colleagues have been keen to socialise on the same day and ended up joining us – which is totally fine – but I’m not sure how I would react if someone was offended by it and wanted to join every one to make a point. All of the company wide ‘women’s’ events are deliberately ‘allies welcome’ (and honestly sometimes so twee I think they’re not helping anyone :)).

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Good lord, that’s right out of 1950s women’s social activities. Do you time travel to get to work? I don’t know of anyone in the places I worked who did things like that since maybe the mid-1970s. Baby showers for co-workers were usually a group gift, cookies or cupcakes at work, and it wasn’t just women attending. I think I remember one off-site baby shower but it was for someone who had very special circumstances. We did have parties at someone’s house or a bar when anyone quit or retired – or got fired.

      1. Violet Fox*

        At least where I work, our leaving parties, baby things etc, are at most sandwiches and cake or just cake at work.

        My work is also really good about making sure there is food everyone can eat.

      2. Stitch*

        I’ve never been to a female only baby shower, thank goodness. That attitude appears to be shifting at least in some groups. Viewing babies as a female only thing is so gross.

        MLMs and naughty underwear parties should be nowhere near work, in my opinion.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          When to one or two at my previous job, where most of the women were invited. Not the best experience, but part of that was due to the fact that I didn’t talk much to the other women. (Locked lab for me as a chemist, and the others were in customer service and/or accounting and I didn’t know them.)

      3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        …time travel to get to work… LOL. Truth: The last time I even heard of a tupperware party or Mary Kay party, it was, in fact, the early 1980s. I’m a little surprised they still exist and googled it to confirm – goodness, Mary Kay still giving away the pink cadillacs! :)

    4. Never Knew I was a Dancer*

      >>> PS – I hate these kinds of events but always feel I have to go because there will be **social/career repercussions** if I don’t.

      You’d be worried that by not going you’d be put at a disadvantage at work. Precisely. You named the heart of the problem with LW1’s plan’s right there in your last sentence.

    5. Rainbow*

      I work in a field of science where there aren’t a lot of women, and in my first job we had some women’s get togethers after work.
      I felt uncomfortable at first, but to be honest that was just my own issues with my own gender, given the amount of BS guys in my field had created for me in the past. Given that women were seen as “different”, I now think these outings were actually quite healthy. I do think that was specifically because we were an underrepresented group and benefitted from making connections. Like, at my second job we had an LGBTQ+ Christmas party and LGBTQ+ lunches – though allies were welcome too I suppose.

    6. Asenath*

      I have never worked anywhere that everyone in a workplace was invited to one of those Mary Kay etc parties. I’ve been to a few – but always invited by someone I knew outside of work. I don’t know how universal that sort of thing is. My last job was overwhelmingly populated by women at my level, to the extent that for years there was only one man who was a co-worker (some others in management levels who weren’t involved is socializing except for bigger things like retirements for long-time workers), and he certainly got invited to the only social event we organized outside the office – which was a Christmas lunch. I’m not sure your (Nuplaie’s) experiences are universal.

    7. What*

      Did all of your work experience occur in the 80s? Naughty underwear parked? Wtf. I’ve worked in women dominated offices and have never experienced any of this ridiculousness so no need to play the devil’s advocate.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Having a good chuckle at the image that conjured in my head of a bunch of 1980s professional women showing up to a naughty underwear party in their boxy shoulder padded blazers, all looking confused and uncomfortable.

    8. bitter & broke*

      “I’m going to be bit of a Devil’s Advocate” = “I’m going to spew a bunch of outdated nonsense”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        It’s an admitted bias of mine but ‘I’m going to play devil’s advocate’ outside of a formal debate means ‘I’m going to give my opinion but I don’t want to be held accountable for it’

        1. whingedrinking*

          The poor phrase has been abused to the point where it’d just be kinder to take it out back and shoot it. It’s a shame, because it’s much pithier than “I would like to bring up a legitimate criticism in the spirit of discussing the strengths and weaknesses of a proposal”.

    9. doreen*

      I don’t think you are time traveling, but I do think you have a very particular sort of workplace and it probably consists of/includes a small office staff that is mostly female. For example, a professional office where the professional (doctor, dentist, vet) is male and the rest of the staff is female which means it’s not just a male-female thing , it’s also “invite your coworkers and not the boss” which is fine and would still be fine if the boss was female and the employees were male- but that doesn’t happen nearly as often.

      I think you must work in a particular type of workplace because although I’ve been invited to women-only MLM parties and baby showers , even occasionally by people I worked with it’s never been “all fifteen women in the office are invited to this after-work Pampered Chef party, but none of the twelve men are.”

    10. chewingle*

      “We women need to reflect.”
      Honestly, this is so specific that it doesn’t feel like a “we” problem to me.

    11. EA and then some*

      While I do agree that there’s a lot of problems with those types of “parties” I think in this instance the history is inescapable. We still have a gender wage gap in the US. Since the beginning of this country men have gotten together and made decisions for everyone. This is just a bad look at best.

    12. turquoisecow*

      1. The devil doesn’t need advocates. Just say it’s your opinion and own it.

      2. There’s a HUGE difference between the majority/in power group (men, white people, probably Christians) excluding the not in power/minority group (women, BIPOC, people of other religions, LGBTQ+) and the minority group excluding the majority group. If you can’t see that then I don’t know what to tell you.

      3. Women having “girls night out” is different from men having a golfing trip when the participants are all coworkers. Once you bring work into the mix, it becomes about power dynamics and exclusivity whether you want it to or not. Especially when it’s *half the office.* This is not LW going out with a handful of buddies from work, this is him inviting *half the office* and not the other half *because they look like him.* Even if NONE of the men in the group have power over any of the women at the office, they’ve still made a coalition and a bonding experience and excluded all the women. That is NOT okay.

      1. Observer**

        There’s a HUGE difference between the majority/in power group (men, white people, probably Christians) excluding the not in power/minority group (women,

        Not “probably”. The OP chimed in and explained that they are all Christian, the men are all married and the women all single. And therefore, the wives of all these good Christian men would not approve of an outing with the women.

    13. Ssssssssssssss*

      Two jobs ago, the Tupperware person in the office was a guy and he was so proud of it, too.

      I’ve been invited to a Pampered Chef party and two other similar MLMs and yes, all women but none of them were coworkers, we were all neighbours.

      I can’t think of an MLM party invitation from a coworker in the last 30 years. I was invited to join one though!

    14. A CAD Monkey*

      i’m someone who worked in an office where the owner would take all the women of the office and invite all of our female clients to an all day chartered trip while the men in the office had to work. it didn’t matter if you were female and didn’t want to go, you had to go. when a guy complained, the response was along the lines of “(Male Boss) should do something then, i don’t care”
      the one gender trips/activities just need to go away imo

    15. Bast*

      This may be just my experience, but I think a huge difference is that ALL of the men were invited and none of the women. Not just “the men in accounting” or “the three buddies I like to go drinking with.” I have worked in an environment where some women threw MLM parties (Athena and Lu La Roe, mostly), and it tended to be just their department that was invited. Sometimes it happened to be all women because some departments were entirely made up of women — the company was about 90% women, except for the higher management levels- but one sex was never explicitly excluded. It was more like, “Well, Nicole only invited everyone in accounting,” and in a company of around 100 people, that might only be 10-ish people. If Nicole had purposefully excluded men in accounting (there were none, but for argument’s sake) or invited everyone but sales because sales was mostly men, it would be a similar scenario to what OP posted, but from what I’ve seen these events tended to segregate by department, not by sex/race/religion/etc. Certain departments also went out to drinks together, had potlucks and birthday parties, etc that other departments were not privy to.

    16. Observer**

      I’m going to be a bit of a devils advocate here

      The devil needs no advocates, thank you very much.

      I’m not going to rehash everything that’s problematic with what you have written. But it’s worth noting that when you have to preface your comments with “devil’s advocate” it’s pretty much saying that you know that what you are about to say is an actual problem.

    17. Critical Rolls*

      Echoing other commenters who have *never* encountered anything like this, even in very female-dominated industries. Also, freaking WHAT to the idea of work-adjacent “naughty underwear parties.”

      But more pertinently, what you’re describing doesn’t justify, balance, or offset the LW gathering *all* his male coworkers and excluding *all* the women for a multi-day beach trip. This is exactly, exactly how women are often shut out from the relationships and insider knowledge that lead to success in the workplace. You’re presenting a red herring, not a counter argument.

    18. Jessica*

      This sure reads like those people who are like “If there can be women-only networking events and mentorship, there should be men-only networking events!”

      The entire reason these things exist is because the entire business world was a men-only networking event for most of modernity.

  11. Bilateralrope*

    For #4, the question is: Why did your work call an outdated number ?

    Ignore the issue of you living at home unless they bring it up. They probably haven’t thought of it beyond: We called a landline. Someone who wasn’t LW answered. They passed the call to LW

    The oddity here is that they called a landline instead of a cellphone, when the cellphone is far more likely to get you. That didn’t cause problems this time, but could easily in the future. For example, if the landline gets disconnected because it’s no longer worth the price. You need to at least ask why, maybe update the old information.

    1. alienor*

      Yeah, unless the LW’s mom literally said “No, this is LW’s mother…LW, sweetie, someone’s on the phone for you” it’s unlikely the employer had any idea who they were talking to.

  12. Irish Teacher*

    LW4, living with your parents does not mean you don’t have your life together. It may feel that way to you, but there are all kinds of reasons why people live with parents – convenience (family home is near the workplace), financial reasons, close relationship where they would prefer live with family than alone or with people they aren’t as close to, parents needing support (I have a colleague significantly older than 26 who was planning to move out and said he would have done so a number of years previously but one of his parents got ill and he wanted to support his other parent in caring for them) and so on and so forth.

    Are there people who would think somebody hasn’t their life together because they live with their parents? Possibly, but it doesn’t sound like you have any reason to assume your manager is one of these and honestly, people have all kinds of prejudices. There was a letter from somebody who assumed employees who went to an all-women’s college weren’t as robust and ready for the workplace as people who went to co-ed colleges, so…you never know what will make people think you aren’t a good prospect for promotion. People have all kinds of prejudices, but so long as your work is good, then it would be odd for somebody to work on the premise that “this person is great at their job, but they live with their parents and it’s possible a crisis in their personal life could have led to that, so maybe they are prone to crises and shoulnd’t be promoted.” That…would be quite a jump and while I have no doubt there are people who would make it, I suspect they are a small minority.

    Most people are more worried about themselves anyway.

    1. 653-CXK*


      My brothers lived at home until they got married and moved away from home; I stayed behind because they live ~ 20-50 miles away, and where my father passed away in 2005 (lung cancer) and my mother has had hip, shoulder and knee replacements, I would rather be seconds away from her side in case something happens rather than hundreds of miles away.

      That was the same case with my grandparents. My parents bought the house next door to them after my grandfather had health issues; it made less sense to stay there after my brothers moved out and my grandmother passed away in 2008. Also, the upkeep of the house and the decline in our neighborhood was beginning to wear down on us, so my mother and I moved to another neighborhood a few miles away (it’ll be 11 years ago on Friday). We have not regretted it since.

  13. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I would suggest before commenting on OP1 that people go read the original post comments. The letter writer came in with some utterly hair raising stuff (like mentioning the men were all married and inviting unmarried women would be ‘not appropriate’).

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Because they were “of the Christian persuasion.” Which is not only disingenuous, it implies that A) Christian spouses are automatically going to assume that any women “their men” come into contact with in a social situation are going to try to hit on them and B) ONLY Christian spouses would have any such concerns.

      Not a good look from any angle.

      1. Observer**

        Oh, and also the men were all married, but the women were all single, so OF COURSE that’s going to be a problem. Apparently, the idea was the men would OF COURSE not be able to withstand any approaches from the women, and since the women are single OF COURSE they are going to try to seduce the men.

        And, in thinking about it, it really is interesting that all the men are married, but none of the women…

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I mean if they were worried about having unmarried women around they could have brought their spouses too. But apparently they wanted a macho bonding experience without and “women’s drama”, either from their wives or coworkers. Such an ugly, 1950s sexist look.

  14. Kathryn*

    Introversion means you recharge with alone time.

    That really has nothing at all to do with thinking on your feet at work.

    I get the sense that this LW is framing this as an introvert vs extrovert issue with themselves as the put upon group and that really makes no sense.

    If you want more time to reflect on issues before you answer, that is a perfectly legitimate request, but it doesn’t have a single thing to do with being an introvert.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      True. I’m extremely introverted and need a lot of alone time but you’d never get that impression from me at work because I can talk to anybody. I do have issues with understanding people but I’ve just learnt to mask it.

      Now, requiring time to think? I can understand that. It’s a rare person in my line of work (IT) who can give an immediate correct answer without a little bit of consideration. I honestly don’t mind an interview candidate saying ‘can I have a little time to think about that one?’ to a question.

      Now if it’s all the questions that’s different.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I get the impression that a lot of people think that introverts are not good at thinking on their feet. In Susan McCain’s “Quiet” she very obviously needed to prepare a lot for meetings and the such like. I was a bit nonplussed because I’m very clearly an introvert yet I’ve often winged stuff.
      It may be that since introverts are naturally drawn to roles where you produce work on your own, only occasionally interacting with colleagues, you don’t have to think on your feet very much. Thinking on your feet is maybe more of a thing in customer-facing roles, which introverts tend to shy away from.
      Like, I’m a translator. The vast majority of translators are introverts. If we get stuck on a term, we put it to one side and think about it later. Extroverts with the same linguistic talent are more likely to become an interpreter, where you’re literally not just thinking but translating on your feet.

      And while it seems to be the hallowed truth nowadays that introversion is all about “needing alone time to recharge”, there are quite a few other characteristics that a lot of (not all) introverts share, such as being pretty quiet, avoiding spontaneous interaction with others and working alone.
      An extrovert who needs time to give a proper answer would probably not need to write in to Alison, because they wouldn’t have a problem with breezily saying something “I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, but I’ll check with Rosie and Jim and get back to you by Monday”. The introvert who’s also shy, as are a lot of introverts, doesn’t feel as comfortable saying that when the expectation is clearly that they should already know, hence OP writing in.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*


      It’s great that more people are aware of different personality traits…but too often we oversimplify. And the introversion-extroversion trait in particular has been overextended in popular culture.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      Agreed. I’m as introverted as can be, but I’m actually fine thinking on my feet. I kind of enjoy it, even. Are my answers better after some consideration? Sure, often they are, but that should be true of almost anybody with a brain (except for those people who tend to talk themselves into absurd ideas).

      I also have no problem saying “off the top of my head, I want to say X, but I’d have to check to be sure.”

  15. Hiring Mgr*

    Don’t worry OP4, nobody really has their life together regardless of where they live – we’re all just winging it :)

  16. WellRed*

    I hope no. 3 took the vacation and then started a job in her field afterward, especially considering what’s happened the past few years. I’d love an update.

  17. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    The attitude in #1 was offputting, but I’m on the fence about the “guy’s weekend” thing.

    IF this is a group of male coworkers of similar levels (no bosses or managers) and friends I don’t see as much issue with it because female coworkers often do the same. But the dynamics change if any of the management is invited. If you want that to be the case, I’d suggest a beach or golf outing where it’s mixed employees.

    1. HoundMom*

      Funny — you sound an awful lot like “Rick” above?

      This trip is not just about “today” corporate structure but about opportunities for future endeavors. Or partnerships on the same level projects that are high profile.

      Generally people are going to include “those like me”. That automatically excludes someone not of your gender, perhaps marital status or race.

      There is no place for this in the workforce as it it a way of providing an excuse to remain exclusionary.

    2. Jackalope*

      The problem is that just because none of the other men are management now doesn’t mean they won’t become management in the future. And already having that closer relationship will still put the other men at an advantage.

    3. D'Arcy*

      Did you see the comment in the original thread where he doubled down on it? His motivations are *explicitly* sexist and misogynistic.

    4. Roland*

      It’s not “a group”. It’s literally 9 out of 17 and it’s every man and 0 women. Alison addressed this in her response.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      It’s more the fact that it’s all the men in the workplace and none of the women and the numbers are about 50/50. 3 or 4 guys from a workplace of 20 people going on a guys’ weekend…no problem at all. Same with women. But when more than half the company are going and they are explicitly saying they aren’t going to talk too much about it so those who aren’t invited don’t “cause drama,” well, honestly that reminds me of a middle school clique.

      I can’t imagine asking all the women I work with to an event and none of the men (my workplace is also about 50/50).

  18. Turingtested*

    LW #1, I think this is a situation to be cautious about.

    My office used to have a big camping trip that was exclusive but based on cool kids vs nerds rather than gender. It caused a lot of friction and gossip. Frankly the trips sounded like an absolute shit show (bad acid trips; cheating; getting lost in a 5 acre wood perhaps due to intoxication) but it still hurt to be excluded. I feel a little silly admitting it but it’s true.

    It’s one thing if it’s a small group of 2-4 people. Obviously people are allowed to have friendships at work. But if more people than that are invited it starts to feel divisive.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      These situations can quickly go from

      Whatev! Don’t Care (couple of male work friends going on a fishing trip) to WTF! (the whole office went on a men only epic beach/golf weekend) and it’s discriminatory.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yep. We had the same dynamic at my company. A group of women were the ringleaders of a clique. I was on the periphery (I got I invited to some stuff, but not everything), and while I didn’t really let it get to me because there were some members of the group who weren’t my cup of tea, I know it was hurtful to others. It definitely had a “you’re either in with the cool girls or out” vibe, and it was in fact not cool. The culture got healthier when the last of them left.

      1. Turingtested*

        Very similar situation. I was explicitly told I wasn’t invited and that’s what was hurtful and I’m pretty sure it was meant to be. It was unlike anything I’ve encountered even working in restaurants where there were plenty of cliques and gossip.

  19. Anony56774*

    4. I’m embarrassed that my boss found out I’m living with my parents

    You can make up some other excuse that sounds temporary like “mom lives out of town and was visiting for a few days.” I wouldn’t think twice about it. Afterwards, make sure your boss and coworkers know the right number to always reach you at.

    1. bitter & broke*

      Just tell your boss the truth: they don’t pay you enough to be able to afford to live on your own

  20. Aerin*

    I rather hope that LW3 didn’t reach the “compromise” of taking the trip but working remotely. I have done those kinds of working vacations, and while I have enjoyed them, it’s not the same experience. The time I went specifically just to get out of the damn city, it didn’t feel like a vacation at all, I just had better options for hanging out after work. And the time there was one day in the week I couldn’t get PTO so I brought my work stuff with me and worked that day, it made it much harder to disconnect. They were still fun overall! Just not something I’d want to have on a “once in a lifetime” kind of vacation.

  21. Uncle Boner*

    Living at home:

    A different way to think of it (perhaps)…it shifts the work power dynamic. When your boss knows you’re living at home, it also tells your boss that you’re NOT slave-to-debt. Savings = flexibility. Piss me off, I can quit on a dime. I’m not stuck fake laughing at your stupid jokes because I need the paycheck.

    Embrace it. Financial security is strength.

  22. KM*

    LW #2 – I am the exact same way. I’ve talked to my manager about it. And she is very supportive and does her best to accommodate me needing time to process information. For example, she tries to send me any questions/discussion topics for our 1:1s at least 24 hours ahead of time.

    Part of it, for me, is also people just understanding that I may come back with different thoughts later. So in a conversation, I may say, “my initial thought it…but I need to think about it more.”

    As my company is remote, a lot of our conversations also happen over chat. This helps a lot because I can delay responding for a few minutes, and think about it. Or can just respond with “I need to think about this”, and then can respond later.

    1. L'étrangère*

      Also #2 you’re attributing the pressure to make instant decisions to extroversion. That’s a separate issue I think. I’d attribute it more to inability to think things through. Or maybe to making decisions, and then later pretending to let other people have input about it. Either way, that has not a whole lot to do with intro/extroversion. And if it might be the latter version, do you have any evidence of boss ever changing her mind in these on the spot discussions? If not, you can relax in the secure feeling that nothing that you’d say matters anyway.

  23. Threenager mom*

    OP 4 – you could always try “ my parents live with me” & suddenly you are perceived as a caretaker & not an adult who lives at home.

  24. GreyjoyGardens*

    Re LW 4 living at home: I think that living with parents is so common nowadays what with cost of living, and increasing cultural diversity (in the US, where I live, there are more workers who come from cultures where inter-generational households are the norm, or else people live at home until they are married).

    The only thing that *would* count against a worker living with parents is if those parents were the horrible helicopter kind. I recall one LW writing in that her cousin had those kind of embarrassing helicopter parents who actually interfered in cousin’s work, and hoped she wouldn’t get a bad reputation having the same last name as him. *Helicopter* parents who bring themselves to work with you (literally or just on the phone/email/etc.) are not good and can ruin one’s work reputation – the Momma’s Boy or Dutiful Daughter is not something you want as your image.

    But if you are just living with ordinary parents who treat you as an adult, LW, you are golden. And probably in very good company!

  25. Shanderson*

    If the LW/OP is out there, I would be very interested to hear if this letter or comment thread provided a gap in perspective or prompted any looking inward. I really hope this provided a reality check, because the inability to see how that perspective genuinely impacts the careers and livelihoods of women all around you is the canary in the coal mine.

    1. Observer**

      I would be very surprised. Given the reaction in the original discussion, he was extremely resistant (to be kind) to hearing what people were trying to tell him.

  26. DJ*

    LW taking the 2-month vacation. I think it’s worth applying for jobs but mentioning this either at the application/letter writing or interview part. Also outline a plan for coverage whilst you’re away e.g. ensure work done ahead, preparation etc. You can frame it as you did in the letter hadn’t been able to travel extensively due to studies and work commitments and using the chance now, been planning it for a while, deposits paid etc.

  27. Summer*

    Beach Bro still sucks. I just went and read his comment from the original letter and I just can’t even with that guy. Hiding behind his “Christian persuasion” wording and talking about how almost all of the men are married while all the women are unmarried and the spouses would just be up in arms over a mixed gender trip…ugh. Maybe because I, as a female, have always – since childhood – been friends with males that it seems so odd to me. Then again, a guy I was friends with at my last job told me I was the first woman he was ever friends with…and that was a decade ago. So they exist and I realize that.

    My husband has gone away for a weekend of camping and canoeing with his coworkers – and they are all women! And I trust him and them! I wouldn’t be married to him if I didn’t trust him. So it is just absolute BS that men and women can’t be friends and can’t travel together.

    I really hope LW has grown and learned some things in the time since that letter was published, but I’m not holding my breath.

  28. Comrade*

    To the living at home, I’m a 36 manager myself who spent at least 12+ months of the lockdown with their parents. This is not the first time since I moved out either. At least one of my employees has lived with their parents for a stretch and a huge chunk of my coworkers throughout my career have as well. Zero to worry about unless you have a clueless supervisor.

  29. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP1: *Sigh* Even years later, I remember this letter clearly. I think it stuck with me because it was such a perfect example of the boys’ club mentality that persists, and why women must still deal with sexism at work.

  30. Veryanon*

    “Am I overthinking this because of the office culture we live in today” = damn women always wanting to be treated with respect and not excluded. It’s highly unlikely that LW just *happens* to only be friendly with the other men in the office. If LW wants a dudebro beach weekend, he should invite his non-work friends.

    1. Francie Foxglove*

      Oh lord. High school, not work, but I once said to a classmate, “How about some respect?” With his eyes riveted on my chest, he said, “I’d like to respect every part of you.” Yes, I told the teacher. But because it was the 80s, his reply was, “Oh, you’ll probably marry him some day.” Head explosion.

  31. NicoleT*

    #1. Yeah that’s problematic. Also why my mom insisted my sister and I both learned how to golf …and we still do… and both play in our work leagues! She’s an engineer, and I work in academic/science publishing, which are male-dominated fields. She’s been able to make a lot of personal connections, as have I – even if it isn’t deal making it at least builds your confidence and comfort level with coworkers that can both carry over to the office.

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