I was the only woman on a team at a large software company. When I joined the team, I was the least experienced and so I had no problem doing the more basic work. However, I was surprised when two years later I was still being given the simple and boring assignments. The team had grown and I was now near the middle in terms of education and seniority.
Durring my performance review, I asked my boss what I could do to improve so that I could earn more interesting work. He explained to me that I was being held back by my agressive atitude. I spoke up at meetings, defended my opinions, and occasionally contradicted others when they were wrong. I was confused because I didn’t feel my behavior was different from my team mates. He explained that this behavior was welcome from some types of people, but I should learn to be soft spoken. There aren’t many women in my field so I have to be especially careful not to antagonize men who are not used to female coworkers. I immediately began the process to transfer to another team. I am still struck by the fact that he honestly appeared to believe this lecture was both appropriate and helpful.