Skip to main content

I muttered the two words softly. Two of my female coworkers were bickering lightly. Nothing serious, but the pacifist in me believed that the day would be a little brighter if people could stop arguing.

And then, out of left field, a third co-worker:

“I actually really dislike it when someone tells me to calm down. Especially from a man to a woman. Like, do you really think that’s going to make me calm down?”

I think that she was right to call me out on my choice of words. In fact, I respect it. A lot.

As a male, how do I navigate a workplace in which my colleagues are predominantly female? As a male, how do I come to terms with my privilege, given that, on average, males make more money than females and occupy higher positions of power? In a society that continues to be male-dominated, how are my choice of words influenced by implicit biases? How do I deescalate arguments? Is my desire for peace unreasonable?