I recently found myself in a situation where an individual went off on me about her "perceived" role of what I should or should not be doing at an event. It was very interesting. First, I am the CEO of 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com), and this was a professional event. What this person got her knickers twisted over was interesting and inappropriate, but none the less she went off anyway. One of her major complaints involved why I was not processing payments and lifting books in boxes. I got to thinking about this complaint and realized there was a greater misunderstand and even a cultural issue about expectations about women.
I will start with this basic question to address the complaint: Have you ever seen a CEO at an event lifting boxes and processing orders? The CEO is the company figure head. I was there to meet and greet and represent the product. I hire people to lift boxes (because frankly I have a disability and cannot do it anyway), but the expectation that the company figure head should be on the floor doing the detailed work, which even in the office I don't do (I have an operations manager and she's awesome). Then it hit me! She saw this as women's work. Had I been a man, I seriously doubt she would have complained at all nor would she have expected I do the labor. I'm absolutely certain of this assertion. It was because I was a woman. A male CEO would have automatically carried greater respect (you can disagree but it's still a man's world).
Part of the problem is we still don't have a lot of female CEOs and business owners. The numbers have grown, but still we're behind, especially CEOs of major Fortune 100 companies. No CEO standing at a party in a business suit would have heard the complaint I heard. I have never been one to dwell on my gender as a hindrance, and I won't even today. Hard work and mental outlook and attitude always prevail over petty prejudice. But in evaluating that situation and wondering why someone would have made up such an unreasonable expectation of the company CEO, it realized why (well, at least partially why ... some people can have the perfect experience and still rain on the parade).