I got back home from work the other day to find both my kids running a fever AGAIN!! We had visited the hospital three days prior, when my older kid started running a temperature. The doctor diagnosed a virus, prescribed medication to manage the fever and advised me to monitor him closely while the virus ran its course. Getting home to both kids running a temperature after dealing with three sleepless nights was a little too much for me, so I decided to head back to the hospital.

I got to the hospital and requested to see the doctor. Being a company hospital, the ID number of the company staff is required to track the medical records of the staff and all dependants registered under the staff i.e. spouse and kids. The nurse at the front desk then asked for my husband’s staff ID number, which would have been okay, if my husband’s staff ID number would generate any results in her records. Rather than send her on a wild goose chase, I chose to answer the unasked question by providing MY staff ID number. She then asked for my husband’s first name, I responded with my first name. Nurse X repeated her question and I followed in same fashion and repeated my first name. She responded by informing me that she requested for my husband’s first name and not mine. At that point I politely asked her why she needed my husband’s first name considering I was the one present, to which she calmly tried to explain to me that in addition to the ID number, the staff’s first name may be required to retrieve dependants’ records, hence providing my first name was not going to be of any help. In the calmest voice I could muster, I informed her that I was aware of what she needed and why, and that was the reason for giving her the information she needed as against the information requested. For some reason Nurse X still did not get it because she finally asked me if I was the staff or the spouse, she would have saved both of us some time if she’d asked that question at the beginning of our conversation.

Initially I thought I was able to maintain my cool during that encounter because of my sleep deprived state but I realize now that was not the case. I think I have gotten so accustomed to people making such ignorant assumptions that I am now just amused by the level of ignorance of such people. The gender stereotype that women belong at home with the children and staff ID numbers are solely reserved for men is especially very sad when coming from people that should know better; women in the workplace. How do we get men to do better if women in the workplace also see boobs and think kitchen? If we are going to overcome sexism and misogyny, we need to start with the lady in the mirror, WE need to do better!

What ignorant assumptions have you had to deal with as a working mum and how did you handle them? Please share your stories, I am sure we can all learn a thing or two.

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