How do I find a ‘working woman’? (I know it sounds a little silly and gender normative, but you know what I mean.) This is my first job. My friends outside of work have a best friend in the ‘office’ to share jokes, gossip and complaints with. I’m friendly with most of my colleagues, and there are a few I talk to about skin care and bad TV, but there’s no one close to a confidant. I feel left out.
–Cristin, New York
First about terminology: we recycle the phrase ‘workwoman’, Cristin. It is only gender normative if you use it exclusively to describe women or stereotypical female behavior. ‘Workmate’ doesn’t sound so good in the meantime and suggests that the relationship depends on the gender of a person, who does not! (Although I did not always have a working woman, these days I did two; one is a man and one a woman.)
OK then. While the academic research about the value of work, friends find both risks and benefits, in my experience, the fact that a working woman has always made my professional life orders more enjoyable. But the unfortunate truth about getting one is that you do have to work for one. We do not like dating analogies here (see above), but you may need to put a tone in the water before you find the right pond. However, it is not as scary as it sounds. All you have to do is have friendly conversations with a handful of people and see where things lead. Even better, you have an edge – start with the people you talk to about skin care and bad TV, and then see if the back-and-forth flows.
Lately, I have been admiring the relationship between woman and woman in the early career. That’s why I asked them for tips specifically for young people who are cool – a descriptor I can not identify with. Senior producer Pia Ceres and co-editor Ricki Harris live across the country from each other, but they often work together on WIRED projects. It did not take them long to suspect that they had more in common. Then, one day, Ricki suggested a one-on-one call. Things clicked, Pia says, when they both thought, “Wait, so I’m not the only one who really improvised the first few years of my career in a notoriously uncertain industry?”
Realizing your common interests and struggles is an important part of work-woman relationships. However, a real and long lasting relationship between work and wife requires gossipA confidant is useless if they are not willing to get some shade. A slacker who says, ‘Let’s take it to the text’, is a historic milestone in the relationship; a text that says, “BRB goes to Signal,” is even better. But tread carefully here. Start with an open question about whether they have heard of drama and what they think about it. If they see that the situation is wrong (because your way of seeing is obviously correct), go ahead. However, if you feel a glimmer of kinship, take another step. (It sketch by Akilah Hughes and Milana Vayntrub is the perfect demonstration of how to do this dance, and the joy that comes from realizing that you are on the same page.)
One of my favorite things about the Ricki-Pia union is that it even started pre-pandemic. This weekend, they met for the first time on a beach in LA (according to the photographic evidence they provided me). By the time beach days arrive in New York, Cristin, you may have been vaccinated and ready to meet your workwoman in the Rockaways.
Over the past two weeks, a few people I work with at other businesses have asked to consider personal meetings. I have had the privilege of working from home for the past year; I am (not yet!) Vaccinated, and still feel slim about contact with people. Meeting with most of these people is also not a core requirement for my job. How should I respond to these meeting requests – and when is the right time to start taking IRL meetings again? Honestly, if I’m going to take a few more risks, I’d rather have family and friends embrace first.