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Who Gets Appreciated?

emotional labor on the Airbnb engineering team

At Airbnb, we have a tradition of Appreciating people at our weekly engineering meeting — it’s an opportunity to recognize and thank people who’ve helped you or done great work. It’s one of my favorite traditions here! I’ve Appreciated coworkers for everything from cleaning up old CSS to providing a listening ear.

But over the past few months, I’ve been having a creeping feeling that we have an unconscious bias to Appreciate men disproportionately. At this week’s meeting, men were Appreciated for organizing a social event for new hires, reviewing pull requests thoroughly, and providing support to another team’s project.

Nothing wrong with that, but these are duties that I’ve seen women engineers here hit it out of the park on — particularly with on-boarding and organizing events. But it seems to me that the men in these roles get acknowledged much more frequently for that work.

There’s a good explanation for that — a well-established body of research shows that we notice more when men perform what’s called ‘emotional labor’ compared to when women do it.

So I’d like to throw this challenge out to all of us: can you think of any awesome women on your team you’d want to appreciate? Write them a note or thank them in person— it’ll make their day. Let’s fight bias together.

Further reading:

  1. hbr.org/2015/08/reclassifying-office-housework
  2. sasha.wtf/relying-on-volunteering-is-unfair/
  3. laurenbacon.com/women-tech-empathy-work/

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