Worried about what impression you’re making on your colleagues with your award-winning banana bread? You’re not alone. Many women wonder: Is baking for the office reinforcing antiquated gender norms? Will I still be taken seriously?

If I, as a woman, choose to prepare food at home and bring it to my colleagues, do I really need to be concerned about how my generosity is working to my detriment? I find this issue to be rather baffling.

A write-up in Forbes and a post on Ask a Manager offer some insights. I see two opinions on the matter:

  1. NO
    Don’t do it. If you, as a woman, decide to bring baked goods into the office, you are doing yourself and your career a disservice. Your (mostly male) peers will view you as a homemaker or someone who doesn’t take her professionalism seriously. Your ability to perform at your job will be questioned. People will lose respect for you. Thai phrases . You will never advance in your career. YOU WILL NEVER GET THE CORNER OFFICE!
  2. MEH
    It’s OK to bake things for the office and share them with your coworkers, BUT you need to make sure you have enough MASCULINE traits to balance this “domestic” pursuit. Make sure you are ASSERTIVE, CONFIDENT or whatever traits are deemed masculine these days. Honestly I’ve lost track. Is there a flow chart for this?

EcoWomenMuffin

I feel like we need to use our judgment with this. Food is a big deal to me. I like to prepare it. I admire it. And when I do manage to try a new recipe or have leftovers from an event, I like to share it with people with whom I spend 40 hours a week. These people are a part of my life. I don’t feel obligated to do it—I like to do it. If you don’t, then cool! You don’t need to.

I don’t think pastry detracts from my performance. Not performing detracts from my performance. Not respecting myself and taking my work seriously detracts from my performance.

Note: I’ve always worked in the nonprofit and government sector. In some jobs I’ve chosen not to share my food (and myself) with my colleagues, while in others I have cooked with them.

Other benefits of baking for the office:

  • As Tina Fey says, food breeds loyalty: “You want some happy coworkers who may go the extra mile for you? Bring them foodz! They may not reciprocate the way you expect, but they’ll show you they care.”
  • Captive audience to build your cooking skills: That crazy recipe that combines kale, red chili and rhubarb? Try it and bring it to the office! You work with at least a dozen guinea pigs just chomping at the bit to try your new concoction because “FREE FOOD, OH MY GOSH.” Why not let them serve as your judges? Some may offer a helpful tip; others may spit your food into the garbage. Either way, you’ve tried something new on a new audience that may provide some good feedback, so it’s a win-win, really.

Word to the wise: Whatever you bring in, pre-cut your food. The site of one of your dishes being mutilated by people wanting to take a “taste” (aka a fourth of a cupcake—are you kidding?) is not for the faint hearted.

So, what new stuff are we attempting this month? Share recipes below, EcoWomen!

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