As I scanned faces in a recent call I was on, the virtual room and the accompanying banter felt very “male”. I knew that around one third of the people on the call would be female, but to my eyes it seemed a lot less.
The black boxes of course, that explains it. I did a quick count of the faces and video-less boxes on screen. My hunch wasn’t entirely correct. Of the 12 black boxes, equal numbers of men and women had their cameras off.
But the percentage of women with cameras turned off was a lot higher for women, hence the apparent male-ness of the room.
There are many good reasons for why this might be.
Maybe women don’t like the feeling of being observed. We have to put in more effort into our appearance, and getting work-ready does take us more time. Without the effort, maybe women are less comfortable with showing their home-face to colleagues. Maybe women feel that they will be judged more for their home workspace set up. Maybe they feel less comfortable than men in putting their private living space on display. Or maybe they just feel video is unnecessary.
All valid reasons. But the trouble is, it makes the virtual space even less women-friendly then it already is.