I love baking, I love cakes and when I am trying not to eat too much cake myself I bake for others, sometimes I bring in homemade cakes for my colleagues at work. One of my dearest friends bakes a lot for her male colleagues too and her husband has expressed disapproval of our baking for work. He thinks it is a waste of money and of time and that it is rather unprofessional. Leaving aside the issues of time and money, I think this is an outdated view along the same lines as to be taken seriously women should avoid wearing makeup, skirts and heels.
My friend and I have discussed at length the reasons for this. Initially we wondered if it was because the cake maker gets to be the centre of attention for a while and receives thanks and compliments. We have concluded that it is a lot more complex than that; baking cakes is an almost exclusively female pursuit, to bring in a cake highlights the bakers femaleness within the (male) working environment. And so if a man is busy thinking what great cakes someone has made, it isn’t much of a mental leap to realise that the baker is a woman and to start wondering what she looks like naked, hence husbandly disapproval.
I make a cake for work about eight times a year, certainly not enough to make me the office feeder. Office feeders are a different sort of phenomenon, usually they are females trying to make other females fat to justify their own munching or by not eating the cake they want to highlight their own self control where others can’t resist. We have a sort of feeder who supplies chocolate biscuits quite unnecessarily to a weekly meeting. The tin is produced with much glee and we are shown what treats she’s purchased this week and then we are all asked to financially contribute, which I resent as I never have taken one of her biscuits.
I like that every once in a while I can do something nice for the ward nurses or the clinic nurses or the secretaries. We frequently miss out lunch and dinner in our job and so the odd cake hanging about theatre does improve the collective mood. I don’t think it makes me less of a doctor, I don’t do it because I am seeking approval or trying to curry favour and I certainly don’t mind if not everyone wants a piece of it.