Great emails, intriguing comments, even a few phone calls.
Terry Doner noted that: "I was recently reading about a noted gender difference, specifically that females tend to value 'relationship' more than men. If you accept that as a frequently truth, then rather than just being a 'hidden rule', it could also be that women care more about those details and so are likely to pursue them."
This may be so. Which makes it potentially a strength and worth discussing. I believe men and women value relationships but maybe it's fair to say that men value more the results/outcomes of having them while women value more the development of them? We need both approaches.
Gary Zavitz wrote "...it might depend on organization size, particular work culture and prevailing attitudes. Key issue is qualifying the term, 'workplace': SMB? Mid-sized? Large corporate? Public or Private Sector? Profit/Non-Profit?..."
Yes, variables always influence things. Dress codes in non-profit might allow for more self-expression. Larger companies sometimes have hidden pockets of better/worse examples. etc. But hidden rules are across all industries regardless. That's not a bad thing; hopefully in some areas/industries there is better conversation around the issues too!
One reader pointed out that her hidden rule was around women apologizing for or qualifying prior to actually coming out with their idea. I worked for a woman once who had us all put a dollar on the table every time we did that. We had enough to take the team for drinks in 4 meetings (not-for-profit).
Do men also get pushback on self-expression? Perhaps they don't seem to mind it; they ignore it or choose to work within it?
An anonymous comment speculated that "...complain, complain, complain. What people without real talent do. Get the right skill set and compete, instead of complaining about being held back by men- wasted energy"
Which of course is the point. Have the conversation. Make the corrections/add the skill/face the challenge. Make it your choice vs. the unspoken expectation. Together, we can help others understand the expectations.