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When my mother recently had out-patient surgery, she had me wear her wedding ring for half a day to keep it safe. Although it didn’t make a difference in my own work (I only taught one class that day, and I don’t think my students noticed), it got me thinking about the ways women who wear a wedding ring are perceived and treated.

Back when I was married, I used to go watch my husband perform in various bands, usually at bars. Far from being a detriment to unwanted male attention, my wedding ring seemed to be (forgive the language) a douche magnet. As a married woman sitting alone at a bar, I was apparently perceived as being interested in a one-night stand. Innocent as I was, I had no idea why strange men kept coming up to me saying strange things, nor did I realize the proper response was to simply ignore them. They also invariably left quickly, leaving me confused: why ask me about interior decoration? I didn’t know anything about carpets and drapes, and in a place like that, who cared if they matched?

On the other side of the coin, I have read professional women who don’t wear rings are able to network with more male colleagues, even when their relationships are strictly professional. I can only guess that in the work sphere, men tend to be looking for more long-lasting relationships. Hooking up with co-workers or business contacts can be extremely hazardous, or so I deduce, as such flings can lead to hurt feelings and a lack of respect, not to mention awkward silences in the break room or during meetings. But since most people spend several hours a day interacting at work with people who have at least that in common, it seems natural that longer-lasting, personal relationships will develop. It’s one reason academics tend to marry other academics: who better to understand the long hours in lesson planning, researching, writing, and grading papers, etc., than someone else who is doing the same thing?

So, what about it, married female readers? Have you noticed any difference in your work life between wearing a ring or not?

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