I was raised during the women’s movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, in a family of three girls with parents who made it abundantly clear that we could be whatever we wanted to be, provided we were willing to work hard enough to achieve our goals.
Not everyone agreed with my parents.
I worked hard, harder than hard. My bosses appreciated and rewarded my efforts, and yet it seemed evident that being a woman was a handicap if one’s aim was to climb the corporate ladder.
When I was quite young, my male boss said to me, “The kind of woman I like is one who can suck a tennis ball through a garden hose.” I didn’t know what that meant, although when he followed it up with, “Preferably named Candy, Bambi, or Lucille,” I had an idea. I don’t remember what I said in reply, but I’m sure I didn’t protest. In those days, going along to get along was how lots of young women behaved at work.
Women exhibited a gender bias, too, which I can only hope was subconscious. During a downturn in the economy in the early ‘90s, I participated in discussions about an impending lay-off. Our human resources department, staffed entirely by women, suggested that we keep the man who was the sole support of his family rather than the pregnant woman whose husband had a job.
“She’s better at her job,” I protested.
I was over-ruled.
After many years of observing and experiencing subtle and less-than-subtle discrimination, I met my Waterloo. I asked a male boss for a promotion and he said, “Why can’t you just be happy doing what you’re doing?”
Furious, I went to Human Resources. The woman I spoke to admitted that the company seemed to have a glass ceiling and suggested that instead of trying to go up it would be better to go wide. In other words, if you work hard and prove your value and don’t get rewarded for it, work harder.
There was an OpEd in The Boston Globe today by former Vermont Governor, Madeleine May Kunin. On the subject of Hillary Clinton’s waning popularity she says, “She is the same woman as she was three years ago. She has not changed her genome, her values, or her vision for America. What has changed is that she has emblazoned the word “ambition” on her forehead by declaring that she wants to be president.”
I fear that younger women don’t fully realize how much more there is to be done to obtain equality in the workplace, or anywhere else. The discrimination they face may not be as blatant, but it’s still there.
I used to think we lived in a world where anything was possible, and that was exciting. Now I think we live in a world where anything is possible, and I’m scared.
Vote for Hillary.