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.
I so totally agree. The United States is still so blatantly sexist. Why can’t we just elect the best, most qualified person to the job…. especially when she’s so obviously up against a blatantly unqualified candidate who just happens to be a man.
Brava, Judy–these are things that need to be said–and kept in mind. Many of us could add stories about discrimination in the work place and in hiring. I was once asked, “But what will your husband do?” The situation may have improved, but we have a long way to go.
Amen! With you Judy.
Such an excellent analogy of struggles and how far as “We the people” have come. It’s high time for the human kind to come to terms that gender, race, religion among others are irrelevant to the to what who really we are. Finally and hopefully when our founding fathers wrote ” We the people ” it was meant to all of us regardless. Thanks Judy!!! Vote Hilary.
I’m with her. And you are absolutely right.
Judy, it’s no accident I found your blog on the day after the election. This post about Hillary is so right on. I am so sad that she lost the election when we all had such high hopes and dreams for her as our first woman president. I’m still in shock and disbelief. Hopefully I’ll accept this outcome and feel somewhat hopeful, it will take awhile!! For now I totally feel it was sexism, that so many people are not ready for a woman president even when she is so qualified. It’s sad and we still have a way to go.
I hope you are still writing your blog, especially since I just found it today. Thank you for your posts:)