gender bias

Serena Williams is a Bad Ass...oh and by the way she is also a woman...GASP

Excuse my language in the title of this post but is there really any other way to describe Serena Williams? 

uh, no there isn't

Recently, after winning the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, Serena Williams was interviewed at a press conference. During which gender came into the dialog, as it often does. One question asked, if she felt it was fair for women to get paid the same as men, if the matches were shorter....So you earn less for being better?

uh, what? no.

I wish I could say it ended there, it didn't. Here is the question that many have been talking about ever since. One, because it was dumb, two because, well Serena schooled the reporter in the most polite and yes bad ass way ever.

REPORTER:

"There will be talk of you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time. What do you think when you hear something like that?"

Serena, never one to back away from the conversation of gender in sport responded quickly as if there wasn't even a question how she should respond which makes sense when you are the best of the best.

SERENA:

"I prefer the word 'one of the greatest athletes' of all time."

uh, yeah because you are a bad ass, Serena


Then, this week another reporter was talking to 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray when a reporter, John Inverdale asked the following:

REPORTER:

"You're the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That's an extraordinary feat, isn't it?"

ANDY:

"Umm," Murray said. "Well."

He was indeed the first modern tennis player to successfully defend the singles title at the Olympics, he noted.

But "I think Venus and Serena have won about four [gold medals] each,"

uh, now I kinda heart Andy Murray

I am not quite sure why it seems so hard for people in the media to give female athletes credit for their successes. It isn't just Serena who experiences this either. 

Check out this headline that was tweeted out as an example of how we treat athletes different based on their gender.

Uh, I think they are missing the boat on the real story here

Uh, I think they are missing the boat on the real story here

I realize that not everybody sees this as an issue. When I brought the subject up around some friends and co-workers (outside of the sports industry) the response was less enthusiastic. Few people said anything negative but many questioned why it matters.

It matters because it isn't just the media attention or respect that is unbalanced. It is also the pay. While you may not directly care about how much one super star athlete gets paid vs. the next, it trickles down.

It is widely known that female athletes do not get paid at the same level of their male counterparts.

In almost every single sport women earn considerably less than their male counterparts. Women are supplementing this lack of equal pay with endorsement deals which is misleading when you just compare total salaries against their male counterparts, if you take endorsements the gap in pay is much larger.

so, why do people get paid what they do? Arguments for the gap include; overall fan base, game attendance, tv endorsement deals and in general the amount of money generated by the sport. That doesn't tell the whole story though, as many female sports haven't been given the same options and support in the way of promotion etc.

So why focus on sports, when we know that on average women as a whole make somewhere on average of 72 cents to every dollar a man makes in this country?

Exposure & Transparency

Plain and simple. The women fighting for equality at these higher dollar levels brings about exposure to the overall issue of a gender bias and the gender pay gap. This is an important part of the process for change.

In less exposed industries, like a call center for example, the worker is less likely to know for sure what her counterpart make vs. herself and even if they do find out many companies attempt to say that it is illegal or against the rules to discuss salary among your peers and people fear retribution for rocking the boat. Serena isn't worried about rocking the boat. Tennis doesn't want to lose her. Say what you will but what she has done to elevate the sport of tennis in viewership, endorsement and pure love of the game, has probably generated more revenue to the actual sport than any other athlete in recent memory.

It is easier to ignore the call center operator, but you aren't ignoring Serena Williams.

How can Serena Help Us?

In a world where there is still a long way to go regarding gender and the gender pay gap there are signs of progress.,.well kind of. For starters most women in today's world make more than women have ever made in the past. We make more than our mothers and our grandmothers. Slightly misleading since many of our mothers and grandmothers didn't actually work but it still is important to note. Women account for 80% of all buying decisions in this country. Important to note for a number of reasons:

we are more educated than ever - not just in general but with regards to our finances

We have the majority stake and say in family buying decision - as the caretakers for children, and family members, we are calling the shots in every day life. 

It's time we get the respect we deserve for that and if Serena, women like her and even awesome men like Andy Murray continue to point out the discrepancies and demand better it helps us all.

Further proof of Serena's bad-assness....this little girl here...

For more information on the gender pay gap in sports, check out the infographic below:

SOURCE:  http://sportsmanagement.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/a-look-at-male-and-female-professional-athlete-salaries/

SOURCE: http://sportsmanagement.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/a-look-at-male-and-female-professional-athlete-salaries/

got cojones?

I was recently on a plane having a lovely discussion with the woman sitting next to me. She was in her 60’s and was asking me about what I do which then flourished into a really great conversation on gender, workplace, the past and how far we have come etc.

After about an hour or so she got up to use the restroom. When she was gone, the man sitting on the other side of me tapped me on the shoulder “I couldn't help but over hear your conversation, do you mind if I ask you something?”

I of course agreed and this was his question...

"What do you say to boys so they don’t feel emasculated?"

I did a double take unsure if I had heard his question correctly and asked for some clarification. In short he proceeded to explain that he works for the federal government and that in his experience the government and other companies are giving jobs to women instead of men and that the woman are never “thought leaders” and often not deserving of the job but only get it because they are women and that is the big push right now.  So do I speak to boys so that they don’t get discouraged by this? 

It is not often that I am left , and speechless. In this moment, however, I was. He was not rude but there was something in his tone that told me I needed to tread softly. (also not really a strong point of mine) An airplane is not the best place to have a conversation like this...while there are emergency exits, they are not exactly an option.

But here is the thing, some of what he said isn't necessarily wrong. Across the nation there are programs working specifically to help women get jobs and research shows that women are getting employed in record numbers. But does that mean they are "stealing" jobs from men? Are they not qualified?

I would argue that they are very qualified. In fact women are working to get qualified, consider this: 

1990-2008
women’s median income in the US grew 29% compared to 2% for men

Women are making all of this headway because they have chosen to go out and get educated. While there are programs for women today (thank goodness), they aren't just given to women. Women are working for them. Need proof?

As I thought about how I would respond to this gentleman, I realized that providing all of these stats and other similar ones was probably not going to make him feel any better. Instead I focused on the fact that what I speak about is not focused on emasculating anyone or saying that any one gender is better than another. I also tried to express that at the end of the day, it shouldn't be about one gender being better than another, one race better than another, one sexual preference being better than another. It's about providing opportunities for EVERYONE that is willing to go after it. 

Our conversation was nice. He accepted my explanation and gave me a few things to think about as well. At the end of the day isn't that what it's all about?

I am not sure that this post was necessarily about anything in particular. I just felt like the experience should be shared. So, there you have it

sources:

Why She Buys - Bridget Brennan

a lil' swag goes a long way ... just ask Kanye

Yesterday I started a 5 day series that I am calling "5 in 5"  each day this week I will cover a different hurdle and tips for clearing them as we start climbing those ladders so that we can shatter those glass ceilings. It's a lot of work, so let's get started. First, a reminder of the topics the topics...

  • Sorry not sorry (Posted Monday August 3, 2015)
    • I"m here for a reason, get over it
  • A lil' swag goes a long way
    • Just ask Kanye
  • Eww, verbal diarrhea is so not cool
    • Seriously, dude, it's not a good look
  • I got shot gun, I called it
    • (and other ridiculous game you should learn to play)
  • Let em' hear you roar
    • (it's okay, we promise)

Today, we talk SWAG. Not the free stuff brands give out to convince you to like their product. I am talking about real swagger here. 

graceful confidence

First, a definition. Swagger is a hip-hop term that you are probably farmiliar with but I am putting a bit of a spin on my definition. You will notice I defined it as "graceful confidence". I did this because when we are talking workplace, hustle and purpose, there has to be a certain grace to your actions. You have to balance between being cocky, self assured, confident and a total jerk. If I had a visual for this it would be Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines. If you do not know who they are, shame on you.  They were both dancers, singers and actors who moved with a quiet, distinguished and definitely graceful confidence. There was something about it that was just.....well...

cool with out even knowing it. Don't believe me? Watch for yourself.

Ok, so what do tap dancers have to do with swag and what does swag have to do with the workplace?

It's simple, every single thing in the workplace comes down to one thing... confidence. With out it, you aren't going very far. But if you are a woman the rules are a bit different. 

There are studies out there that show identical resume's being looked over by people. The only difference was the name on the top of the resume, for example John vs. Jennifer. The men were always evaluated much more favorably than the women regardless of the gender of the person doing the evaluation. Studies range by occupation and industry but the result are startlingy similar.  All of the things that people use to describe men as competent and exception at work are the same traits that are used to say the women are not.

Negative words are more often used to describe a woman's performance. In many cases, the woman can't win. If she acts "like one of the guys" she is deemed unpleasant, aggressive, bossy etc. If she acts "like one of the girls" she is emotional, unstable, fickle. Talk about playing a game with a loaded deck.

I ran into the situation more than once during my career. I can pull out review after review that use the following adjectives to describe me:

  • too passionate
  • outspoken
  • aggressive
  • need to develop your leadership skills more
  • emotional
  • too invested in the job
  • bitchy or condescending, bossy, 
  • rub some people the wrong way
  • doing too much, other people are feeling "dwarfed" (yes that is a real quote)
  • "maybe take it down just one notch"

Sadly, this list could go on. It is this same list however that would have co-workers come to me for advice and bosses asking me to take lead, be an example and to grab the bull by the horns and get things done. All of my reviews in my career have been marked with an "exceeds expectations" and full raises/bonuses, you name it but the negative language you see above was also in all of them.

How do we then deal with this catch 22? I can only speak from my own personal experience and so I will share with you what I have experienced.

When all of this negative language is presented to you, find out what they would suggest you do to change it for the better. Ask you bosses questions. Questions and insight are powerful weapons. Use them to navigate the "aggression" which I call "confidence" to your advantage.

Don't just ask any questions though. Ask them tough question that require your superiors to have just as much responsibility for your success as you have. Ask what you can do. Ask for examples of when what you did or said could be perceived negative. You will start to see some patterns.

I noticed that the things they were complaining about were also the things they liked in other employees. So I did the comparison game. Now I do no normally recommend this but in this instance it made sense.

Seek out people in your organization that you admire, people who are hard working, have great reputations for getting things done and being effective leaders. Ask all of these people to coffee or lunch or even drinks. Now ask them questions as well.

When I did this I asked both the women and men the same questions.

What do you struggle with in the workplace if anything regarding your gender?

Is it hard to work in an office full of people of the opposite gender?

Got any tips for how to navigate the corporate structure with regards to these things?

When the women responded I started to see similarities. When I asked the men the same question I got a lot of blank and/or confused stairs and a question in return "I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

This was an interesting experiment and one I highly recommend. Next pull your bosses aside and ask some simple questions. Ask them to compare you to a male counterpart. GASP! right? Ask the following:

  • Am I more or less passionate than him?
  • Am I more of less aggressive than him?
  • Is my work better or worse than his?

When asked these questions, every single manager I asked answered "no" or in some instances "more and better". Well, that's not confusing at all. It's like the boys who says he likes you one day, then pulls on your pigtails the next day.

picture borrowed from http://sorryiamnotsorry.com/2012/06/27/taking-the-mystery-out-of-romance-how-to-tell-if-he-likes-you/

The cherry on top for me was the question below:

have you ever heard anyone in leadership use these same words to describe him?

do they call him a bitch?

Do they say he is bossy?

do they tell him to take it down a notch?

Blank stares, sit back in chairs, shadow of understanding comes across faces followed by a frantic brain scan to figure out what to say were typically the responses I received.

This is a long way to say that having the confidence to ask the questions and speak up when something isn't right is swag. It is graceful confidence because it is trying to determine where and if improvements truly need to be made. It puts the focus on the work and not the gender. 

I can not necessarily say after this happened, I no longer felt a gender bias at work. If that were the case, it would have been once boss I spoke to instead of multiple. However, I did notice in all cases, a different level of respect from those particular managers. In one case, my next review raved about all of the changes I had made to become a really "solid leader" of the team and that I had really taken the criticism to heart and made the necessary changes to go further in my career.

I swear to you, I changed nothing except the fact that I asked those questions. 


Sometimes we have to get people to see us in another light and sometimes you have to work your way around the path to get to the final destination. Do whatever works for you but don't shy away, get quiet and sit down in the corner. We gain nothing from shrinking into the background. Sometimes, you gotta get a little Kanye West up in the place (in the most respectful way possible of course.) So turn up your collar, put on those high heels (as my friend Suzanne just emailed me) and get your swagger on.

To the cool kids, hipsters and people in the hip-hop game, thanks for letting me borrow your slang for this. I realize I may not be the intended demographic for such language but it works and it resonated with me, so again ... no apologies, just thanks.


Have you ever got all Yeezy on a situation at work? Tell me about in the comments below or on social media using the hashtags

  • #kanyemademedoitdawne
  • #dawnehanksdotcom

Tomorrow we continue the series and just to prepare you, things may sound a little gross because we are talking about verbal diarrhea. I know, as Jimmy Fallon would say ...  EWW.  


sorry not sorry...i'm here for a reason get over it

I have talked a lot about my own personal experiences to set the stage, today I want to switch it up a little bit and provide you with some tangible tips to push past the biases you may experience in the work place.

The 5 tenants I want to focus on are listed below and I am going to try and post each day this week so we can get them all covered and start climbing those ladders so that we can shatter those glass ceilings. It's a lot of work, so let's get started. First the topics...

  • Sorry not sorry
    • I"m here for a reason, get over it
  • A lil' swag goes a long way
    • Just ask Kanye
  • Eww, verbal diarrhea is so not cool
    • Seriously, dude, it's not a good look
  • I got shot gun, I called it
    • (and other ridiculous game you should learn to play)
  • Let em' hear you roar
    • (it's okay, we promise)

Ever notice how women are always apologizing for the strangest things?  How many times have you heard someone say the following or, if you're being honest have said them yourself?

  • "Sorry, can I ask a stupid question?"
  • "Sorry, do you have a minute"
  • "Sorry" when someone else bumps into you
  • "Sorry" as you hand your child to their father
  • "Sorry" when someone sits too close to you
  • "Sorry" when someone else was the wrongdoer

What's the big deal? I mean I know I probably did one of these this week alone. We are just being polite, right? But are we doing that or is it something else? 

Saying I'm sorry is one of those annoying quirks and peccadilloes that seem to come in like an alien and body snatch every bit of what makes us us and for some reason we let it. Probably because we were taught to have manners and be the "bigger" (better) person. So we say sorry again and again. It is almost like when you great someone with "hi, how are you?" The whole concept is there as a rhetorical question because if anybody actually stopped and told you ow they were feeling, you would be running for cover because let's face, for most people that we present that question to, we don't really care.

I know, sometimes I'm a bit of a jerk. but I'm a truthful jerk and I am only saying what most of us are thinking. We say "sorry" as a formality. We don't really mean it and if you asked us "why" we apologized, we probably wouldn't know what to say. In the small cases we would be able to give you a reason, it will sound just as ridiculous in our head as it did when you heard it out loud. Then we go home and curse ourselves for doing something so "stupid" and never once giving ourselves the luxury of an apology.


in the workplace

When we are interviewed and hired for a job the assumption is that we impressed the boss. We said or did something that let them know we would be an asset to the team. Imagine the bosses surprise when we show up and start apologizing for all of the things they hired us to do. That's doesn't make any sense, it also doesn't help you out at all because it is not what they wanted. It may seem seem like they do but they don't.

how do i know that? well, do you see men do it?

I realize men and women are different but that doesn't mean one is superior over the other or that one's ideas, questions, space or responsibility is any more valuable than the other. It just means different. So while I ask if you see men do this, it is not to tell you that you should copy what they are doing but comparing our reaction to a situation at work with that of a man does gives some good insight into confidence and at the end of the day confidence is key. Now for the million dollar question Alex...

i apologize.jpg

how do we stop saying i'm sorry all the time?

 

 

I'm glad you asked. It is NOT easy. I still catch myself doing it from time to time, especially when I just don't want to bothered. What I have found to be effective though is do one or more of the following:

know you surroundings

a lot of times, sorry comes from feeling inadequate. When you take the time to REALLY evaluate a room, you will realize two things.

  1. They are all just people, like you
  2. Some of them are definitely smarter than you but some are definitely not.

This means that 99% of the time you are sitting with people who are probably saying sorry in their head too, especially if they are women. Know what the men are thinking that you don't hear or see? 

Fake it till you make it

Yup, that age old saying is so true. You are smart. You are capable. You are strong. You're basically amazing. THEY hired you, not the other way around so if you don't know something, learn it. If you're confused, ask questions (with out apologizing for them). If you need to get up to speed, then work a little extra to get there. Despite what some may think, hard work, knowledge, dedication, passion and commitment do still mean something in the world and people will recognize your efforts. Nobody knows everything and very few people are experts. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. How many of the people in that office have put in that work? So relax, and fake it till you make it. I mean hello, you know what will happen, the saying tells you. You will make it!

get passionate about your work

If you wanna be a shark, be a shark This one is not so easy for a couple of reasons. 

  1. What happens if your job isn't exactly sexy and not what you dreamed of?
  2. Once you do it, people will use passionate to describe you in BOTH positive AND negative ways when you are a woman. Sorry, but it is true, there are studies all over to prove it.

Passion comes from within. You have to learn to harness it. I believe passion and drive are intimately connected. You have to WANT something to feel passion. Now, that might only be money. It might be respect or recognition or the knowledge of a job well done. If you are lucky, it is all of those things PLUS getting to do something that actually knocks your socks off. When I speak to kids, I always tell them that passion and creativity manifest themselves differently in everyone. It is up to us to figure out how. Stop complaining about not knowing your purpose and go find it. Easier said than done yes but NOTHING gets done until you want it bad enough.

So, how bad do you want it? If you want it that bad, why are you apologizing? You've made it this far, so you're doing something right, all it takes to move ahead, is one little step.

Okay, the first tenant is done, come back tomorrow when we talk about swagger in the workplace. YUP, I typed "SWAGGER". Deal with it. 

share with me

If you are feeling especially engaged today, tell me what you're "NOT SORRY" about in the comments below or on social media with the hashtags

  • #sorrynotsorrydawne
  • #dawnehanksdotcom

P.S.

I just want to thank everyone who emailed, texted, wrote and called me last week and told me about your experiences. I was in awe and truly humbled that you read my words but that you also chose to share yours with me. Just Keep Swimming. 

 

when it happens to you

you came back for part 2. YEAH! 

thank you

here's where we left off... (if you missed Wednesday's part one, go read it so you can catch up.)

when it happens to you...

yes i made these trophies and yes it is supposed to represent hustle and doing good at your job, mainly because who has a random picture of them in a cubicle or desk working away that looks interesting? Not me, so I decided to just use an image of winning. It works, right?

yes i made these trophies and yes it is supposed to represent hustle and doing good at your job, mainly because who has a random picture of them in a cubicle or desk working away that looks interesting? Not me, so I decided to just use an image of winning. It works, right?

I was struggling at work. It wasn't WITH the work necessarily. That was always the easy part. I was struggling with the structure around me and the way in which business was done. This is not to say my way was right, it is simply saying that I wasn't used to what was happening and it confounded me. 

You see, in my experience, work had always been somewhat easy. I got the job, I went in, worked hard, got bored, asked for more, did more and then typically moved on to something new. Here I was in a job that I loved but the environment was all wrong. For the first time in my career it felt as if people were judging me. It felt like people didn't like me. I understand that in the professional world "being liked" should not be what keeps you up at night and normally it wouldn't. I am pretty confident in who I am and I know that I am not for everyone but at work, I had never had to deal with that. 


On a weekly, sometimes daily basis, I was told one or more of the following things:

  • you are too aggressive
  • maybe if you toned it down a bit, people would be more receptive
  • they think you are a bitch
  • why don't you ask (fill in the blank with any guy's name) to help
  • he got promoted because he had more experience (despite having less education and work experience than me)
  • we just really need you to be less emotional
  • you shouldn't care so much
  • You are really good at what you do but we just need you to change this one little thing
  • your personality just doesn't mesh well here
  • some people think you are too harsh, I don't but "some" people do

huh?


I would come home every night and feel like I had gone a few rounds in a boxing ring. Wasn't I hired because I was aggressive? Wasn't I hired because I am good and show results? Should I be worried that people don't "like" me? Why in the heck should I not "care" about what I am doing? Wait, why wasn't I promoted?

huh?


I think this happens a lot to women, maybe not this exact thing but the idea that at some point at work, you are told to act different than who you are and you are done in so in a way that wouldn't have been said if you were a guy. Heck, some of the guys I worked with literally would go into my bosses office and FART, yes FART and they would laugh with the boss about it. First of all WHAT? or to stay with the theme...

huh?

I am not kidding. When we find ourselves in these situations (not the farting, the stuff before that) MOST women, start to question their qualifications and value. They feel the need to justify themselves and the make accommodations that men wouldn't. But why wouldn't we?

For example, how many times have you been in a meeting, maybe you are the only woman, and you are the one is asked to take notes or call for lunch? In my entire 20 plus year career I have NEVER seen a guy take meeting notes OR order lunch. NEVER! We are not "just one of the guys" and apparently that is less somehow.

These things might seem small to some but they really add up to a lot and they are why teaching our daughters to be leaders is so important. We will not become leaders if we do not acknowledge what we bring to the table. We have to find a way to move past the ridiculousness of experiences like the one I explained.

I know what you're thinking, was it really that easy for me to just "get past it"?

heck no.

I was upset. I was confused and don't tell anyone, but I basically cried on my drive home every single night. This was not what I signed up for. I really had a crisis of confidence and I am NOT a person who has a confidence issue at work. But I felt like I was just hanging there and since I knew this was not me I had to develop a game plan. Something had to change and unfortunately I have yet to secure a super power that allows me to bend people at my will. This means...

i couldn't just hang there anymore...i had to be the change.

to be continued...

next we'll talk about ways to change our attitude, outlook & responses in the workplace so that we can continue our upward climbs on those ladders we're always hearing about. Till Then...

where does it all come from?

I grew up in a single-parent household. That particular single parent changed a time or two but alas, most of my life I lived and primarily dealt with one of my biological parents. I was and still am the oldest of 6 children as the result of 3 marriages. I fall in to all of the typical birth order statistics. I tend to lead my siblings around, sometimes dragging them against their will. I want everyone to get along and I try to help everyone even when they aren't asking for my help and yes at times I think I know better than they do. I have that personality trait that thinks I have to make everything better or at the very least okay. I always believed that if people left a place, time or thing with a great feeling that everything else in life would be great too. So, as I grew up, I took charge of things. I was/am stubborn, opinionated, driven, loud, inpatient, anxious,  empathetic and I expect a lot from just about everyone and everything which means I am often disappointed.

It is with all of these attributed that I attacked life. From the earliest memories I have, I wanted to be a part of the action. My partner in crime, was my slightly younger brother (17 months apart) and if he was going to do it, then so was I. I drove big wheels, played in the mud, told wild and crazy stories and as some family members love to remind me, I even talked FOR my brother as his "official advocate". 

I do not know where these personality traits come from. If I look at my parents, sure I suppose they have one or two of the traits between them but neither manifest in quite the same way that I do. It is because of these traits that I always thought I would be more. I don't know if I had identified what more meant but I just knew it was more than what others expected from me and I always felt the need to prove people wrong in how they saw me. Oh yeah, I was that kid.

As I got older, you couldn't tell me nothing. I was head strong, independent and looking for something. In hindsight I realize that I was looking for me. Corny? Maybe, but I was looking for what my purpose was. Some may have said I was a little lost and at times I won't lie, I felt that way but it really was all in search of that purpose, that reason for being.

My path to purpose had a lot of bumps and bruises that we will save for another post. (yikes) The reason I mention this journey and these personality traits is because of an article I read today. The article posed the question "are you holding your daughter back; 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders". I want to spend the next few days discussing this idea. In order to do that I have to tell some of my story.

Let's all admit that in the late 70's and early 80"s there wasn't a whole lot of discussion about raising daughters to be leaders. Yes there was a lot of bra burning or just going bra-less but it was more about the women themselves seeking something for themselves. Today we live in this whole "save our girls" world, which don't get me wrong is great and I am a part of it, no if's and's or but's about it but back then it was just different. (I say this because I want it to be known that there is no judgement in what I am writing about today. They were different times.) Saying all that, I will tell you that I do not ever remember a time in my life where an adult told me "that I wouldn't do something because I was a girl". I was told I couldn't do things because I was ugly or dumb but never because I was a girl. (yes I realize the other ones are horrendous too, but that is a whole other post too.)

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

I tried out for just about every sport, club or organization in junior high, all in search of my purpose, I never thought about whether or not I could or couldn't because of my gender. I actually tried to be on the wrestling team and now that I think about it, I was told I couldn't do that one because I was a girl and there weren't any other girls for me to compete with which I thought was lame but didn't really give it any thought beyond that. I started work at an early age and always had a very easy time getting jobs, they were all basically awful teenage jobs but they were jobs. In every single job I ever had, I wanted to do more, make more and rise in ranks. It had nothing to do with whether or not I liked the job. It had everything to do with the fact that I just knew I was meant for more. More of what, was really still the question. In the process of this I didn't pay gender any mind. I just kept working and trying to do more, make more and be more. 

When my career finally took off is when I started to see it. The quiet comments about a girls attire in the office. The mumbling about a woman in the office who said too much too loudly or "aggressively". I started to pay attention to where people say, what they wore, how they were talked about, promoted and/or rewarded and that is when my eyes opened up. I was hitting a lot of road blocks and suddenly I saw one of the reasons why. 

HOLD ON

Before you go getting bent out of shape because you think I am blaming all of life's problems on gender bias, I beg you to stop. 

that is not what i am saying.

I am simply saying that for the first time in my entire life I noticed gender and the way in which it was dealt with. I still had this mindset that it had nothing to do with me. I would coach my little sisters or the girls and women who worked with and for me what to "look out for" and to be careful about "what they said or did" around certain members of the team and I actually though I was helping them, I thought I was doing a good thing.

Nobody was going to tell me what I could and couldn't do with my career because I was a female, it was me after all, BUT I was ignorant enough to think it applied to other's and that by telling them what to look out for I had done my due diligence.

boy was i wrong.

You see gender bias and sexual harassment, unfair treatment because of gender, race or anything else isn't something we should be "warning people about". It is something we should be speaking up about, talking about and eradicating from our workplaces but so many of us think it has nothing to do with us until...

that one day it happens to you. 

to be continued...

Read what happened on that day for me this Friday In the meantime check out the source articles below for some great reading on gender in the workplace.

junior high year book.jpg