We had Thanksgiving visitors and the subject came up that my cousin didn’t get a movie role, as it was given to a man instead. The role did not specify the gender or be a certain ethnicity or race. Just that it be a person of a certain age.
That discussion then devolved into workplace discrimination between men and women.
I’m a white female and I’ve worked in environments that were more male-dominated and I have my share of stories.
I know what it is like to walk into a boardroom and have one of the men ask me if there is coffee.
I know that if I’m up against a man for the same job and we are equal in all ways, chances are I won’t get it.
I’ve even heard people at one place where I worked say that women were incapable of being tech analysts and why did the company even hire us. We were tokens and nothing more, they said. Our work was not serious and should not be judged as such.
But, even just getting back to being female in the world, I’ve actually raised awareness when I’ve shared that as a woman, I’m much more aware of my surroundings even just walking down the street or especially in a parking lot.
The men were surprised.
Imagine, then, if I were women of color? How much more would I endure walking into the board meeting? How much more difficult would it be to compete for a job?
There is no such thing as the world being fair, but as women we are much more aware of the lack of fairness than men. Especially white men.
The Wall Street Journal tells it this way: “Data show that men win more promotions, more challenging assignments and more access to top leaders than women do. Men are more likely than women to feel confident they are en route to an executive role and feel more strongly that their employer rewards merit.”
I could have told you that and so could many of my working women friends.
I found out quite by accident that a man, who was hired after me and was more junior and wrote fewer research notes, got a promotion a step above me? The HR person, another woman, was as outraged as I. She went to bat for me and suggested unless the company wanted to avoid a sex discrimination suit, they immediately promote me as well.
Unfortunately, my promotion didn’t feel as good as it should have.
It’s a sad state of affairs that not much has changed in the past 50 years.
According to a piece in the Brookings Gender Equality Series, “The gap in earnings between women and men, although smaller than it was years ago, is still significant; women continue to be underrepresented in certain industries and occupations; and too many women struggle to combine aspirations for work and family.”
I’m no longer in the workforce the same as I was several years ago, but I still see the same issues around me and certainly remember the issues that affected my status at those companies and jobs.
Sadly, not much has changed for my female colleagues who still work there.