Our first female presidential candidate just accepted her nomination last night from a major political party, and I know it’s an amazing moment in our country’s history, but I’m not ready to cheer yet. Countries all over the world, even ones that are “less developed” than us, are already familiar with having women serve as their leader. We’re behind, and even with this great moment, we’re still behind.
I want to share with you an email exchange from today:
If you’re thinking, “Dang, why so sensitive?”, then this blog post is for you.
Having made my career in the technology space as a young, minority woman, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexist comments. When I was even younger, I let them slip by because honestly, I didn’t realize they were sexist. I didn’t understand how damaging it could be to my worldview, confidence, and perceptions. I’m done with that.
A bit of background on this interaction:
My business partner and I were connected to D here through a mutual professional contact, and we were approaching this as a business inquiry. In the introductory phone call, and in one other email instance, my partner and I were acknowledged or addressed as “girls” by a man who was not much older than us. Sexism aside, how is this even professional? Is that how you would engage with your prospects if you were trying to win their business? I am not your buddy, your “girl”.
We’re not playing tag on the playground right now. I haven’t given you any indication that I’m 12 years old. “Girls” is offensive not because I’m insulted at my gender, but because you’re using my gender to insult me. I am a woman, and that does not give you permission to speak down to me. I don’t think this was the person’s motivation, but as my self-proclaimed feminist friend Krystie puts it, “lack of awareness or consciousness is not an excuse.”
Annoyed, I told a few in my close circle about it. My strong-willed female friends, of course, told me it was the right thing to do. What shocked me was a response I got from a male that it was a little rude on my part and that it was probably “just a mistake”.
This was what really got me fuming.
“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”―Bette Davis
This was not a mistake, nor was this deliberate. This is decades of unconscious signals that has somehow taught women to be less assertive and threatening and has taught men that women are this way.
I will not apologize for voicing my discomfort, and more women and men need to support each other when it comes to creating a healthy environment to say “Hey, this isn’t ok.” It might make the other person feel embarassed, but by saying something you can prevent another woman from feeling uncomfortable in the future.
Women of today still have big battles to fight to break through the glass ceiling. If you’re not in our corner, then GTFO.
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” — Madeleine Albright
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