In 2012 there were only 20 women CEO’s of the Fortune 500. TWENTY. It is really unfathomable to me that women continue to struggle with inequality in the workplace. On a daily basis men are given kudos for parenting “when they can get away” or making a lewd joke or they get to apologize for asking an inappropriate question about a woman’s private life. The core of this begins with the male ego and their inability to separate the women beyond the two categories of Madonna (those they will marry) and Whore (those they will fuck). There are no other categories to put a successful woman who is often steadfast (bitchy) headstrong (bitchy) and empathetic (emotional). I have often been told that I am just “against” men. I don’t care for men who treat women in certain ways – that’s true. I have seen “the boys club” ruin careers. I’ve seen rumors and innuendo ruin more. It would be nice if we could elevate beyond these childish and sexist views. We are the Americans that care about equality of all races, creeds, sexual orientation but we still struggle with the adage of “he doesn’t work well with women” or “she has a problem with authority – she probably has daddy issues”.
We worry about the whales and the polar bears and the honey bee. We write letters to the editor about recycling and certifying organic vegetables. We call the school a thousand times to make sure our student excels. But, we don’t talk enough about how few women in leadership roles are memorable or commemorated in the media and by ourselves. No one wants to be Hillary Clinton, and that’s a shame. Sarah Palin is a perfect example of how we judge people on looks before we judge them on merit. The message is skewed when girls who are pretty are taught to find a man and women who are not pretty are told they are smart.
I feel this most candidly on my recent move for a new job. I literally chanted to myself almost every day that I am ok. I rationalized my weekends with my kids 1000 different ways. If I were a man no one would think twice about me commuting for work. Men are seen as the worker, the business traveler, the one who can be excused from parenting. I heard over and over that it must be so difficult for me. “The kids need their mom” is an uneasy conversation with your Business Manager. I have watched men work far away from their kids. I never asked them if they wanted to cry or if it broke their heart. We do what we need to do.
The door. I have noticed that the single most interesting physical observation of this point is when I open my own door. It’s 2013 right? I have always opened my own door and held it for the people behind me. I notice that most powerful men struggle with this. And those with steadfast beliefs will literally wait for me to proceed through the door before allowing me to hold it open. On a recent business trip my boss offered to carry my bag. I turned to him and said if I was a guy would you say that? It burns in me that it’s true- I want my son to grow up chivalrous. But I want my daughter to open her own door. That is a the nono please go ahead conundrum.