Google+ Badge

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Equality, kinda Now

For the first time in my career I'm experiencing sexism. Considering this career period of time spans over a decade, that's pretty darn lucky and for that I'm grateful.

It's a very challenging position to be in, as I do not enjoy conflict and would have difficulty saying anything. I'm not going to divulge the details of the situation here as I don't feel it's professional (though extremely tempting to vent).

It's been months now of showing that I work hard, show up early and stay late if necessary and can do what is asked of me. Yet the situation remains the same. I have so much professional knowledge I'd like to contribute yet there is never opportunity. So I begin to feel like less of a professional and occasionally question my expertise in the field for which I was hired. That's fear doing the thinking; fear of judgement, failure, etc. But I digress.

This situation caused me to do a little feminism research because I realize my position could be SO MUCH worse. The women who first fought discrimination had such a harder trail to blaze.

Yet these stereotypes persist. People would rather talk to a man in IT than a woman in IT, at least in my current environment. Prior work experience at a university was a wonderful example of equality in gender treatment. The IT women I met there inspired me and taught me so much.

We are now in the third wave of feminism, in response to the backlash and failings of the 60s/70s feminist movement. There isn't one all-encompassing idea for this but rather an attempt to cohesively examine all the changes, complications and diversity.

Many women (sometimes myself included) don't want to refer to themselves as feminists because of the negative stereotype that term conjures up for many men. But all that really means is equality of genders; equal treatment between men and women. I don't want special privileges, I simply want to be as respected as my colleagues.

The reason for this post is to vent slightly and an attempt to get it out of my system and move on. Each moment has the potential to be better than the last and feeling offended and hurt is just going to perpetuate the problem.

Rather than feeling hostile and bitter, I choose to examine my approach and what I might do to command the respect tactfully. It helps to remember past employment to a time when I felt very valued; and critically examine my skills, how I might improve and where I have strengths. Sometimes it even takes an affirmation internally (corny as it may seem): "I am a knowledgeable, savvy, versatile woman with a myriad of skills to offer."

It also helps to remember the people who do stand up for equality and to support organizations such as Equality Now. This is Joss Whedon's charity of choice (those who read this blog should understand my Whedon obsession :) and his considerable fan-base participate yearly raising money for this charity.
In his famous Equality Now tribute he responds to the question he gets asked the most:
"So, why do you write these strong women characters?
Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and women who’s confronted with it. We need equality, kinda now."

I'm working to examine my stereotypes and encouraging you to do the same. Not just about women but about EVERY group we label with certain terms or attitudes. Equality begins with the belief that we all have the same basic wants and needs in life and are deserving of having those needs met. We can't change others but we can change ourselves and work to understand the root of these conflicts.

"We often think the only way to create happiness is to try to control the outer circumstances of our lives, to try to fix what seems wrong or to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the real problem lies in our reaction to those circumstances. What we have to change is the mind and the way it experiences reality." ~Chagdud Rinpoche


  1. this is an interesting article in how to deal with negativity in the workplace:

  2. Sorry to hear you are going through this honey! You are intelligent, talented, and capable, and if they can't see that, it's their problem, not yours! I don't think internal affirmations are corny... they're something that we all (especially women) need to do sometimes, and I wish I remembered to do them more often. Sometimes I feel like my insecurity/negative thoughts are holding me back career-wise more than anything else!

  3. thanks Ann :) (((hugs))) I would never guess you're insecure with how much you perform at open mics and such.