- Posted March 12, 2013 by
Anytown, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Work and family: Making it work
"Lean In"? Watch Out Because Someone May Pull That Chair Out From Under You.
As a former working mother in an upper management position in the male dominated world of Engineering, I had it all: a high salary, a leadership position managing over 100 employees, a happy family with three kids in private school and a supportive husband. Facebook's Sanberg is wrong: the issue isn't about the need for more women to lean in. We're leaning in all the time. The real issue is about women who do lean in getting the support they deserve from their male (and female) colleagues and superiors without having to compromise their values. To be female in a male dominated world means you must "play the game": laugh at the guys' sexual jokes, put in long hours away from your family (because, after all, that's what the men who have their wives at home are doing), trump up their egos, put up with comments about your hair color or the size of your breasts, and never, EVER complain of sexual harrassment. Lean in all you want, but be prepared for someone to pull the chair out from under you.
With my doctorate degree and my superior leadership skills, I had more than earned and deserved the position in management, yet those who reported to me whispered that I only got the job because I was in a perceived relationship with the boss. My contemporaries believed my boss favored me because it appeared I was "kissing up". The fact is, I had the chance to lead, but I never had the support I needed to show what I could accomplish because at every turn, I was busy being held back by stereotypes and rumors from below. And the view above wasn't even close to supportive either. Even my VP failed to consider me as the professional leader I was trying so hard to be. Not only did he try to to kiss me on a business trip (and when I refused his advances, wouldn't talk to me the remainder of the trip), he humiliated me in front of million-dollar clients during a business dinner by blurting out my refusal. The male president of the company, who witnessed the incident brushed it all aside, leaving me to file a claim with HR. When the good ole' boys circled the wagons, I found myself out of a job.
We are all consumers; there are many who want enough money for a house and some vacation time, a good school and decent clothes for their kids, and food in our stomachs. Women work to help provide for themselves and their families, and oh, by the way, because we like using our brains to contribute to society...just like men. The only difference between me doing my job and a man doing the same job is a bit of unrelated anatomy.
In 2013, it should bother everyone on this planet that a woman is paid less to do the same work as a man. In 2013, it should bother everyone that the expectations placed upon a woman to perform are greater than those expected of a man. But, hey...let's not forget that in 2013, right now, women are being strip-searched in Egypt because they dared protest; girls are being shot in Afghanistan because they dared to go to school; women are being gang raped in India because they got on a bus; and women aren't being protected from murderous "boyfriends" everywhere.
Until little boys are taught by their parents that little boys AND little girls have a right to education, to free religious thought, to work equally for equal pay, and to live free of violence, then the conversation about working women "having it all" will continue into eternity.