And if it happens to you….

I rarely speak of my former job. It’s mostly out of loyalty for those that gave me a chance and believed in me. I rewarded that belief with my very best effort and my intelligence and ambition. I did well there. It was a male-dominated place and I ended up being a woman in charge. I made it that far because I worked hard and understood I’d need to work harder, learn more, and run circles around the boys. It wasn’t fair, but I did it all.

I worked my way to manager and still faced hoards of sexism. To be fair, it was blind sexism. They didn’t realize they were sexist; they just had preconceived ideas of what women did at the company.

The vast majority of women there were receptionists (which is where I started), admin assistants, accountants. Essentially, the women were those that kept everything going while the men were in meetings and golfing and “building relationships.”

I became a manager due to a man who had integrity and knew I did too. He became a Vice President while I remained a sales coordinator. This man decided to place me with the company as the manager of finance because he knew I had integrity and would not bow to pressures to sacrifice what is right for what makes money.

It was never spoken of, however; why I ended up where I did. Rumors were rampant there for any female with any power. We never spoke of why I landed in my position. But, it was mutual respect.

So, here’s what happened:

The vast majority of men realized I was there for good reason. The majority of women looked up to me and saw me as encouragement that they could make it in the company.  They’d talk to me; pull me aside at meetings and ask me how to make it. They’d email me and ask for my help when they’d apply for promotions. I championed them all in an effort to make leadership equality a reality at my male-dominated workplace.

So, what happened? Why did I leave?

I left because the entire time I was fighting a silent battle. Well, it wasn’t always silent. I fought discrimination with HR. I fought and won. But, they wouldn’t fire the discriminators. They’d just tell me I was right and send them to “communication classes”. Which made them hate me that much more.

I got a raise, bonuses, and everything I asked for that had been handed to the men without asking. But, it only made those that wanted me out more sneaky.

See? I will not sacrifice integrity for a paycheck. I’d prefer to look myself in the mirror and like what I see, but in a world that runs on money, I am not wanted regardless of how smart I am.

I told a female co-worker once about the hoops I had to jump through to get where I was when I was a manager. Her eyes flooded and she said:

“And if it could happen to you, imagine what the rest of us are going through.”

At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to “lean in” when you aren’t invited to the table.

5 thoughts on “And if it happens to you….

    1. Nope. It was a company wide issue that I tried like hell to change, but I couldn’t do it alone and because we rarely spoke to each other (as women), it became an even larger problem. I gave up.


      1. Julie S – never give up my friend. The thing you are looking for is ALWAYS in the last place you look! Right?

        Don’t give up on people, don’t give up on women. We are all flawed and vulnerable. Take the high road and LEAD us all to the better place. You are young, strong and able!


  1. I want to say something here – but I don’t really know what to say!? I guess what I would say is —– Yep! That’s how it is. And like Julie did, one deals with it.

    If you think it’s going to be a fair deal – forget it. Whether you are the guy vying for the job or the women groveling for it – IT IS NEVER FAIR. So, don’t expect fair. Claim what you want, put the action behind it, be accountable, and cope. If you do that, like Julie did, you will achieve [whatever goal]. I accomplished some fairly lofty goals: a women who achieved Vice President role at age of 25 and held it for many years, with no college education and then was recruited by the world’s largest consulting firm and went on to work there for more than 11 years. Am I bragging – no, just stating the facts. Am I prideful? No – just earned it. Like Julie S said above ‘a company wide issue I tried like hell to change, but couldn’t do it alone. Alone is the keyword here.

    No man or woman ever does it alone. No successful person did it by their own sweat. You have to work together, communicate for action, and make shit happen together.

    OK – my 2 cents. Put action behind the things you say and shit will happen.


  2. OK Julie – you have to write more. How about the times we were passed over in raises? Or, the times we helped a coworker who took the credit? Or, the time we were late coming back from lunch by 10 minutes and got in trouble, even though we were there 1/2 hour early and never took a morning break? Or, how about the time we had an idea in a meeting (that we told a friend about) and that same friend put it forth as their idea???? OMG – that is the business world that I experienced! How about you? Or anyone else? [BTW – in the end teamwork strategies won out for the individual who made it happen!]


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