Thursday, September 24, 2009
Will We Ever Get There?
I'm a part-time stay-at-home mom, part-time working mom. In addition to working on starting G is 4 Girl, I have a day job (one that pays the bills) at my family's business, a printing company.
I've been there for over 10 years and now know the business inside and out. While there are more and more female printing business owners and leaders in our industry, I think it's fair to say it's still male-dominated. Some of the men I encounter in day-to-day operations still harbor some odd ideas of how to treat and respond to women in the workplace.
Example: while acting as the head of our company, I encountered a vendor who came through our front door and well, I guess took a liking to me, in a sense. He proceeded to make comments to me that he never would make to a male. He started off with the whole "hey, sweetie," attitude, which is one thing, but the next incident was entirely another: He was there to pick up one of our machines to return it to our leasing facility. When I said he might have trouble getting through a narrow corridor, he mentioned he's never had a problem with narrow spaces because he's well-endowed (he used more colorful language than that, but I'll spare you the details).
He said this as he was exiting our facility, and I was so shocked, I just stood there wondering what on earth had just happened.
Most males I encounter in business are not like this. Most treat women as equals and with respect. Though incidents like these still do happen. And inequalities still exist. Most of the people placing orders with us are executive assistants and 95% of them are women. Most of the business cards we print with titles such as "CEO," "President," or "Vice-Anything," have male names above them.
Yes, we have come a long way. I thank my mother, her generation, and the generations of women who came before us for paving the way and expanding our rights to be equal to that of men. But we still have a ways to go. I hope that in 20 years when my daughter enters the workforce, tales such as these will be nothing more than outdated memories of the way things used to be.
That's one reason I started G is 4 Girl. Girls may encounter situations that make them feel inferior. We need to instill in them a belief and confidence to know that derogatory statements made to them are garbage. That they really can do amazing things and that their achievements can equal those of any male. I believe it. Hopefully all girls believe it too. And maybe, someday, no one else on this planet will take further convincing.
For more ways to inspire girls, check out this awesome organization started to help inspire girls to be strong, Girls Inc.