Though I never affixed the badge to my lapel, I used to be a “feminist”. Well, sort of. I believe in “girl power”. I subscribe to the proven fact that women can and do offer a professional quality of work and skill equivalent to our male counterparts. In some instances our knowledge and deliverables are unmatched to our male colleagues. Yes, we women can give birth, care for our babies, our man, our homes, ourselves and everything else without skipping a beat in the workplace.
The reason that prompted this post was a story on the Internet about an “all woman” screening of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Normally, a story or event (innocent enough), would never give me reason to pause. Yet this one did.
Thinking back to how or why the Feminist Movement began, wasn’t breaking up the “old boys club”, chief among the mission critical objectives of there brave group of women? If this is true, then why the need for a female-only screening of a movie? Now, let me clarify, I am not saying or even suggesting that the female-only screening was organized by feminists. In fact, the screening could have very well been organized by or with the key contributions of men. I have no idea, honestly. Again, this post is not an endorsement or indictment about feminism or feminists. The story was a springboard for a larger conversation that I wanted to have about examples that I perceive as reverse hypocrisy. So with that, let’s move away from the topic of feminism, shall we? 🙂
The blurb also had me thinking about another personal observation around women supporting other women. Namely in the workplace as well as in other professional settings. We women have worked hard to break the proverbial glass ceilings that were and still are very real for many of us. Again, we have proven that we excel in support roles as well as in leadership positions. However, in my opinion, once some of us arrive in these key positions, how many of us forget where we came from?
How many us actively seek out another woman or women to mentor? How many of us were promoted by another woman and how often? Which yields a much broader and perhaps confrontational question: What is the point of being a successful woman who has worked her way to the top, only to remain the “only female (fill in the position title)” in the department or organization at the top? Moreover, if you are a woman with decision making authority or influence; you interview qualified males and females, do you seemingly find that more often than not, the male candidate was more qualified than his female peers? Are we more critical of another woman’s qualifications or experience and assess them against our own? Why do some of us feel that we “broke the mold” and therefore find it difficult to identify other female talent because no one adequately measures up?
These are difficult questions which will likely yield responses that are often labor intensive to authenticate and discern. I also believe that there are no absolutes.
And for the record, it is not my personal experience that women managers or decision makers are any less objective, or are significantly harsher critics than her male peers. Most women bring a natural level of empathy, individual consideration, and compassion to interviews and overall candidate assessments. Furthermore, the majority of women do not forget or have not forgotten where we have come from in our respective career paths. We have maintained high personal and corporate standards that through experience, we have become experts on what works and what doesn’t. And the last thing that any legitimate, qualified individual contributor or business person wants it to have his or her hard work diminished or marginalized by anyone. Male or female. Personally, I don’t want to be “given” any position or promotion that I did not legitimately earn through my experience and ability to perform the job well. The women in my professional and personal circle share these sentiments.
Thus, this post is not intended to make an argument to hire more women versus men on the sole premise of gender entitlement. Or reverse hypocrisy. My point is to collectively strive for a level playing field where all qualified candidates (regardless of gender) have an equal opportunity to excel.
As a professional woman, I concede that I must do more. I should be mentoring more women. I should be providing more resources and coaching to support women who want to advance in life and in business. I do not profess to be omniscient however, I can and should do more to help more women succeed. The latter point is not intended to exclude men; or by my definition qualify as reverse hypocrisy. It is a statement founded in my own observation that has observed a legitimate opportunity to empower more women to reach her intended career goals.
At the end of the day it’s about who is best qualified and which applicants experience and skill sets most closely match the key responsibilities of a position. My goal is to provide constructive insight and feedback to any candidate (regardless of gender), who solicits such information post interview.
As a society we should not become what we hate. If you despise discrimination or racism, do not perpetuate a mindset of divisiveness and actively engage in actions that directly oppress and marginalize another ethnic group (or gender) in favor of your own. It is possible to maintain a healthy sense of pride in one’s heritage, culture, gender, religion, values and personal choices without infringing on another’s inalienable rights or freedom of expression.