Note: This post will probably offend some. How I process issues is by writing about them. If you are offended, please remember that this blog is an outlet for me. I am aware that each of us has different political preferences, and I 100% respect those differences – likewise, please respect me.
The Glass Ceiling
I have read so many stories and articles and listened to so many newscasters explain how the election turned out the way it did. I think that each opinion expressed, while having some decent points, misses a big one.
A common complaint about Hillary was that she was difficult to connect with, seemed aloof, and came across as not accepting her personal shortfalls and mistakes.
I would like to take a moment and give my take on the election and where I think this perception of Hillary came from.
Hillary is a woman. A woman who has been employed since the early 1970’s. While, I was not a member of the workforce in the 1970’s, I know that it looked starkly different than it does today.
I was raised in a Church where the glass ceiling was apparent – women could not be deacons, and certainly could not be a minister. While my male friends were asked of their career aspirations, often times I was asked how many children I wanted.
I have been employed since 2008 (in a profession – post college degree) and I have experienced situations where I had to be more qualified that a male counterpart to be given the same level of respect. I have had comments said to me that questioned my credibility, I believe partially because of my age at the time and because of my gender. I have been referred to as sweetie in meetings and have been asked who is taking care of my children when I am away from them.
Each comment, while seemingly harmless at the time, changed me slightly, especially early on. How they changed me was most likely not apparent to others around me, but, I would share a little less and remain extremely professional in order to be taken seriously. In addition, I was worried at times of admitting I made a mistake. Instead, I would hustle and attempt to correct my error before others became aware of it. I was worried that if others knew that I made mistakes, I would have to fight even harder for credibility.
Others that I have worked with have spoken about how in the 1980’s, in my same profession, women were asked to make coffee for the office, expected to present themselves in a certain manner and were referred to in cutesy terms (or worse).
Like me, and other women that came before, Hillary has had similar experiences as a woman in the workforce.
After becoming fascinated with space and space exploration, Hillary sent a letter to NASA in 1961 asking what she could do to become an astronaut, only to be told that no women were being accepted into the program.
Hillary lost an election for Senior class president at Maine East High School are was told by the winner that “you are really stupid if you think a girl can be elected president.”
I have directly benefitted by women that have fought for equality far before I became a member of the workforce. I think of them as I progress and wonder how their experiences are different from mine.
I can only imagine that if had to fight so hard during a 40+ year professional career, it may be very easy to come off as a bit unapproachable. You see, to be approachable, you have to accept a willingness to share and be transparent, and thus CONNECT with another person. As each comment creates a bit more of a self-created wall around yourself, you could easily become less and less approachable as the years pass.
Many have said that it was not that a woman should not become president, it was that she was the wrong woman (for many of the reasons that I listed above). What I would reply to that statement is that, while you may not have voted for the man over the woman candidate for that reason alone, gender did play a role in this election through 40+ years of building a wall that led a country to believe that Hillary was difficult to connect with, seemed aloof, and came off as not accepting her mistakes. Each of those characteristics/behaviors could come as a direct result of having to work so hard to be taken seriously.
I recently attended a parenting class and, the instructor said that, as parents, our instincts (especially in stressful situations or when tired) default to what we saw during our formative years. As parents consider other types of punishment (beside physical punishment or fear tactics), we move that bar for our children and then in stress or when tired, their default is a different place than ours was.
What Hillary did for women and little girls, was she moved the bar for all of us. That glass ceiling that I saw as a little girl is now higher than what it previously was.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank Hillary for fighting and trying and raising the bar for the rest of us. Even two steps forward and one-step back is still moving in the right direction. Some things are worth fighting for and equality is something that I will never stop fighting for.