I owe my gender an apology. As a Gen X woman, I’ve benefited greatly from the 1970’s “feminist bra-burners” (no offense intended). The women that have come before me in the area of gender equality really stepped up. I’m a huge fan of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice. If you have not seen the documentary, RBG, please do watch it. I had no idea the work she did to advance women’s causes.
Another great resource, a book loaned to me by my 18-year-old daughter, is called Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri. Ms. Palmieri has a long resume of political communications director positions within the Democratic Party, with her latest being as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign communications chief. This book discusses her own realizations prompted by the experiences of that campaign—even stating that before that campaign she really didn’t feel like she had encountered much gender bias herself. She talks of TSAHIJDL, or “There’s Something About Her I Just Don’t Like”—that being a capable, intelligent, ambitious woman in a position of power. This bias is certainly an actual thing. It follows women who are told to “smile more” or be “more likeable” and, currently, “is a woman electable as President?”.
Over the years I’ve experienced some #MeToo moments, although we didn’t call it that then and we basically accepted the behavior. I’m grateful that we are in a time where my daughters will feel empowered to speak up and are growing up alongside young men who are being taught better. In fact, I think we are in a big moment. More women are moving into elected office than ever before. For the first time, women outnumber men in the workforce, particularly among college-educated workers. This NY Times article gives the current data and points out the continuing inequities.
As someone who’s fairly easily moved in careers in male-dominated industries—commercial lending, construction, commercial real estate, economic development—I’ve not spent a lot of time feeling indebted to the women who came before me. I’ll say here that I’ve taken it for granted and, shamefully, even at times discounted stories from women who’ve not been as fortunate. We still have a long way to go before equality is obtained, particularly for women of color. I’m all the way in the fight now. Join me.