There really is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women. At least I hope there is.
A friend – my friend from 7th grade, Cynthia E, whom I found on Facebook after not seeing her for how many years? I am 56 and we found each other a few years ago and hadn’t seen each other since the end of 8th grade, when my family moved from Lubbock, where my dad had been stationed at Reese AFB, to the Panama Canal Zone – asked what I write about on my blog.
“Things that piss me off,” I told her.
And that’s what I’m writing about now.
I avoid the topic of work on my blog not because work is not important but because I live in a state of fear that I will be discovered and I will lose my job, which I do not do as a hobby, because of something I said.
But I have come to realize that my VP wants me gone anyhow so hey what do I have to lose, right?
Here’s the deal. I don’t expect special treatment for being a woman.
But I also don’t expect the Mean Girl treatment.
Until a year ago, one of the great joys of my job was that I worked with almost all engineers, almost all of whom were men.
That is, I worked with people who were all about the facts and had no interest in DRAMA. No drama. There was no drama. None. From anyone.
And then we got a new CEO.
Who brought in his team.
Including this VP, who created a new group into which I was annexed and suddenly, I was working for this woman who has decided that we are all back in 7th grade and we are freezing people out and we have favorites and not favorites and it is a bloody nightmare.
Until this new VP showed up, I made it my mission to highlight and elevate the women at work whenever possible. We have super smart men and women in this company but I have to admit I am just a tiny bit biased toward the women. And especially the younger women – I want to make sure they get as much support as possible. I want to smooth their way as much as I can. I want them to thrive.
I organize networking events for them. When I need to quote someone or interview someone, I seek a woman.
When possible, I advise them not to help with potlucks or party planning. I told my intern one summer, “Unless you see the men helping set up and clean up from a potluck or company event, don’t you dare volunteer. And don’t bring brownies or cookies to work. You need to be known as Liz, that fabulous mechanical engineer, not as Liz that cute girl who bakes.”
I want the women I work with to be respected and acknowledged as professionals.
You guys, I don’t want to brag, but I am pretty badass. I have made money for every company I have ever worked at. And I have done it, in most cases, by coming up with new ideas and then convincing a group of people to work with me to implement those ideas.
That is, even without authority, I can lead a team to solve a problem that I have identified. And I can quantify the results.
I have done that at my current job. When my previous boss – the Good Boss at this job – first interviewed me, he realized I did not qualify for the job I had applied for.
So he re-wrote the job description so he could hire me.
I am badass.
I came in and did cool things that made things better. I did that for years.
And then this new VP came in and a bunch of us got re-orged and she decided she didn’t really want to know what I do and made up her mind about me and suggested in one meeting that I be in charge of – like, as part of my job – organizing the division’s potlucks.
She also had thought of having me report to my 30 year old co-worker.
Yes. It’s like that.
And I ask myself almost every day, “What did I ever do to you?”
And I think, “If you had just asked, I would have helped make you shine. Because all I want to do is get the job done.”
And I want to say, “If you had just said, ‘Join me! Let’s work together and do great things!’ I would have said, ‘Yes! Let’s go!'”
She has done this to all the women who are older than she is. Rather than use us as allies, she has decided we are her enemies. She has shunned us.
She seems to be unaware that someday, she will be the Older Woman.
* Thank you, Marsha Calhoun, for that brilliant line.