Is 2018 the year that women are given the respect they deserve?
When I started out in the work world, it was a very different place than it is today for women. Women had extremely sharp elbows because there were only a few spots at the top and those who got there had to show that they were tougher than any man who was their peer. They did not reach back and pull the rest of us up, they essentially turned around once they got there and just looked forward. Things have certainly changed.
The playing field has not been equal. It begins early on through behavior perhaps even beginning with girls get pink and boys get blue as babies. Girls are told at an early age that if they aren’t good at something that they should try something else. Boys are told to keep on trying no matter what. It is these subtle (or maybe not so subtle) directions that become embedded early on.
Why certain men find it ok to belittle women through their words and sexual harassment from the playground to electricians to corporate positions to founders of start-ups is beyond me. That includes being interrupted by a man at a meeting, being dismissed for their ideas, or not believing that women know the answer.
Gender lines are becoming blurred. Married couples are sharing responsibilities in different ways and not falling into past gender roles where the woman stays home and the man goes to work. All sexual orientations are being embraced. Women are speaking up and the ones that have said something about unacceptable behavior in the workplace are of the age where growing up they were told they could be anything they wanted to be. They are looking at the landscape of bad behavior (this includes a different paycheck) and shaking their head and opening their mouths. The long tail of that is men and women are getting behind them. Women are mentoring the generation behind them by giving them a hand to succeed and move up the ladder alongside them. Women are applauding each other and cheering each other on. It is refreshing.
In the 1950’s, women had few job opportunities. They were either a teacher, nurse, secretary, or a Mom and of course, there were a few who broke out of those jobs but not enough. That has changed dramatically in the past 60+ years. Now the world is a women’s oyster and with that, I am hoping that this will be the year that women are given the respect we deserve which means our voices are just as loud and revered at any table we choose to sit at.