There is an odd melancholic of sorts as I wrestle with the male/female positions in society. I am not sure whether I am truly observing it as I am, or if my own prejudiced, my own personal experiences are tainting what I see. I see women as one’s who see themselves as victims, with feelings of less-than, weakness, subordinate. I hear about the wage differences between men and women, and I question whether it is because we truly are devalued by the employer or whether we have this false sense that this is the only way I will get the job? Often times, is it not in the best interest of a company to get as much as they can for the least amount of cost? And do we not succumb to that offer out of fear of not getting the job at all and our families suffering all the more?
I have worked in a male dominate environment for over two decades. Often times I see other women as wish-washy or non-confrontational. I, myself had been that way for way too long. Somehow I had believed that eventually my work would be recognized, that I did not need to “blow my own horn”, so to speak. I have left great opportunities on the table, walking away from jobs because I felt that I had been passed over one too many times…never once trying to claim my own victories in the scheme of what had transpired. Almost a year ago I was in a bad place at work…between my own ears, anyway. I was angry that my wage was not equivalent to the male counterparts I worked with and trained on a daily basis. I contemplated my old way of doing things, get mad, not say anything to anyone, and when I got to the point of boiling over, I was going to quit. I ran this “great idea” by one of my co-workers who actually knew what I did for the company, but was over a different department. Then he asked me this crazy, off the wall question: “Well, have you shared what you are doing with your manager?”, he asked. I looked at him like he was nuts! Never in a million years had ever thought to do such a thing. I argued with him, “but he should KNOW what I am doing! I should not have to write it all out on paper for him!” Calmly, my male co-worker explained to me that often times these kind of things go unnoticed because things ARE running so smoothly. “OK”, I told him, “sure, I will put something together and present it to him, but I doubt it will make a difference.”
For the next few days I pulled together all the things I had done over the years to contribute to the company. Things I had fixed, policies I had created or changed to help the company run smoother, training I had provided for our parent company to help bring key quality points to the forefront. Once I had completed it, I was actually kind of surprised by what I had accomplished with this company. I asked my co-worker to read over what I had written, and he made a few minor changes to my layout and advised I schedule a meeting with my manager to go over this.
Man, did I dread that! Because of all the beliefs I had built up in my head about the gender bias, I had already “heard” all of my managers arguments rehearsed in my head. Imagine my shock and surprise when, as we were going through my bullet points, he constantly nodded his head in agreement! Stopping me at some points and asking questions, not realizing that I had been the person behind those improvements and changes that had helped the company’s bottom line. We had a very good discussion and my contributions were fairly evaluated and acknowledged with the fair and equal compensation I had requested. It was in this moment that I suddenly realized that my biggest obstacle all this time had been me! The melancholy between my own ears had been what had been getting in my way this whole time. Some lie I had learned somewhere along the way had been my downfall…but the truth has been my rising!
I welcome your feedback and your experiences.