We all know that there are some professions out there that are completely male dominated, right? Like banking or working on Wall Street or being an attorney. Yes, there are wonderful women working in those professions, but if you work in one of those professions you often find yourself surrounded by men, and older men at that. Not only is it hard to speak to older men who are of the Good Old Boy Club, but it is hard to feel welcome.
The other day one of my Facebook friends (who shall remain anonymous) posted this:
“Dear Male Attys in their 50s: No, I am not the paralegal. Yes I am under 30 and female. Please do not call me sweetheart and do not say ‘just between the girls.’ As a warning, I do not respond well to bullying or manipulation. And, by the way, I’m not a -itch if I object or question something you do that I believe is inappropriate under the rules of civil procedure. I’m just doing my job. Thank you. Truly Yours, Esq.”
At first I read this and thought, wow, she must have had a bad day, but then the more I thought about it the more I thought, Good for you!! I have to give it to her – she spoke her mind and said what a lot of young women were thinking – that they arn’t respected just because they are young women in their profession.
How many of you out there have been in a situation in which someone assumes, just because you are young, that you are a secretary or an assistant or the lowly intern? How many of you have found that just because you are young your opinions are not respected? How many of you think that just because you are young your older colleagues try to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do? How many of you have been in a meeting and suggested something only to have the older men laugh and push it aside?
This has happened to me quite a few times in my short career, and I have to admit that when it does happen it is sort of embarrassing. It makes me feel like maybe I am not worthy of being in the profession I am in or that I am not worthy of having other people respect my work. And having to explain to people that you aren’t the intern and are actual an attorney or a broker or a counselor or a doctor is awkward. And then they look at you with a scrunched forehead and their head tilted to the side as if they can’t possible comprehend how you could possibly be in the position thar you’re in.
And when this happens all you want to do is scream at the top of your lungs, “Yes, I am a young woman, but I am a _________, so respect me!”
I know that everyone has to pay their dues and has to put in the time before respect is given, I get that, but people can’t just assume that because you have a young face or because you’re attractive or because you are female that you are the secretary. I think that sometimes, just sometimes, people should respect you and remember that they were once in your position.
Any of you have similar experiences in your professions?