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Sales and marketing professional starts own business to escape years of sexist treatment

This working mother has 13 years experience in sales and marketing for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. Here, in her own words, she shares her story about how being a woman in a man’s field has been a constant challenge, and how she copes with sexism in her industry.

What I do
I don’t feel quite old enough to say that I have been doing my job for 13 years, but I have been. My title has varied from Marketing Communications Specialist to Business Development Manager. There was a point when I put a lot of significance in the title that I held, but the truth is it’s all the same. I am a sales and marketing professional who specializes in the dying industry that once was architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C).

Professional services marketing is quite different than business to consumer marketing. Essentially I sell people, or expertise. The process by which they are sold is different than potato chips at a convenience store. Gimmicks and coupons can make you buy that bag of Lays™, even when your thighs don’t need them, but there is absolutely nothing that I can do to make you, or your company, build a building. Professional services marketing is relationship based. It requires friendship development over years, and it comes down to the best written proposal, and the expert’s finesse in an interview. So that’s what I do: I make friends with decision makers, I submit proposals on design and construction projects, and I train experts to speak well in an interview.

Mothers are the hardest critics
There is a group of mothers at my daughter’s elementary school that I have known for five years; they hate me. On rare occasion I have mingled with them at kid’s birthday parties and felt that uncomfortable guilt that lingers right after you interrupt them talking bad about you. Recently I was told their collective distaste originated with my flirtation with their husbands. For the record: their husbands are middle aged bald men, who drive mini vans, and gave up independent thought when they walked down the aisle. The thought of flirting with them makes me nauseous, but I get it. Embarrassingly, I realize that it is with the fathers that I am most comfortable. I fit in with the men. I have been in this career for 13 years, and it has been that long since I have worked with a woman.

I learned to play golf for my job. I curse. I laugh at bawdy humor. I smoke cigars. I can drink whiskey all night if I need to. Yet, I have never mowed the grass. I have never gone to Walmart in my sneakers or without make up. I can do nearly anything in high heels. I am the woman that threatens mothers at children’s birthday parties.

Inside I would love to tell those women how hard it is to be in a man’s world, but how does one start that speech when one is simply not regarded? They formed their impressions and opinions of me, would the fight to change them be worth it?

Thirteen years ago, I thought feminism was dead. The eternal optimist in me said, “my generation is different.” However, when you are the only woman in an industry that boys have been apprenticing for since they got their first Lego set™, you learn that there are still causes to triumph.

Sexism at the office
If those ladies knew how often my gender has become an issue at my job they would look at me with pity. The truth is, there are too many occasions to recollect here. When I was younger, I didn’t know better. No one told me that having your 70 year old boss have you twirl to see your skirt from all angles, or have him standing too closely behind you while you typed was not an accepted practice in all industries. I would like to say that I took up those causes, stormed into HR, and that the old man lost his job, but I cannot. I learned to politely reject advances so as not to be perceived as a rebel rouser, but to protect my physical safety.

Years later I was at a regional sales and marketing conference in Las Vegas. After a day of long board room meetings with two VPs and a regional manager we were to have a nice dinner. The men of course didn’t want to freshen up, but I asked if I could have a half an hour to change and get ready. The red headed Vice President, who hailed from Texas and towered over the others said, “What, you gotta go change into your slut clothes?” The others, both of whom were also so called Southern Gentlemen, laughed loudly at my expense. When I began to protest one of them actually slapped my back and said “come on, it was just a joke”. The red head whose trousers sat below his belly like the white fluff that oozes out of a marshmallow crème jar when you peel the lid back said, “what is it with women? The get a little bit of authority and they become such bitches.”

What they didn’t teach me in school
Remember how I told you that my title doesn’t mean much anymore? I think that is largely because no matter what my job was, manager or assistant, I was always the one told to fetch coffee. I drink tea myself, with one Splenda™ and milk. At most of the companies that I have worked at, I felt as if my words did not matter as much. I would be a very wealthy person if I was paid per interruption. There is an art to remembering exactly what it was that you were going to say after the men in the room have stopped arguing amongst themselves; I am great at it. For years, this disregard made me insecure about my credentials.

Educational background
My undergrad is in theater, and perhaps I am not as smart as the people I worked for. To compensate, I studied my rear off for the GRE. It was awful, but I survived and I finished my master degree in international communication. I was laid off the day after graduation. You have to wonder, did they all wait because they wanted a piece of my graduation party cake?

Still feeling insecure, I enrolled in a second masters program in PR and marketing, which I also completed, along with a certificate of advanced study. None of my education increased my earnings with any significance. Truthfully, my job is exactly the same; except now I am a quarter of a million dollars in debt.

Pay
Professional service marketers in the A/E/C industry make an average of $47,000 (based on my industry knowledge). This is nearly half of what professional proposal writers can earn outside of the industry.

Professional struggles of a mother
I have been laid off four times, twice when I was pregnant. My last layoff came after the employer found out that I had kids and was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough flexibility in my schedule to do the job. For the record, all of the male managers were also parents. Here is what they don’t understand and may never understand about me. I was a single parent who worked full time and completed two master degrees. I learned to speak Mandarin Chinese and I never give up.

My mother told me to choose my battles, and I used to stink at that, but not anymore. It has been 13 years. I tried marketing outside of the industry and it felt like I was an intern again. Outside of what I learned in grad school, I don’t understand coupons and specials. I know how to write proposals that win and keep architects and engineers employed in a dying industry.

Making my own path
I have my own company now. My job hasn’t changed, but the way that I function in the workplace is significantly different.

Today, I am hired to perform a specific action and to provide a certain deliverable. I don’t get people coffee unless they are my guest, and I don’t work with barbaric men who have no manners. There are challenges to be sure, but I have a strong client base. When I speak, people listen.

I won’t pretend that I am rolling in it. My income hasn’t really changed, but I am happy. My best customer is a woman owned civil engineering firm. This firm is all women and is the only group I know that is thriving. While their competition is downsizing they are seeing record profits. I love watching them win over and over again. They inspire me.

Having your own business is challenging; there are all-nighters and times when you make a lot less than you expected during a pay period. However, the rewards are great. I get to meet my children at the bus stop on most days. I have surrounded myself with a team of talent that I envy. My office has non-stop laughter. Ideas are welcome and arguments happen that lead to progress.

We do great work.

I never knew that it could be like this. For years, I doubted that I was capable. How lovely it is to be wrong.

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62 comments

  • Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I recently formed my own human resources consulting company and my last and final corporate crash and burn. I know that I have a challenge ahead of me by starting my own business. Your article is inspiring.

  • Truly inspiring! I love a strong woman, especially one who cut her teeth in a male dominated industry. She overcame the odds and sought independence, despite the incertainty. The stars in the upper right of this comment went haywire, my comments and opinion are all above board positive.

  • Wow… This lady just put me back on my
    toes. I too am a mother and I currently work in the marketing industry for an
    office owned by two demanding men. On more than one occasion I have sat back
    and thought about ways to be independent and own my own business and that is
    where i find myself today back in school getting the education i need to make
    my dream a reality. Not very many females are strong enough to make the step
    and take the risk of owning your own business, but if you never try you will
    never know. Life is to short to live it by others rules and expectations. Live
    it to its fullest take risks and enjoy everyminute of every day! Thanks!

  • This story is truely inspirational to me, I am a mother of 2 and looking for work. When I went on interviews they like to bring up my kids as a excuss;asking endless question. Which made me think about opening my own business as being a mother see to weakness in womans chracter in the business world.
    This story show motivation and is inspirational.

  • Women in the work force have always been to odd one out, but this story gives me hope. I too want to have my own business so I am not harassed by male coworkers and I do not have to worry about being laid off for the simple reason that I have a family.

  • The women in this article has certainly got to be my clone! Her words are my life almost verbatim.
    She states: “No one told me that having your 70 year old boss have you twirl to see
    your skirt from all angles, or have him standing too closely behind you
    while you typed was not an accepted practice in all industries.”

    No one told me either…I simply worked my entire life making the same amount of money for seriously 30 years. No matter how hard I worked, regardless of my intelligence and any training and experience I had, if my boss was a male my job was to get coffee and put up with innuendos. If my boss was a woman she hated me openly and diligently because I wore high heels, I am intelligent, I like feeling good which in turn gives me a desire to take care of myself. For some reason other women don’t like that and when I left the room I could guarantee I would be the topic of conversation and it would be digging a hole for me rather than saying something nice.

  • This story hits home with me. I currently work in the banking industry handling customer service issues. I have been at my job for 5 years and have not had a raise in 3. Last March I was given a new manager who constantly flirted with me over Instant messenger and email. I am lesbian so I shrugged it off because I work from home full time, however my level of discomfort with him has shown dramatically in my performance levels. I ended up on leave of absence last summer for knee surgery and when I came back to work i had to work in the office and when he saw me I wasn’t what he expected (my voice apparently doesn’t match my appearance). I wear mens’ clothes and have short hair. I am in no way shape or form a feminine person, nor do I wear revealing clothes, so he has been threatening to have me fired and is doing everything in his power to make me lose my job. I have since accepted a schedule where I will work four ten hour shifts to decrease the time he has available to harass me.

    I have reached out to co-workers and other managers and was advised that my current manager is the type who will make up a reason for termination if i go to Human resources to complain. I am currently halfway through my college classes to get my Associates in Elementary education, where I am certain I will face even more struggles based on my appearance. I have two daughters, a wife, three dogs, a full time job, a part time job, and a college education, yet society is concerned with how I look. It’s a shame!

  • I do not have memory of writing this article. With that said, I totally relate to this. I have been in the sales/ marketing game for 13 years as well. I’m not in A/E/C but I am in a man’s world. I’m in the timeshare industry. I am what you would consider a rare find in this type of sales industry. I have done all sides of it and know it inside out.
    I started in this industry when I was 19 years old. I was the only female sales manager and just as the article stated my job title meant nothing when it came to having to shop for supplies or “fetch” the coffee. I’m a divorced/ remarried mother of 4 and I too have a club at my children’s school that hates me. I find it hard to keep friends because when it’s just the “girls” and me everything is great. It’s when I get invited someplace where their husbands are that things fall in the crapper.
    I learned to play golf, curse like a sailor, keep up with sports, tell inappropriate jokes, and drink whiskey. The only thing I don’t do is smoke. It is easier for me to hang out with the guys because I am one of the guys. As I am getting older I realize how inappropriate my work place is. Any normal female would have owned the company by now.
    I have been a success in this industry but it has come with a price. I recently switched to another timeshare company and feel misplaced. My goal is to advance myself into a place where people can look at my achievements and not what I look like. I still don’t work with very many women but the ones that I do work with I try to challenge them to beat the boys. And just as the article stated when they do I smile on the inside.

  • Thanks for sharing your story. There are so many woman in this world that face this type of behavior on a daily bases but their stories go unheard. As women we must take a stance and allow these industries to know that we are smart and intelligent women that will not allow this to take place any longer. I am a single mom myself and your story have inspired me to fulfill my dreams and that it is never to late to accomplish your desires in life.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I do not work in the industry that you do but I work for a health care industry, more specifically, in the laboratory. This industry too is dominated my men. I started off as a regular madical technologist and have moved my way up to implementation. I have had the same type of scenerios that you have. Men have stood too close for comfort sake, boss’ have dismissed my ideas more times than I would like to admit. The really good ideas have been used and given the credit to others. The list goes on and on as too all the battles I have faced as a woman. But I too have experienced the delight to see other women soar to the top and see the men respect her as they should. It is sad that most people think that just because a woman with a title that shows assertiveness is a bitch. I see all peers call the new VP one and she does her job well. I aspire to be her one day and hopefully be called one as well because I do my job well. Thank you for letting me know that battles have to be picked and choosen well.

  • This story is really inspiring. Not giving up as a woman is a sign of strength and getting passed the underestimation women undergo in general. I am a Marketing major college student, I really enjoyed your perspective of things and how far you have gone past challenges you went through. Thanks for a great story!

  • This story is incredibly powerful for women, and it certainly resonates with me. I am one of the few female students who is interested in sports marketing in my major, and as the Director of Marketing for my university’s Sports Business Association, I get a lot of “Why do you want to do that?” looks from men. Often times, I find myself trying to be left out of conversations between men about sports, but like the author of this article, when I speak people listen. I know exactly what I’m talking about, and I often find myself enlightening some men about sports-reated topics. I was inspired by the author’s strong will to suceed and rise above as well asher contentment with not only her career but with herself. This is a story that will help me continue to strive for respect and happiness in my future career.

  • I am sick and tired of the way some bosses get away with treating people terribly. I have been treated very bad in a lot of jobs and am so tired of it. That is why I am going to school. I need to make a difference in my life and to prove to those other people that I can do what ever I put my mind to. I have been working a year at my place of employment and have never missed a day of work and I work hard when I am there and I didn’t get a raise because my supervisor does not like me and gave me a bad review. I do not think that is right.

  • I’ve dealt with overt sexism and sexual harassment in the office. But what makes me most livid is the income discrepancy between male and female wages. I can’t believe our society is still at this place, and I’m working actively to fight it.

  • This story really inspires me. I am currently getting ready to start the first semester of my senior year of college. However, this year will be entirely different, I’m going in nine months pregnant. I work as a manager at a low paying fast food restaurant and have had to move to accommodate for child care. While reading this it really brought home the fact that whenever a customer asks to see the manager and is informed that i am the manager they just snicker and ask for the higher up manager. Yes there is a manager above me and yes that manager is a man and isn’t just the manager but the owner as well. This just really irks me because i’ve been working for him for 7 years now and am the second in charge yet no one believes that because i’m only 21. So this year i’m still there, pregnant and all telling them i’m the manager and actually getting somewhere because customers are opening up to the idea that someone young and female can actually handle a problem.

  • I can totally relate with this woman. This has happend to me for the last 10 years of my professional life. I used to sell insurance. I was a young woman with four children. When I finally found an insurance company to hire me I found the office to be full of men and non of them wanted to take the time to show me the ropes. I was 23 years old and set at making something of myself. I sat say after day in the office waiting for someone to help me find clients or cold call businesses something anything train me I thought to myself. finally I saw a stack of papers on my managers desk and I said what are those . He said dead accounts. He then explained to me that dead accounts were accounts that are open but no one had been in there for along time and there wasnt any existing clients to insure. So I asked if I could try some. And sure enough I reopened about 20 of those dead business accounts and out sold all the men int he office in my first year of insurance sales. I hit all of my goals and exceeded all of theirs. This is an inspiring story of the truth about women experience in the work place and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it.

  • I may not have been in the professional field as the individual in this story, but I do know what it is like from a personal experience, how people can be threaten by you because of your education, and because of the fact that you are a woman. For me the harassment and the sneered comments did not come from men, they came from the women who were my co-workers. I used to be employed for a black owned, family operated, property preservation company. The organization only deals with foreclosed homes and the Chicagoland area. They have one of the biggest contracts with Freddie Mac, whom is based in Texas. There are field guys, and then there are the office workers, which is where I was employed. The office workers consisted of about 20 individuals, 90% of the population being women. The ten percent who were men, I gotten along with them very well because of the fact I hang around men, and I grew up around men. Which means I know how to talk and hang out with. I have never been a female who hangs out with a great deal of women because of all the chaos that can come about. But do not get me wrong I am a woman who likes to get her hair and nails done, and I am not very fond of getting dirty. The women I was employed with seen me as some sort of threat because I was in school for my Bachelors, I was single which means I did not have to go through all the problems that each of the other women were experience with men they were involved with, or dating. Also the women seemed to believe for some strange reason that every men that I have befriended who was employed at the organization, I had to be romantically, or sexually involved, which was crazy.I have never been the kind of person to mix my personal life with my professional life, and many of the women who worked at the company will hang out together and go to parties and other functions together. I do not mind going to a company picnic, but that is as far as I will go. Neither-less to say it was a very hostile work environment. There were many rumor circulating in terms of who I was seeing or not seeing in the company, or who I was involved with in the company. Many women gotten this impression because of the fact a few of the men who were very close to me will help me with monetary expenses. After a while I was terminated from the company because of poor work performance, but not after my name was slandered.

  • I currently work at a predominantly all female corporate retail store. I have been with the company for five years, and started as a part-time sales associate and worked the ladder up to a Area Supervisor. I am very fortunate to have the position and have overcome many obstacles to be in the position as well. On a daily basis I deal with both male and female customers along with employees. It sometimes still amazes me at the reaction I get when meeting new employees or customers when they find out that I oversee the store locations in the district area.

    On many occasions I have had to deal with unhappy employees/customers and have had to listen to not only sexist comments but also racist comments. I have had men make sexual advances toward me because they feel that in the environment of the retail store that it is okay to do so. When I have a customer in such manner I try to ignore the bad behavior as much as possible, from pretending to have not heard the comment or to laugh it off as if I had not caught on to what he had said. There has been many times that I have had to deal with an upset customer on the return policy or because we do not have a certain product that they were looking for and when I approach the customer I have had them tell me that they would like to speak to a male representative of the company. In one incident I had a customer tell me that I was incapable of making a direct decision because women were indecisive and based their decision on feelings instead of cold facts.

    I always remain in a professional manner no matter what type of situation is thrown at me. I handle the situations in which I would want a situation to be handled for myself. In some cases I end out on top and really reach a customer in changing their opinions or views when they see that a woman is capable of handling overseeing store locations and employees as well as being able to make a decision based on facts, rules and regulations. There are also times in which I do not end out on top and think to myself why I am still in this position. All I can do is stay true to myself and be the bigger person.

  • The story has opened up my eyes to what is exactly has gone on at my work. I work at fortune 500 company and it seems that certain jobs are acquired by only a certain sex for example supervisors are mainly men and trainers are mainly women. This was always something I found interesting due to some of the women that were promoted to their training positions, had more experience with operating an area of operation and vice versa. Whenever someone inquired about transferring to a supervisor position or trainer position they were notified that they needed to submit a letter of intent and when it was submitted a couple of weeks later they would recieve a letter stating that they request was denied due to insufficient experience. So when I read this article it gives me hope that my education and determination will not be for nothing.

  • This story is amazing, coming from a big company myself that has a lot of men running it, it is really hard to transfer within. Unless you have extreme experience or can talk your way to the top. When you work for a company that is a chain of lumber yards and hardware stores being female is a little difficult. They do consider it to be a ‘mans’ job over a womans. Becoming your own boss also shows that you thrive to be successful, and that you want to make a difference in that particular field.

  • As a female who would like to become a success in the business world, this story is amazing and inspires me. A lot of people have warned me of the obstacles that I will probably face as a business women but this story adds to the growing hope I have that anything is possible. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • This article was truly inspiring. I spent the summer working in Italy, I had
    not realized how far behind some towns are.
    I would try to pay for male friend’s dinner and just get confused looks
    and split checks. I love that this woman has taken her life into
    her own hands. It is great to know that
    you can do what you want without all for the hassle of sexist treatment.

  • This article is truly inspiring. I’m an International Business major and plan on achieving my dream job as a buyer in the fashion industry, and that is a tough industry to be in. This is why this article makes me so glad to read about such a strong and independent woman. She is the perfect role model to look up to.

  • This woman’s successes, plights, and obstacles are prime examples of woman’s inequality to men in the workplace. First of all, the workplace is centrally tailored to single people. As the author mentioned, she was laid off twice while pregnant, a visible sign of being in the family way, and once when her boss found out she had a child. I heartily agree with her when she says that there are men in the workplace that have families but whose devotion and flexibility is not questioned. Why is this? This occurs because women rather than men are seen to be the primary caregivers, not the primary source of income of a family. This provides a barrier against women’s further integration into the male workplace and into the general workforce.

    In addition, the perception as women as inflexible and potentially less productive than men because they have families reduces the overall value of the product of a woman’s work. Therefore, one could argue that this could be one of the many reasons for the wage discrepancy between men and women, holding that the man and woman in question have similar education backgrounds and experience. The wage discrepancy also inhibits a woman’s potential to enter and be a integral, and be perceived as an integral component of the workforce by her male counterparts. For example, lower wages provides a lower incentive to work compared to the incentive to stay home with one’s child. Furthermore, lower wages would mean less money for crucial day-care services for working mothers. With decreased day-care services, the hours which a mother could be available to work would decrease as well. Therefore, she would become inflexible, the very thing that the author’s former boss feared. If she hadn’t been inflexible before, the mere perception of being inflexible, the subsequent influence on the consideration of the size of her wages, make her inflexible now. It is an oppressive cycle that keeps women away from higher paying jobs and promotions. If the woman is not seen as a critical component of a team/organization/business, then there will not be much incentive to keep her there, or advance her.

    Lastly, women’s success is criticized not only by men but by their peers of the same gender. An example is Hilary Clinton in the primary elections of 2008. She was seen as a cold, hard woman. However, when she tried to be more feminine and dress a bit more feminine she was accosted and criticized by men and women alike, claiming that her clothing was not conservative enough and she should dress more seriously and that she did not possess a strong enough sensibility and character to hold the office of the president. Hilary Clinton, like the author of this article, needed to adapt and conform to the culture and environment of politics that is a predominantly male-dominated field. She acted more like how “a man would act.” She was strong, vocal, independent, and serious. However, this image did not please everyone because it was said that she lost her femininity. But consider what critics would say if she kept it. It is difficult to please everyone. Nevertheless, consider that men are not criticized in this way and pressured to act more”male” or conversely “feminine” in any field to succeed. The gender identities and norms that people of this country have established make it difficult for women to break out of the cycle and break into more influential, higher paying roles. Some women do, but the problem is that the obstacles in place that prevent them, like conceptions of gender roles, prevent more from entering into these positions.

    I strongly identify with this issue, especially returning from studying and living in Egypt and growing up in the macho Mexican culture. I have been told that I could do anything I wanted; however, i realized long ago that this could be true, but there are a lot of factors that could inhibit me. When living in Egypt, my gender was a problem, not only because of the verbal and physical sexual harassment that I sometimes encountered, this is not to say that all Egyptians act this way. Some are very respectful. Please notice the use of the word “some.” I digress. Anyway, my gender impeded me from consideration in certain clubs and organizations or events, sometimes because of the dangers of travelling with a woman or simply because my presence would make certain discussions or other men uncomfortable. Apparently, if I would have been present, I was told, that the interviews/event would not be as easily facilitated had I not attended. However, in this environment, adopting male tendencies and behaviors would not be the solution to my problems. It would actually make matters worse. Gender roles are pretty pronounced for certain people.

  • I’ve only worked at one place and never had this issue. Needless to say it still bothers me that this is an issue.

    I’m so glad that you were able to strive when people put you down like that, you have my utmost respect. Also that you are happy where you are working now. Everyone deserves to be happy when/where they work. People like you wouldn’t work so hard to not be happy in a work place.

    Congrats to you!

  • It is horrible that you had to go through this and knowing this continues to be a large issue in the workforce is heartbreaking. I have been at my current job for 8 years also holding many different positions. I to have had to overcome many obstacles. I am happy to see that you have overcome the hardships you were delt and now live a much happier life. I have currently gone back to school so I to can have a healthier and happier life. Thanks for your story it was a pleasure reading it and I continue to wish you happiness.

  • This really makes me open my eyes to my future in athletics. Desiring to be a sports information director I have already read up on how hard it is for a woman to survive the industry as well as run a family. Athletics is a male dominated industry and besides working with female assistants or possibly marketing directors there are not many females to build relationships with in athletics. I am happy I read this article, it gives a real perspective to the realities of success when working with men.

  • WOW!!!
    I can relate to this article. I am currently a single mother, I have always worked full time to support myself and before I was pregnano to my elderly parents. My current job title is a Customer Service Manager in the banking industry I have been working in the banking industry for the past 9 years. I started off as a teller and worked my way up.
    Like the article I am bilingual in Hmong and English but also taught myself how to speak Spanish. There is a large population of non English speaking Hispanics, and to move up the corporate ladder, you had to be bilingual. So by learning to speak Spanish, it helped me in many ways.
    My parents has always told me to pick my battles and never give up, if you start a task finish it.
    I am currently on track to graduate with my BS in fall of 2013. It has been a struggle as a single mother to work full time and support myself, my two young children and my elderly parents. There were plenty of time that I just wanted to give up. I recently thought about dropping out of school but I will never forget what my 4 year old son said.
    My son asked me how come I am never home and I am always working or busy with my home work. So I told my son that I had to work hard and long hours to provide for him, because I didn’t go to school right after high school. What he said next broke my heart “…mom I’m sorry you have to work so hard to take care of my and sissy…I promise I will go to school and study hard so I can make lots of money and you will never have to work again…”
    There is so much struggle as a mother, a women working in the business industry. When a child is sick majority of the time its the mother whose home with them, but women are just as good as men when it comes to the business industry.

  • This woman is what I love to look up and said thank you for showing those men that they are pathetic people who lost their values as team workers. By team workers, I meant respect, communication, listening, and work ethics. I felt her pain as a woman myself when I was working amongst men that interrupted me so much that I lost count.

    She can handle it any situation that come her way and these bosses fail to realize she has done this before and could handle herself. She is strong and a single mother of kids with her business going on strong.

    Her story really touch me to do the same with my entrepreneur business and sure I won’t earn a lot of money but I’m honest on selling my hand made product to people who still interested in hand made artifacts. I would love to continue to read her story and how she is doing.

  • It so
    hard to be a successful woman in today work force there are so many barrel. I’ve currently been working in the same position for almost eight years now
    in the same department. I’ve been founding it extremely hard to grow with the
    company. With years of experience I seem to suck at moving on, for whatever
    reason I was always second or their third chose. Taking a workshop on
    interviewing, resumes and cover letters renewed my faith, now I can believe I
    can do this.

  • I have never had these problems in my short time here. Although I havent even experienced the real working world yet. this seems to be rather ridiculous to me in all honesty. I cant believe how difficult it could be to be a woman in a man dominated world. Ive always heard the horror stories of awkward sexual advances and crude humor, but it was so scarce I never really thought much of them. All I can say is you are such a strong woman for doing what you do for thirteen years and you became pretty darn successful at it. You have truly inspired me.

  • To have to deal with that type of treatment I truly do applaud you. Being in the workforce for 13 years is a true blessing and a slap in the face to those who think women cant do it. To be a single mother working in those conditions would make any and every person uncomfortable. It is unfortunate that men think just because they are the more dominate than the women that they can run us and tell us what to do. Once again I applaud you on the way you handled the situation and how you are trying to make a difference for your kids. I hope that your business thrives beyond means and your children will have the best life and understanding that their mother is strong and independent.

  • After evaluation I made the decision to pursue
    my BA in Business Management without any sentimental value and it was the Best
    Decision. This also gave me a Potential Advantage to invest in other venture
    groups. That is my Leadership Style, I call it
    the “don’t fall in love. Its just business approach, it is good for
    Constructive Conflict it also Encourages Creativity with the ability to detach
    like I did for this business, good planning for exit strategies. My decision might be different if I had
    used the same steps included in the text along with the elements,
    resources and networks to conduct better business. This would have made me
    develop a better timeline and know better my clientele and listen to their
    needs to make the life experience worthwhile at my business. In conclusion my process will be much better after
    this course, It is said one goes through about ten cars in a lifetime and my understanding
    is that it should be about the same for employment and business ventures. I am
    also in my seventh car and my resume has eight jobs so I feel we are helping to
    develop new business opportunities for the sustainable multimedia and
    information era. My difficulties are time administration and this is due to the
    waiting game. I have moved about 6 times in my lifetime and maybe this is a
    reflection of the work environment that I am trying and repeatedly fighting
    for; three more cars and four more jobs to be in the good side of statistics
    and data development. On a more serous note, I expect to gain knowledge with course
    that is helping me lay down my previous information for better direction of
    business decision making in a modern world through the University of Phoenix,
    thank you in advanced for the scholarship.

  • Even though I do not apply to the overall experience of this article, where she as a women gets discriminated, I experience this discrimination in a racial way. I was not born in this country as most fortunate young adults have it. I was born in Vietnam. Vietnam is a poverty stricken Southeastern country in Asia. My parents worked long hours in order to get me to the U.S. Where they were given the belief that there would be no hate or segregation. They were given that false dream that nothing would ever happen if they made it to the U.S. Its not hard to see around us that this obviously false. I faced struggles as an “asian-american” throughout school. I can’t count the many names that I have been called. After awhile i just begin to ignore everyone around me. I promised myself that one day, I’d make an impact on this world and make sure everyone knew who I was. Even though I haven’t reached that point yet, Its still an ever looming dream that I will accomplish.

  • I understand what it is to a woman and face discrimination. I have been a manager in the business field for over 10 years, and does not seem to get any easier. I was the only minority female at my last employer and had been their first one at this location. I knew my job and treated everyone the same with respect and integrity. I on the other hand was called a derogatory name and had no respect from my subordinates or my superior. The general manager and the co-manager finally said that I was only hored because they had to diversify the location from the current racial lines. I am going to school to obtain my degree to show other women how it can be done. I am looking forward to the day when I can be my own boss while opening my business. I want people to enjoy coming to work and enjoy what they do on a regular basis. It will not be easy and it has not been easy, yet I push through regardless of the obstacles in front of me.

  • When I inform people that I am a feminist, they raise an eyebrow at me and snort. The majority of people believe feminism is in the ground, dead and buried for the past few decades. The sad truth is that sexism has weaved its way into the fabric of our country and invaded our very way of thought. Feminism is now equated with bra-burning, lesbian-loving, man-hating, psychotic women out to take over the world. It is stories like this- stories I have heard too often- that seem to punch me in the gut and remind me that the fight for equality has taken a much more invisible battleground.

    Unfortunately, I can relate to this article. Growing up, I have always been more scientifically minded and for a lot of people in my small community, that is Man’s Territory. They expect me to eventually get married and give up the career that I want to bear 2.5 children, all while retaining my figure and being perfectly charming.

    I can shrug off the weird looks, the derogatory terms I’m called when I’m not prim and proper, and the expectations placed by society, but several of young women my age fall into the discrimination station in the work force. I personally don’t know how I’ll deal with a future in a male-dominated career, but I can only hope it is with the same finesse as the woman in this article demonstrated.

  • This story really does made me stop and consider what I am doing, I am currently working on my undergraduate degree but I am a Spanish major. I have plans of entering the workforce as a translator/interpreter after I am finished and still am wondering if I want to go for my master’s degree. From the research I have done I feel that I am going into and opposite situation where the field of translation/interpretation is predominantly women.

    There still is a similar situation because I am a heritage speaker of Spanish. I grew up speaking Spanish and English. I have attended recent seminars on the work field and research that is currently being done. It does scare me a little to know that a large majority of heritage speakers do not become interpreters. This a dream I have been working on four years already.

    It is a reality to think about that I have a lot of great opportunities now o get involved and get experience within this field but to wonder what it will really be like once I graduate. If it possible that I will be laid off just as quick. It does make me wonder as well what will it be like wen I am ready to have a family and it will not just be myself I have to support. This story has really given me hope a well to think outside of what I can do with my future. With time and determination maybe I will be able to start my own business and still do what I want to do and one of my main goals of being an interpreter.

  • As a woman, it is hard to be looked at as an equal. There are so many people out in the world today that feel like women should still be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning for their husbands. We live in an age where women can do the work just as well as the men, and in some instances better. In many households, the woman goes to work and the man stays home with the kids. In some households you don’t even have a man. As a single mother, I am the mother and the father. I am the one that has to be the bread winner for my child and the one who cooks and cleans. To have to go to a place of work and be looked down upon because you are a woman and therefore you can not do the job as well, is quite frustrating and appauling. It’s a free country. Equality is what we supposedly stand for. Discrimination may be “gone” when you look at black and white, but it still lives in many other forms. Woman and men do not get equal treatment. Men get promotions a lot easier. I, like the woman in the story, love watching women based business thrive. I run a radio show that is primarily all women, except for one behind the scenes man who does some audio work for us. We thrive. We love our job. And we do not take no from anyone. You say we can’t… we show you we can. I live this on a daily basis and it is nice to hear of someone who also has the same struggles and is still fighting.

  • Although I’ve heard of gender discrimination in the work place, this woman’s story makes it all the more real. The female population has fought hard throughout the years to find equality in and out of the office and I am proud to say I’m part of that. Our skills may never be seen the same as our male counterparts, but that doesn’t mean we are going to give up.

    With only my first semester of college under my belt, I am already looking forward to my role in the business industry. On top of all the tests, competition, and hard work, I have to prove that a girl like myself can work among the men. That’s what I plan on doing; and I plan on doing it better than any man before me.

    This story is troubling because I know it is not the only one out there. I will face obstacles like many women face and I will have to fight through them. But I am determined to be one of the women, like the story above, who strive and break through all the female stereotypes. This story gives hope and strength to any girl in any career, and that power can never be taken.

  • I can’t stress enough, how close your story relates to mine. As a complete stranger, knowing we will never meet, you have inspired me. I have worked for my company now for six years. I started when I was freshly 18 and have never stopped. I can’t count how many sexual innuendos and advances, I have encountered in my office, but I can tell you this…. nothing has stopped me. For the longest time I have considered myself as a bird with clipped wings. I have the talent and determination to soar high, but I continue to be caged and clipped…(so to speak). And in most cases, my capabilities questioned….Not a good feeling after awhile.

    Once again, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and giving females like myself, the hope that we can succeed. No matter what obstacles are in the way.

  • I am working hard at completing my MBA to further my career to a managerial position where I can help progress the still ever challenging corporate environment that we as women face. It is frustrating to know that despite this, as average American women we are still only be paid .70 on $1.00, on average, versus what a man would make, simply based on gender. I have faced similar situations that are described by many individuals that have posted, as well as the author of the above submission. I feel that networking and mentoring are key things that we, as women in business, need to be proactive with. Knowing what many of us have experienced, we need to reach out to each other and recognize that we have a social responsibility to aid in the professional and skill development of others, struggling or not, and to take a more proactive approach in furthering women professionally. Otherwise, by idly standing by and wishing that things were different procures no change and these situations continue to happen. It is important to me to help further this cause and I think that by proactively mentoring and networking with other women, and reaching out to them as a resource, it is an easy and mutually beneficial action that any of us can and should be taking in order to be agents of change in the professional environment.

  • I have been to parts of the world where women are still treated as unequal. Countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal etc are developing nations and this kind of unequal treatment can be expected out of them but for the USA, the kind of working condition described in the article is no more than an slap on the face of the citizens and society who have failed to bridge the gender gap.

    I come from a family who wanted a baby boy. After having two girls, when my family was finally blessed with a boy–that marked the “completion” of our family. I have experienced gender bias since childhood, but even so, it has not deterred me to become a fiercely independent girl. I could’ve become the submissive kind, but i was a fighter. I fight for my rights. I don’t believe there is anything a man can do that a woman cannot. Reading the above article only made me more confident about who I am and what my strength is.

    I had a disturbed childhood, I saw my mother’s in-laws physically abused her and she let them. Thus, i was aware of gender discrimination from a very early age. Boys were given special treatment in my family, they were allowed everything they wanted to do unlike us girls. Then when i grew up enough to recognize that there was a world beyond my family, i realized that this was not just limited to my family, its spread worldwide. The number of cases of rape and physical abuse have been on a constant rise. I am not trying to prove that women are victims but I’m trying to prove that they have the power to fight back like the woman in the article.
    So let us all join hands to at least make the effort to fight back if not attain justice, because in the end the fight is what matters!

  • I’m amazed at the strength this person has. When I was growing up I did a lot of things as a child that I completely regret. I learned that it was best to move on from those bad memories, however, and accept what had happened. I was willing to say sorry to those I had hurt and atone for what I had done. Many forgave me. But there were always those few that didn’t trust me. Thsoe few that held a grudge at me for what I did.

    Could I blame them? No, they had every right to be mad. But it always felt a tad unfair; being punished for something I did a long time ago, back when I was a completely different person than the one I am now. I’m not perfect, and I know I’ve done bad things, just like the rest of us. But having the ability to accept and move on from your problems is one I highly value.

    It doesn’t matter how I or anyone else are treated for the person they used to be; what matters now is the kind of person you currently are.

  • First off, this article is so relevant to me because not only am I majoring in communications and marketing, but totally agree with the ideals of feminism as well. One day, I hope to own a magazine focused on stress relief and mental health, so this story was also very inspiring; just to hear from not just someone, but a woman, already where I want to be and in charge is so encouraging.

    Furthermore, I relate to it being hard making friends with other women, but for the opposite reason: I am painfully shy. I would love to be in your shoes as the alpha female who other women envy rather than the beta female who everyone, men and women, disregards. Be proud for being you when the odds have been against you!

    Also, the blatant sexism you described, such as being called a “bitch” or hinted at as a “slut,” all masquerading under the innuendo of a joke, lead me to believe that society is nowhere near as civilized as it thinks. Thank you for being the bigger person in those situations.

    Finally, I am so happy that you found your way through the adversity. It gives hope to college students like me.

    Thank you for being a woman, but a powerful one at that.

  • I find your story remarkable. I know how it is to work with all men especially when I am a secretary at a law firm where all the lawyers are male. The sexism is shocking; I see how the lawyers think that just because I am a woman secretary that all I can do it answers phone calls, take orders and get them coffee, but unlike the majority of the women working at the law firm I just received my Associates in Paralegal Studies, I have the education that can move me up in the job market. Because of my job experience and my age (I am only twenty years old), I get a sense of envy from my peers just like you received from the mothers that criticized you. A lot of my peers just think that I have this stuck up demeanor when I am just trying to prove myself in the job market, I have always had the attitude of, “work like a man, act like a lady”. Sometimes life can be “a man’s world”. I see a lot of girls who confirm to the typical stereotypical jobs of being a nurse, accountant or secretary (which is not a bad thing). This makes me want to further my education and become a lawyer. I want to be a female lawyer in a mostly all male profession, because I have the same capability as them. Being a woman and having your own company must be so fulfilling because you do not have to answer to anyone but yourself. Which is why I want to strive to own my own firm, I want to be my own boss and not have someone telling my what to do or determining what I can do based on my gender. I know it will not be a walk in the park, but to be happy just like you are is more fulfilling than anything.

  • While I may be only eighteen and never had to experience anything in the workplace before, I can empathize with sexism. Even though it’s only high school, I am put into a position of being subjected daily to mistreatment from my peers and teachers.

    It isn’t uncommon to hear jokes about women belonging in the kitchen or blaming a girls anger on her period. Because according to high school logic a woman only feels emotion one week out of every month in the year. For years I would just shrug at the comments or laugh them off, but last year it finally hit me that it wasn’t my gender that defined who I was or what I was capable of. Since then I have stood up for myself and others whenever someone attempts to tell them to “get back in the kitchen” or some other crass joke about being on their period.

    Unfortunately, in a high school environment it is rarely popular to stand up for yourself. However, seldom have I cared what others think of me as long as I hold fast to my convictions. There have been times where I have gotten into arguments with boys making fun of me for being a girl or other stupid things like that. Luckily, for me, I was raised to be independent and not put too much worth into the negative actions of others. But for those who aren’t confident or sure of themselves, high school can be hell.

    I try to stand up for others because that’s how I was raised. My mother was a CEO of an advertising company, but that didn’t make her job any easier. She was called a bitch and blamed for abusing her power because of her gender when she clearly was acting the same as any other male would. She taught me to be strong and to understand that even though it is harder to be viewed in a positive light as a woman with power-it is no reason to relinquish it to a man. Thank god my mother was a feminist and my father too because, like the author, I have learned not to tolerate sexism from anyone looking down on me.

    So I would like to say thank you to the author for setting an example of a woman standing up for herself. This article reinforced my belief that women are just as good as men no matter what business sector it may be in. While I hope I never have to face sexism like she had to in the work place, maybe I’ll have enough grace to handle it as she has and bravery to start out on my own.

  • I can’t really say that this aspect of working has changed, because it hasn’t. I am enlisted, and I can do anything that a man can do, except be in special forces. The military isn’t as sexist as it used to be, but it still is. Being in a femal dominated career field, I get along better with the guys in my office than I do with the women, and I think it is because the guys are few and far inbetween. As women, we are more emotional and tend to think with our feelings and our hearts, instead of with our minds, and being around that level headed thinking can calm anyone down. After work when I take off my uniform, I leave my hair down and put on form fitting clothes that makes me feel feminine. At work, we are all the same. Same uniform, strict hair styles, and sometimes, a girl just wants to look like a girl.
    Men in the military understand that in today’s day and age, women are just a capable as men, and we have just as many numbers in the military as they do. They still might treat us just a little differently, but not like we are fragile. Who knows, maybe one day it will be women who swoop in and save the day, not men.

  • This is an old story for many women and I too can relate. I worked in a financial industry for many years and was what seemed to be the office slave. I would hear the men talk about there wives in a fashion that made me feel uncomfortable and if I didn’t allow their flirtations to persist I was somehow the rude one in the office. Finally when my own supervisor started spreading rumors that I had made passes at him to a fellow female in the office, to try and make him look better in her eyes, I felt betrayed and reached my limit. I no longer was going to sit back and be the outsider in this “Boys Club” I decided right then that I would open my own company and I did. I brought all the women and my minority friends that had been treated so disrespectfully there with me. It was a great feeling. We all felt better and we turned into a kind of family. It was the best decision I had made in my life up until that point. My income doubled but everyone else had nice increases too. It was a win win for all of us. Some times it takes a really bad situation to force your hand to do something scary. Leaving a reliable job with two children at home was scary. If the situation would have been different I might not have had the push to go forward and start my own company so I look back and thank them all for that push.

  • This story gives me hope for my own future. I am currently still in school at a four-year university trying to attain a degree as an Industrial Designer. I have felt degraded and underestimated because of my gender for a lot of my life, and especially in high school, which I just finished up.

    I was one woman in a graduating class of 300 people. I wasn’t an all star letter winner or homecoming queen, but I obtained a title that I worked harder for and am so proud to hold. I worked my fingers to the bone to be the best student I could and all of that effort finally culminated in my becoming our valedictorian.

    I was always in our upper level classes with a bunch of boys who never expected much from me, even though I kept passing them up. I would always get comments like, “girls can’t understand math, no wonder you have so many questions,” just because I was one of the few females in the class.

    I was always self-conscious about my intellect because I felt like it made me less pretty or too intimidating to males. I finally got over that my junior year and just let my brains shine quit caring about being called a nerd; I took pride in it. I excelled in academics, arts, band, and choir; though I did involve myself in sports like volleyball and diving.

    I found it hard to be one of few girls in our honors, and AP classes, but just like in the story, I have learned to embrace my femininity and be proud to be a woman and smart. This inspires me even more to pursue my dreams of getting my degree in Industrial Design and one day working from home so that I can be the stay at home mother I’ve always yearned to be, while at the same time pursuing my occupational dreams of creating items that can make people smile and/or change lives.

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

  • I resonated to with this story for multiple reasons. I have
    also worked in a male dominated industry (construction) for the past ten years.
    Although I loved the work I did, it was challenging navigating my rights in the
    work place. Often men are paid more than women for doing the same job, and know they will get away with bad behavior. When women complain about it, we are viewed as “rebel rousers” as mention in the essay. In fact, in many instances women
    do not want to cause trouble, so we tend to downplay the harassment, and
    inequality that exist.

    It’s unfair how women often have to choose between keeping
    their job, and having a family. Employers view women that have children as a
    problem. For instance, I have personally been placed in a position where I
    had to choose my job or my family. Of course, my family is always my highest priority (as if this is a real choice). Although men are placed in the same position, this is a burden that is disproportionally place on women ( not just by men, but by other women as well).

    Sexual harassment is still a problem in the work place because there are few, if any consequences for the perpetrator. Our culture blames the victims, instead of addressing the source of the harassment. There is a covert, and sometimes, overt culture of acceptance for this type of behavior.This problem persists because there aren’t enough women in positions of authority to empathize with victims. I was hopeful after reading this article because It discussed how women are running their own companies, and writing their own rules. I believe this is the answer for women who want to achieve greatness while working in a male-centric world (be the boss).

  • So I’ve noticed that there have been many people posting long comments so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

    This article shows me what I am getting myself into by going into Architecture. Architecture is known as a mostly male field and being a woman, I know I might not be taken seriously. All that means is that I will have to push myself to work harder, and that’s alright with me.

    I see my gender as having an upper hand. If people look at me the way they have looked at the woman in this story, that means that they are underestimating me and my work. If I push myself to have the best designs possible, I know I will prove myself.

    I am not going to let anyone tell me that I am not good enough or I’m just being a silly little girl.
    “I am a strong independent [hispanic] woman who don’t need no man!”

    But it all seriousness, I will prove myself, and I hope I can inspire other women to do the same.

  • As a woman who had just entered the marketing industry, the concept of the glass ceiling is terrifying to me. The current marketing job I do have is within a male-owned business, and I know that the few women are treated differently. I’m totally disregarded…my marketing position became a receptionist position very quickly. My age and my gender definitely work against me, despite being an MBA student. No matter what kind of work I do, I’m still just a receptionist. In looking for a new position, something I take into consideration are female-owned businesses. I’d be willing to work harder for less to have all of the opportunity in the world, and to not get someone’s coffee.

  • I consider myself to be a young entrepreneur woman, and I have experienced discrimination of all sorts myself. During my high school years, I volunteered within my schools Athletic Training Department, as my initial major choice was to study Kinesiological sciences (Sports Medicine). Keep in mind, I was the only female student volunteer,. I would always find myself being assigned to mediocre jobs, as apposed to my fellow male classmates. While I would be fetching water for the athletes, my (male) instructer would be giving demonstration of an actual athlete who had just been injured with a slight sprain or such of that nature. Often time he would also let the other volunteers assist him hands on, but I was never asked to even observe.

    I contemplated time and time again, how I should approach the situation. Being that the engagement with this program wasn’t apart of the school’s curriculum, I felt any criticism of my instructor’s performance would result in my removal from the program. I ignored the consequences, and followed my instinct. I approached my instructer, when no one else was around. I vented my feelings about the way he ran his program, in the most polite and respectable way. He admitted his bias toward the males, he admitted that I was his fist female student to ever be interested in this field, and he was unsure of how to approach me.

    We left off with him understanding that I was capable of handling all if not more of the responsibilities any male could handle. It was a lesson for me, always speak your mind, because you never know what others may be thinking. Had I been quiet, quit, or even confronted my instructor in a rude manner, I wouldn’t have reached the same result I got. And that is a lesson I will always remember.

  • I have not been a part of what has been considered a male dominated field since the early nineties. I was a quality control specialist in the construction industry; city codes inspector. I was met by resistance, vulgarities, and even accosted in an elevator at one of these sites but there is no better equalizer in a situation like that than a knee-lift to the unsuspecting groin of your intended assailant. They were not only intimidated by my authority, they felt that my very presence was an insult to their professional and ethical reputations. I was watched like a hawk and every opportunity the men that I worked with on this project had they threw some insult or unwanted advances my way.

    I had to become familiar with self-control, being raised with four brothers who always tried to dominate me too, my normal reaction would be to come back with some extremely rude comments and actions of my own, but I held my temper and maintained a neutral stance on the comments and physical overtures. I developed a thick-skin and a stronger determination than ever to prove myself as a woman in a man’s world and as a respected professional in any industry. I am grateful for the experience it made me a better person and a more thoughtful businessperson.

  • I have spent much of my career in male dominated (IT) environments and can identify with the sexism she refers to. My first professional job I was a government employee and was overdue for a promotion. I went into my boss’ office and had a conversation about the improvements I had made in the previous 2 years to our activity, the projects we had completed, and asked for my promotion. He informed me that the office had been talking about us for quite a while, suggested the ‘Since we have the name, we might as well have the game’ and let me know where and when I should meet him after work. He had gotten married less than 2 years prior, was in his 30s, and was over 300 pounds. I was 19 years old and this was the first promotion I had ever asked for.
    I had a friend/mentor upstairs, another man, who I confided in. He coached me on what to do and how to handle it. I did it, it worked, and I got my promotion. I also got a chance to change positions and go to work for my mentor.

    Some things haven’t changed much, they just get dressed up a little different. It is still tough to be taken seriously, oftentimes it depends on the management team.

  • This story hits home for many reasons. One because, sexism is not just something I am familiar with, it is something I grew up with. My mother was always more of a homebody but my father on the other hand was a social butterfly. As a construction worker, my father’s group of friends consisted of large sweaty men with constantly calloused hands and sawdust in their hair. Needless to say I knew the difference between a flathead and phillips screwdriver before I could walk. But along with being blessed with an expansive knowledge of power tools, I was also doomed to always be the beer maid. The girl always getting drinks and snacks for people no matter how busy I was with my own projects or homework. Little did I know this was just society pushing me into the cookie cutter mold of “how a girl should act”, an idea promoted by the male dominated world we live in. Sexism is so engrained into society, it becomes difficult to know when to draw the line, when to push back on the constraints that have defined what a woman is capable of.

    As I grew up and started high school, I began to question the life I was leading. It never bothered me that I grew up around boys, or that like in the article, I laughed at bawdy humor, knew more about sports than any other girl my age, and was used to smoke in my face and liquor spilled on me. But I began to question why I didn’t get along with other girls well, and why I was so popular with boys. This phenomenon was fascinating to me, but also very isolating. As I began to apply for colleges, I stumbled upon the field of psychology and decided that because people were so interesting to me that might as well be my major.

    I received absolutely no negative feedback for that decision from anyone, except my mother. She demanded to know why I would pick a major that did not guarantee a job after 4 years and insisted I keep searching. At the time I was frustrated with her for not supporting my decision, but I would come to realize that her persistence would be a defining factor in shaping my life. Finally after begrudgingly searching for new majors I read about the field of marketing, immediately I knew that is where I belonged and began the process of applying to complete a dual major in psychology and pre-business. It was in that moment my eyes were opened to the sexism surrounding me.

    The moment I applied to be a pre-business major I was faced with comments like “oh do you really think business is right for you?” or “good luck with that, better hire a tutor” and even “If you get past the pre-req’s you will be lucky to make it through professional admissions”. I was stunned by the harsh reality that men controlled the business world, and no matter how popular I was with boys in high school, men do not share well.

    I realized that no one cared about me getting a degree in psychology because that is where I “belong”. Getting a fluff degree, that alone is unlikely to get me a job in 4 years, but will get me into debt. So that I can ultimately rely on a man to help me pay it off, and in return I can stay home with the kids because in all honesty society does not consider me qualified to do all that much.

    This realization hit me like a ton of bricks, but ultimately made me stronger. It made me realized that if I am to achieve my dreams I am going to have to work harder than I ever have, to prove that I am capable and that I do not fit into societies cookie cutter idea of “what a woman should be”. It is stories like this that continue to inspire me and remind me how strong women really are.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • This is really showing the true issues with the workforce. Feminism has been butchered recently with the uprising of the “new age, teenage” feminist that slander and hate on men. The real feminism, that was formed for equality and the equal rights for women to vote, still should be carried on today. Communications is a very competitive feel, especially in the past few years, and their is a heavy possibility that the men in the companies felt threaten by your education and perseverance because they’re level of education and such may not be as high. Perhaps it can relate to their home life; you mentioned how school mother’s resented you because you talked easily with their husbands whom have given up their own free thought. The men you worked with were married and might have given up on their free thinking and will power once they said, “I Do”. Those “professional business men” most likely have some power play they consistently attempt to use at work since they often sit back in silence and let their wives talk about and control certain aspects. Truly, the fact that you were able to bounce back from so many pitfalls and unreasonable excuses to fire you, you have risen up and created a successful life for yourself.

  • It is always encouraging to hear about someone succeeding despite the odds. As a female college student going into mechanical engineering, I hear story after hard luck story, women getting laid off, fired, passed up for promotions, or harassed simply because they are outnumbered by male colleagues. Unfortunately, these stories are something I can deeply understand.

    I have been self supporting since I turned seventeen. My family lived and worked on a ranch for much of my childhood, so I found myself willing and able to work for ranchers to pay for college. This kind of work is not, by any means, considered feminine. On one project, I was running a chainsaw with a 36″ blade for eight hours a day, five days a week, removing and bucking juniper trees. Too young and inexperienced to negotiate with my overwhelmingly male supervisors, I was willing to work this hard for the minimum, hourly wage.

    I frequently took the most hazardous, menial, and dirty jobs as well. The threat of being replaced by someone taller and stronger (five-foot-four always seemed about six inches too short for everything) was a constant I felt I could stave off by working myself into the ground. My time-sheets frequently reported sixteen hour days.

    In the end, once I had saved enough for my university tuition, I started taking classes and working in a research assistant position through the college. I am currently employed for a biology project, of all things, locating and studying rattlesnakes. The workplace is far more inclusive and less demanding, especially after learning the hard way that standing up for yourself is better than staying silent. I only hope that my children are able to receive the lesson more gently.

  • It’s hard to be a woman in a male-dominated field and maintain your sense of self. At work (I’m a civil engineer) and at school (Georgia Tech, 70% male), I’ve noticed that in order to succeed I have to “fit in,” and usually fitting in means becoming one of the guys while remaining feminine enough to be excluded from men’s conversations.

    I’ve never been a particularly feminine person, but it’s awkward and embarrassing when men at work consistently talk to me about football, yet ask my less experienced male colleague for assistance with work-related tasks. I’m expected to go to the office’s March Madness events and social outings at the shooting range, but men laugh and high five me when I’m not dead last in one of their competitions.

    I always instinctively feel like I’m not doing well enough at work because I don’t get much praise, but when I evaluate my productivity against others’, I realize I’m doing very well. I’m a jeans-and-T-shirt girl at home, but when I’m in the office I have to dress in black heels and a tasteful (yet flattering) dress in order to be taken somewhat seriously, while everyone else is dressed in khakis and a golf shirt.

    I know that I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be a woman in engineering, and it’s great to see the progress we are making in the industry, but there are subtle daily reminders that there is certainly more work to be done.

  • This is the story of a hard working woman. For generations, women in my family were seen as less than. Men dominated the culture in my family. In the hispanic culture, many men think they can rule their women. My great grandmother, who is still alive, was thrown around by my great grandfather for years. He physically, emotionally, and verbally abused her until he was on his death bed. The pattern repeated with my grandmother, who divorced my grandfather. Finally, the pattern continued with my mother. My mother married my father at a young age. Until they seperated 3 months ago, my father was emotionally, physically, and verbally abusive to my mom.
    I realized that this was a pattern from a young age. I vowed that I would never live under that oppression.
    When I got my first job as a nanny in high school, I never saw the mom, but I always saw the dad. He was nice at first, but a few months in he started making remarks about me. He would throw sexist comments in the air all of the time. He would get very close to me when I was talking, and the day I quit the job, he touched me in ways that was never appropriate for the setting. I began to feel like a piece of meat in the eyes of every man. That was until I took authority over my own life and remembered the vow I created. I would never let any man have that power over me, whether I was physically in the same room with him or not.

  • This story is truly inspiring to me. I really would love to do exactly what she did and own my own so that I can create at least one more place in the world where women will go and know they will be respected. I had a similar situation at my old job as well. One where the culture was very militaristic and male-dominated. They found nothing wrong with their behavior towards me even though they literally had daughters the same as age as me.

    I hope to be able to get to the place that she reached. Just so that I can be in a position to stand up for the women it will continue with. The stronger we grow, and louder we are, the easier it will be to make some head way with creating a more equitable world.

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