Okay, let me set the record straight here. Despite my experiences of being blatantly (and sometimes subversively) mistreated, overlooked, harassed and otherwise not treated as an equal to my male counterparts at work over the years, I am over being angry. Anger does nothing to change the past and poisons any chance of creating a new and positive experience for yourself in the future. I mean, yes, I worked with some real ***holes over the past 30 years of my professional life. But not all of them were guys. For every time that I was overlooked for a promotion or put down in some way for being a woman, there was at least one other time that I was being undermined or backstabbed by a woman.
Let’s face it, we women are not always the most supportive of each other in a workplace environment. Why? I have heard different reasons ranging from “nobody ever helped me, so why should I help you?” to, “If I help you, the guys will just think that I’m taking a political position just because you’re a woman, and that will alienate me even more.” I get it. These women were probably of the belief, as I was, that in order to be as successful as their male counterparts, they needed to behave like them, dress like them, talk like them, even put down other women like them. It hurts when you get mistreated by a woman, maybe even more than by a man, because you think that women are caretakers and communal by nature. Yet, those positive, authentic traits are often hidden by the corporate armour that disguises us as strong, unemotional, cunning, androgynous work-things.
So, I wonder: What would it look like if we as women dropped the armour and showed our real selves? You know, the selves that get angry, get real and sometimes cry when we’re frustrated? Also, the selves that have the strength to show our true colours, even if those colours don’t always connote traditional, masculine strength. Maybe it’s time to trade your suit of steel (or grey wool) for something a bit more fiery, fierce and unique. You know, something that screams, “I’m going to slay a few dragons. If you’d like to come with me, bring your true self, and leave your armour at the door. We won’t need it where we’re going.”