The hard truth about working as a young woman in a male-dominated career
So I’m a young woman, in a STEM career (Science Tech Engineering Math)… and I always get these comments:
“You’re just a baby!”
– Co-Worker when I happened to mention my age.
“So what you started in this business when you were like, 2?”
– Manager when I said I had more than X number of years of experience.
“Don’t be so hysterical.”
– Manager when he didn’t read an email correctly and sent out a rather nasty, hysterical email reprimanding me; when I replied back highlighting the fact that he didn’t read said email carefully, that was his response.
“But do you really think you should be making more than your partner?”
– Co-Worker when I mentioned my negotiation process where I was asking for more money for my specialized skill set.
“You can’t really expect me to believe you actually made over $100,000 in a year.”
– Broker when I told him my rate and he laughed on the phone.
“You don’t seem like the high-heel wearing sort.”
– Random comment when they saw me rocking my beloved 3.5″ stilettos
To all of the above I say:
1. JEALOUSY NEVER LOOKED GOOD ON ANYONE
Just because you can’t make my salary or don’t want to, doesn’t mean that should stop me from asking for what my experience dictates I should be earning.
“So what if your wife is making less than you? I am not your wife. “
If I was a man, they’d all feel better.
I have no problems earning more or asking for more money than my partner, and if he has a problem with that, he can go ahead and earn more than me.
I encourage healthy financial competition especially if it benefits our little family in the end.
If your wife is OK with you acting like the breadwinner and she encourages you to bring home the bulk of the bacon, maybe she’s the smart one in all of this — she got you to to the work while she benefits from it.
Ever think about that? There’s a Metallica song out there called “The End of the Line” where the lyrics sing very rightly about how the slave becomes the master in the end.
What it means is that whoever you as a master, thought was a slave, is in the end, smarter than you because they’re the ones getting you to do all the work and are indirectly your master.
I am not saying you think your wife is your slave, but the rather raw analogy is pretty clear.
2. YOU ALL NEED TO GET OVER YOURSELVES
More men than women, but I won’t rule out women also thinking that they should earn less than men.
“Get over the fact that I don’t need to be a balding, fat, grey-haired man to have the experience and the brains to get the work done.”
I have worked with so-called senior-looking-folk in the past as co-workers and as my managers (LOL), and they have done less work and have had less actual experience than me.
Looks play a big part in how people perceive me and that is something I cannot control.
I cannot help that I am young, nor a woman, nor a feminine one.
So why don’t we start trying to accept that old men don’t have the monopoly on expertise?
3. STOP TREATING YOUNG WOMEN AS HELPLESS IDIOTS IN THE WORKPLACE
I am not your wife, your sister, cousin or helpless young female friend who needs guidance and help.
I manage my own finances, invest my own portfolio on my own without an advisor, I pay my half in my relationship, and I rock all of it while raising a toddler who scares me to death sometimes and working a full-time job when I am on contract, earning the salary that I earn & chilling out when I don’t work.
“I am not a helpless idiot just because I am young, and I am a woman.”
Maybe you should have more respect for the females in your life to accept and push them to be more of your equal in the areas you think they’re lacking in and you feel superior to them in.
Push the women in your life to be independent and take control of their lives and then maybe it won’t feel so weird when you come up against someone who has it together.
(Most of the time. My toddler unwinds me sometimes.)
4. IT IS OK TO LOOK FEMININE & WEAR HIGH HEELS BUT STILL HAVE BRAINS
My last and favourite comment is that I don’t look like the feminine, high-heel wearing type.
Ironic, because I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed shopaholic, but I am not seen as a shopaholic because I am smart at work and shopaholics are usually vapid, low-earning, secretarial types (from what I gather).
Talk about tossing a stereotype on its head.
“Why can’t smart, independent women like to shop, wear heels & be really into fashion?”
So.. let’s all work on not letting our biases take over and I’ll work on continuing to ask for what I am worth as a freelancer based on expertise and experience.