Monday, February 7, 2011

Women in the Work Force: Are We Progressing?

Whether you're in or out of the work force, there is always something new to learn.  Sometimes I get all girly and just want to know if my clothes are up to date and what's trending.  This morning I was reading clothing blogs, getting some decent pointers but mostly not.  already pretty was advising what to wear in the work force. She asked her contributors to submit their working wardrobe advice.  One of the contributors, Lisa from Privilege wrote this:
Of course, even the highly visible sometimes have positions of power, and can test a lot of limits. Look at Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg ...sporting heels, ruffles, and cleavage. As Facebook prepares their IPO she has the world by the, um, tail.
Well naturally I had to go see what the fuss was about...That's it?  Hell, I've dressed like that!  Many times!  What the...I  chalked her remark off to just being catty.  Then I got off the silly dress code crap and linked to the Sandberg video.  It was vaguely familiar and I knew I'd seen it before, thanks to Ad Broad who stuck to the point:  how to succeed as a woman in business.

I've experienced most things she's discussing.  My sons would wrap themselves around each leg when I dropped them at a day school in the mornings.  They were 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 and it broke my heart.  I had a boss at the time who, if I were five minutes late, was tapping his watch when I came in the office!  I was in sales for God's sake!  I earned my money the hard way, on commission.  He continually called me on the carpet for leaving work if the children were sick, etc.  My husband worked out of town and was unable to help then.  It was on my shoulders and, as the only married with children salesperson on the team, I took a load of shit.  Yet, I was the #2 biller out of 8 sales people.

My husband has always been a good partner.  He's fair about everything except making dinner.  His idea of making dinner is take out pizza.  Other than that, he was totally involved with raising the children, doing household chores, etc. He was also involved in my work in the sense he would listen to my problems.  When I had the watch tapping boss, I started to fear I was developing ulcers.  I was popping 8-10 Tums daily.  My stomach was in knots.  My husband would hypnotize me to ease the stress and it worked. 

Sandford says women do not credit themselves enough for their victories.  I believe this to be true.  We do tend to be more modest, crediting team work, etc.  We do also tend to back away from commitments when we're either pregnant, raising a child, etc.  I made that mistake once and I've always regretted it.  I walked away from a big job as a Gen. Sales Mgr of a very strong station because I was doubting my ability to do that and care for my children.  It still haunts me 20 years later.  Yeah, I know.  Let it go.

Anyway, she gives an excellent talk.  She's not preachy just practical.  It ain't easy being a man or woman in corporate America today but cream will rise to the top if you perservere and make it happen.



Mmm said...

that is so interesting as normally one reads how glad someone is to NOthave taken that big job, etc? I wonder how it would have turned out for you? Anyway, having a supportive husband is ideal as is the other way around too. :)
I so don;lt get it when anyone callsi into question an employee leaving early or not coming in when kids are sick or even if leaving early when the roads are icey, say. i always say, "well, you want to offer in writing to pay the extra bills then? " of course tehy never do as tehy know there is a legitimate issue at hand.

DJan said...

When I was in the work force at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, the only people who dressed up were the lower echelons. The PhD scientists wore flip flops and hole-y jeans, but their secretaries were dressed to perfection. Since I was an editor, I made my own place and wore jeans almost every day, using reserve psychology, I guess. What I accomplished was far more important than what I wore.

Star said...

Women always seem to submit to the needs and demands of men. Why do we do that??? I think we just like to keep the peace.
Oh well! We're the peacemakers then.

Angela said...

There is a BIG discussion on the subject in Germany at the moment. Should we have a quote? Our numbers in high positions are as low as in yours. Encourage women to apply for the really big places? OR, which is gaining room, and I must say I approve, should we turn the whole thing around? Not make women adjust to the "big male world" with attendance duty and weekend work, but create more humane working conditions!! More part-time for men to go after their father`s duties, more home-working places, all possible today with modern internet, and a certain amount of time necessary for child care! In Scandinavia this has proved highly successful. And the firms that employed more women in higher (deciding!) places were noticeably more successful! Apart from the better "language" and behavior, there were also more sensible decisions taken when women REALLY had to say something.
And especially mothers!
My daughter is a judge, working with two children, and you can bet she knows what life is about. I`d rather have such a judge than a man whose wife is in charge of all family affairs.

Baino said...

I agree that women have to make harder choices to succeed, particularly women who choose career and family. For me there was no choice, I had to work. It is getting better but a long way to go. We now have a female Prime Minister, three out of 7 State Premiers who are women, two of them quite young. The head of one of our largest banks is also a woman but the representation across he board is low and none of them have family.

California Girl said...

First off, I'd like to thank you
for the thoughtful comments you've left.

Mmm: I never understood the lack of empathy either. What I didn't include in this post was him sitting me down in his office to tell me he "never had to care for" his child. He "ha(d) a wife to do that." I wanted to do to him what Jane, Dolly & Lily did to Dabney Coleman in "9 to 5".

DJan: Atmospheric Research? That's impressive. I always think of scientific work being done in white lab coats with pocket protectors. hahahaha!

Star: For the most part, women are the peacemakers. We should all do as they did in "Lysistrata" and deny the men sexual favors until they stop going to war.

Angela: Read my response to Mmm.
My cousin is married to a wonderful woman from Sweden. I first met her in Europe when I was 19. I learned much about how progressive they were then. Why can't Americans follow suit? That question can be asked on SO MANY LEVELS.

Baino: Yes. It makes a difference when you HAVE to work. I didn't always have to work. I took, at the most, about 4 years off when the boys were in their early years of elementary school. But I went back to work because I like the independence and I'm good at sales and I always want to be employable. Thank God I did as I now have to work due to my husband's health, not to mention the 13.5MM unemployment we now enjoy. Saw your PM last night giving a tear choked speech to Parliament about the flood/cyclone victims. She had me in tears. Do you like her?

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what people will do when the "going someplace to work" is in the next room in your home. Then you can go to work in your PJs. The only lobby against it are those companies whose businesses depend on people buying clothes to wear to work. It is a style thing that is really what people do that would die if everyone stayed at home and worked.

I left you this reply on your comment on my blog. In case you don't get back there...

A lot of people studied it. Like everything else I do, once I get hooked then I can't let go until I reach some goal and I never know what the objective goal is. When I get there I know it and move on to something else. We called the nibs, "chisel edge" since they look like a wood chisel or a putty knife. If you practiced Copperplate styles of writing then you used a really unique pen holder that was called "elbow pens" for steel dip pens.

California Girl said...

chking to see if my "comments" work

Ruth said...

I've been fortunate in my husband too. I really don't know how many couples and families do it when there isn't the balance of sharing the work load at home.

Sandford's video rings true with my own experience in the work place and what I see in society. What is the most disturbing is how we who are conscious about it all, seemingly, still make the same errors and oversights, as she did with the woman who raised her hand.

I love the African tribes who denied sex to their husbands until they stopped their warring! It worked.

Dutchbaby said...

Thank you for posting this insightful video. Though I've been out of the corporate setting since 1998, I recognize all the situations Sandberg described. I was pretty good at sitting at the table, but I definitely leaned back as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I did not think I had the bargaining power any more and I think I was right.

I like that Sandberg was strong, yet feminine. I had a suit very similar to hers but I never wore it with cleavage showing, which appears to be more commonplace and accepted these days. I find Lisa's comment about Sanberg's attire offensive and it reminds me how often women are our greatest enemies.


by Cole Scott