Our daughters are watching

The last time I worked in a corporate setting, I watched a man who was less qualified than I was get a job that I had applied for because one of his “bros” from a previous job put in a good word for him. After a couple of months of watching said underqualified man, flounder in his position, his boss had the gall to ask me to teach him the skills that he lacked. Skills that I had. Skills that were on my resume and the job description for the position that he had been hired for. Now, younger, worker bee, trying to get ahead me totally would have taken one for the team and waited things out like a good girl. Fortunately, I wasn’t that girl anymore.

...she has to be twice as smart, work twice as hard, and be twice as nice to get the same of recognition that a boy gets.

I refused. Within an hour of the conversation in which I was he asked me to teach the guy they had hired over me, I presented the boss with my exit plan. Fortunately, the boss was a good man who knew exactly why I was doing that and didn’t blame me a bit. I finished the project that I was working on (because I hate leaving things unfinished) and I left.

That was almost two years ago, and I have not regretted standing up for myself for a minute. I gave up some pretty substantial income, and on days when I wonder how I’m going to pay my editor for his work on Cauldron or Book 3, or when I want to travel more, I miss that. Still, when they contacted me six months later asking me to come back, I refused again. That time wasn’t because of any slight, but because I would rather spend all of my time working toward my dreams than someone else’s.

That experience taught me that standing up for yourself hurts sometimes, but in the end it’s worth it for our self-respect and for our daughters.

My daughter is nine years old, whip-smart and full of spunk. She’s also at the age when school starts to take a bit of work. She’s learning that she can’t get by on smarts alone. I find myself telling her in various tones of voice and at various volumes that she has to be twice as smart, work twice as hard, and be twice as nice to get the same of recognition that a boy gets.  

I hate that I have to tell her this, but it’s true. I learned it in the corporate world. Unless you’re working in the rare fields that are dominated by women, most of us do. I even see it in my own family. Older relatives frequently comment about how smart my son is. When they talk about her, it’s not about how smart she is. It’s usually how funny she is or how cute she looks with her hair cut a certain way, never mind that she’s in multiple programs for gifted children.

While she’s brilliant, she’s also still a girl. She likes princesses and fashion just as much as the next girl. So, I was pleasantly surprised one day a couple of weeks ago when I heard her say something that brought tears to my eyes.

My husband has recently been bitten by the photography bug, and he was testing out a new lens by taking a few shots of our girl beside a window. When he made a comment to her about how pretty she looked, she said with complete conviction, “It’s not my job to look pretty, Dad. It’s my job to be totally awesome.”

‘Damn right, sister.’ I thought. Maybe some of what I’ve been telling her is sinking in. Maybe it’s the example of standing up for myself, and as my husband tells me to do every day, ‘kicking ass’. I’m sure it’s some combination of all those things, and I’m going to keep doing it. My daughter is watching.

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