I had an AFGO the other day. (Another eFfing Growth Opportunity, for those of you unfamiliar with my genius dad’s brilliant catch-phrase.) And I have been stewing over it ever since. And not just stewing… I’ve also ruminated on it, mulled it over, worked myself into a frenzy, wrote and deleted angry emails about it, and given it major lip service.
(I tend to have a very hard time just letting things go… like you don’t!)
Was all of that stewing, etc, worth my while? Probably not. And I need to get over it. So I’m going to blog about. Because that’s what I do.
It boils down to an issue of respect, and ultimately, sexism, I believe.
I offered up a genuine concern to a colleague. I was told I was wrong.
Fine. Difference of opinion. That happens and it’s ok.
(No, Michele, I am not talking about you. You can relax now.)
But then I received a phone call about the issue. A phone called that started with laughter (laughter!!) over my concern. My legitimate and professionally raised concern.
And it was then that my blood boiled. BOILED.
Don’t worry, I spoke up. I said that the laughter was inappropriate, belittling, and disrespectful. I was quickly taken off speaker phone. (In-ter-es-an-te…) Many patronizing efforts were made to placate me, but I was already done. Checked out.
I had already been accused of “throwing a temper tantrum” by this person once. And I play by NIH softball rules– you start with one strike. (For those keeping score at home, that makes three. OUT!)
I was invited to sit at the metaphorical table and I stood my ground while I was there. Unfortunately, I was not respected for doing so and, having witnessed civil discourse related to several disagreements with other male colleagues, I have every reason to believe that the lack of respect stems from the fact that I am a woman. Hence the boiling, roiling blood.
Sexism in the twenty-fourth and a half cent-ur-y!!!
I started college in 2001, grad school in 2005, and entered the professional work force in 2011. You would think that after year 2000, sexism on campus and in the work place would be a thing of the past.
I have experienced blatant and disturbing sexism in all three places.
In college, a professor told me that he didn’t know what I was getting so worked up about since I was only there for my M-R-S. (B-S, P-H-D in your face! Then the Mrs… thanks, MTU.)
In graduate school, I was told that I was doing female scientists a disservice by leaving the traditional academic structure. (Still female… still engaged in biomedical research… still working toward the improvement of human health on a daily basis… but whatevs.)
And now, with over two years of professional experience and a track record of success under my belt, there are still certain members of the “old boy’s club” that take it upon themselves to remind me that I am somehow less.
With the exception of awkward conversations in the bathroom (because I’m the most awkward small-talk-maker ever), I think before I speak and rarely raise concerns unless I find them legitimately worthy of consideration. I can understand why people might have been wary of me (fresh out of school and all that) at first, but I am good at my job and I have demonstrated that. So I deserve to be treated as such.
(But then again, even if someone is new and fresh out of school with no proven track record, they are still a human being (even if it’s a lady!) and therefore deserve to be treated with a basic level of respect.)
I’m always going to have to work with some jerks, that’s a given. And some of them are going to be men, also a given.
And so, I will continue to react like Jeffrey Tambor as Ed Singer in Muppets from Space:
DON’T… LAUGH… AT… MEEEE! (Start watching at about 0:46, or just recall the hilarity from your own mind.)
Perhaps you think I’m being overly sensitive, or that I’m some sort of “psycho” feminist, espousing the, as the bumper sticker says, radical notion that women are people too. And that’s ok. Might as well embrace it.
As my husband heard on Modern Family, and is now fond of saying to me, “harness that crazy into something positive.”
So my positive? Cathartic blog rant! Funny Muppet clip! And another AFGO in my arsenal!
PS: Yes, “another AFGO” is, in fact, redundant. Don’t care.