I was born at a time when girls were told they could do anything and be anything. Title IX meant that we were given the same educational opportunities as the boys and our sports teams received equal funding. By all appearances, it was an even playing field. And while these rights were a direct result of the work done by many generations of women who came before me, their contribution hadn’t quite sunk in…yet.
Thankfully, several years ago, I was given a book called When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. The book was a gift from my mother. As valedictorian of her high school, she received a full academic scholarship to college, became president of her sorority, graduated in three years, and followed it up with a master’s degree. She showed me that working hard to see how far you could go was a journey worth taking. I love that about her.
Accentuate the Positive
Any blind spots that I had about being a woman in the world became apparent when I joined the workforce. My first real marketing job in New York was working for a commercial contractor (think The Sopranos meets Architectural Digest). One day, a male exec came into my office, embraced me from behind and said, “Now, this is how you hold a woman at her computer.” It still makes me cringe to this day.
Another male boss in New York used to keep a life-sized cardboard cutout of Angelina Jolie (from whichever movie where her breasts are popping out) behind his chair. She had nothing to do with our business, but I still had to look at her every time we had a meeting.
There was another job where the men of the organization Googled whether or not women should still wear pantyhose in the office. It became an actual agenda item in our next team meeting. In the end, the men concluded that pantyhose were passé and the women were freed…in 2010.
More recently, I had a boss who had served over 30 years with the organization. He was ready to retire and not one for protocol. He called me in to his office early on and told me: “People who’ve worked in New York tend to not do well here. I’m not sure if you’re ever going to fit in.” Looking back, I wish I’d responded: “People who’ve worked in New York? Or just the women?”
There are more stories, but they don’t matter. Because, fortunately, unlike the women of my mother’s generation, I’ve had so many more examples of brilliant and powerful women in the work place to remind me that I was on the right track. These women were insanely smart, dedicated, and most importantly, they did not apologize for their strengths.
Forward to the Future
This coming April, BRANDcrafted will embark on its fifth year in business. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here, and we have greatly benefitted from the work done by the women from the 1960’s to the present day. In honor of them, BRANDcrafted is paying it forward in 2016 by providing a $500 microloan to Sophorn of Kampong Thom Province, Cambodia. Sophorn is using the loan to pay for school fees to continue her university studies in marketing. We are so excited for this future #girlboss.
For more information on microlending, visit Kiva.org.