This random ranting was inspired by the Forbes article, “Hard-Won Workplace Advice For My Daughter.”
The topic of discrimination and inappropriate workplace discussions has been pretty prevalent in my world lately. I recently had an amazing friend resign from her job due to what most would consider discrimination in the work place. She had a tough decision to make and unfortunately for her previous employer, she didn’t feel that the situation would ever change.
Ironically, my mother and I were discussing baby names recently and she explained why she gave both my sister and I uni-sex names. I had always thought that she had picked out uni-sex names because she did not know whether we would be a boy or girl. As it turns out she had a boys name picked out for if we were a boy and a uni-sex name picked out in case we were girls. Her reasoning came from her experiences with workplace discrimination at the time (late 70’s). Now, my mom wasn’t a burn-your-bra feminist, but she had to work hard to get to where she is today. As I understand it, before she had my sister and I, she worked for a company where she had to broker sales of gunpowder. Yes, that’s a pretty weird job, I know. Whenever companies would call her office or she would try to call them they would ignore her and want to speak to the “man” in the office. She found that the easiest way around this was to correspond by mail, snail mail at the time, and use her initials. This would keep the men from giving her the run around. She thought that by giving us uni-sex names we might be able to by-pass some discrimination. Luckily for my generation things aren’t generally quite so tough, but it is a lot more prevalent than I ever thought it was.
Up until now the most I had seen of discrimination was the telling of inappropriate jokes and comments. They were generally either really funny jokes that I didn’t necessarily find offensive, or just easy to ignore. Now as I approach motherhood I’m realizing that this next phase in my life may bring on situations where discrimination is more and more prevalent. I’ve already had to listen to the “jokes” about how I’ve gotten knocked up and am now going to run off to be a mom. I honestly don’t even know how to respond. How disrespectful! And my favorite one of late was, “well what are we going to do when you leave to drop the pup.” Seriously? Once again, how disrespectful, and I’m so sorry that my act of procreation is such an interference.
I guess the most frustrating thing is that it’s a lose-lose situation. In the business world there is never going to be a “good time” to have a baby and I don’t even want to think about scheduling meetings and working while breastfeeding. It’s just so unfair. Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that some people, men and women included, might feel that getting pregnant a month after starting a new job is bad timing. But honestly, I’m 29 years old and it was unfortunate timing for me that we had to relocate for my husbands job at the time when we were planning on starting a family. I think it’s almost a little ridiculous to expect that I should put off starting a family because of a new job.
I guess I want my cake and I want to eat it too! Most importantly though, I want to watch my son grow up. I don’t want to miss anything, especially the first year when it all happens so fast. I really think that the best thing I can do is teach my son, you know once he’s actually born and can comprehend a complete sentence, that women deserve respect and are equals. Hopefully this problem will die a little with each generation.
-Stay tuned for my next rant on how working mothers are treated in America vs. the rest of the world. It’s absolutely ridiculous!! The phrase “maternity leave” shouldn’t even have an English translation!!
-Tracy (21 weeks pregnant and kind of pissed off at society)