The (angry) Women’s Club

So at my new job, similar to my old job, there is a women’s club. In a male-dominated field this is a great way to connect with other women and raise issues and ideas for resolutions to make our company a better place for gender equality.

At my last job our Women’s Club met monthly or so and brought in guest speakers, put on STEM events for the school-aged children in the community and attended events recognizing achievements of women. It was also inclusive, men were invited and always encouraged to attend (though not many did). It was something that I learned many lessons from, including resume and interview building, ways to support my career path, how to negotiate and never sell myself short (very important ladies!!) and many other skills. Most importantly, I (almost) always felt empowered and proud.

Last week was the first time I attended a Women’s Club meeting at my new job. The previous one was on International Women’s Day, before I started working here. I was really looking forward to what this women’s club would bring to my new job experience.

It started out with my boss bringing up a ‘list’ that was made on their previous meeting. Things on there ranged from nursing rooms, to ‘don’t cut the cake’, to ‘kill your own bugs’ and many other things.

A couple of good initiatives came out of it.

My first week I was excited to go to the ‘store’ to buy some company zip ups, only to find that they were mostly men’s sizes, the man running the store said he thought there wasn’t a difference. Umm… there is a huge difference when I am swimming in a Men’s small, and it isn’t flattering at all. And then he said “Well, those bright pink ones probably aren’t for men.” So I looked at it and they were women’s sizes, in which I needed a medium and it actually fit nice. But as a woman, the only option I had for nice fitting clothes, was a bright pink zip up (I did not get one BTW, hot pink is not very flattering, and not always super appropriate in a professional setting). We did bring this up in the meeting and there is an action item to bring this to the store’s attention as a larger initiative. I will be pretty excited to buy some neutral color zip ups in women’s sizes should they get some.

There was also talk about guys asking women when they are going to have kids. And as you all know, this is NOT OKAY! I 100% agree with that. It turns out that the room was split about 50/50 on choosing to not have kids. Which is great, I am all for those kinds of decisions, as I feel that a lot of people just have kids because they are expected to, which isn’t a great reason in my opinion. I guess some of the women are being told that they are ‘selfish’ for not wanting kids and that ‘you are a woman, you will want to be a mom’ which are horrible things to say and very sexist! Those kinds of things should not be tolerated.

But this is where things started to get unproductive and started turning into a “She-woman Man-Haters club”

These women were talking about being mad when male coworkers said these things. So I spoke up and said “It is completely inappropriate for ANYONE, man OR WOMAN, to ask anyone (again, man or woman) anything about their reproductive life. It is absolutely none of anyone else’s business and you have no idea what that person may be going through and the feeling that you may be bringing up that could really hurt them.”

Personally, I feel that more women ask those kinds of questions to other women, but that is just my experience. I certainly don’t think it is by and far more men that do anyway. But it is inappropriate and hurtful coming from both.

So my boss then said to the group “And what do you say when someone asks those things?” and the one woman just said “I tell them it is none of their damn business” and she is right. But I do feel like men need to be explained to why sometimes. I really don’t think that men AND women that ask these things are doing so with ill-intentions. And my approach has always been to explain to them that asking people those things are very private and personal and inappropriate. And letting them know that they have no idea what someone else is going through. It really makes them think the next time they go to ask someone that. Whereas just being rude and mean about it doesn’t help anyone out in the long run. Again, just my personal opinion.

And from there the anger kept going. I mean… they were upset when guys held doors open for them. They found that as a male-dominant act. I’m pretty sure it is just a courtesy. I mean, I’d be more mad if a guy shut a door in my face. And that we need to stop being a damsel in distress, and that we can’t cut the cake at events, make a guy do it, and we have to kill our own bugs.

I guess I am not going to fit into this group. They don’t seem to understand that everyone is different. I like cooking and serving people, and I am not going to kill my own bugs! It isn’t a ‘damsel’ thing, it is a ME thing! And I think that makes them think that I am a ‘weaker woman’ because of it. (And yes, the term ‘weaker woman’ was used at one point, used to describe someone who couldn’t take a probably distasteful joke. And that was the one thing that made ME angry.) But let’s be honest, some actions ARE more feminine by nature and a lot of women enjoy those things! And we can’t ignore the fact that we are physically different.

I feel that every woman should be respected for what she chooses to do, whether in a male-dominated job or a historically female job, or some combination of both! Why must we fit into 1 of 2 buckets? We don’t have to!

But sitting in a room complaining about things men do and say (when a lot of women are just as guilty of the same things) isn’t helping the atmosphere. I talked to some of my male coworkers after and they had no idea women got upset about some of those things (the he/she narrative being one of them too, one that I often correct people on) how could they know if people sit around in a room and no one invites them or tells them?

For a group that should be fighting for equal rights for women, they seemed very angry and judgmental.

Maybe the next meeting will be different. I hope so. I guess I will let you all know!

 

You are all strong and amazing. Not one of you ladies is weak. I don’t care what you choose to do. Love yourself! I do!

 

 

 

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Starting over

On my last day of my old job a few weeks ago I said my good byes. Afterward a few of us went to the bar across the street where DH later met us and we stayed for a few hours and DH drove me home. I was completely fine with everything until we pulled onto the highway and started heading South. Then… I completely lost it. I don’t mean a few tears were shed, I mean a flood of loud, ugly tears. Because even though we all said we would keep in touch, we all know we won’t. I know we won’t. And that was the last time I will probably see almost all (if not all) of those people.

The next day… I was massively hungover. I only had bud light! That was it! Man this getting old stuff sucks sometimes! I seriously felt sick for 3 days!!!

The following Monday, I started my new job. And the weirdest part of all of it was that I didn’t feel a single bit nervous or overwhelmed at all. Very different from when you start your very first career job.

People keep asking me how I like it, and honestly, it has been 3 weeks, most of which has been training, so I don’t yet know how to answer that question. So I will just make some notes about it so far:

  • Everyone seems really nice, and I can really see myself fitting in with them.
  • It is very hard to leave a place you have been at for so many years and worked so hard to build those relationships and have to start over knowing no one and having to rebuild those relationships with people. That isn’t anything that can happen fast no matter how well you hit it off.
  • I still don’t know what it is that I will be doing. And no one really seems to know. I guess some things happen at all companies…
  • The things I am told I will be learning and doing I am very excited for.
  • In the meantime… I have spent some of my time really bored. REALLY bored. But so far it hasn’t been an entire day ever, or weeks like it was before. It seems that this job can be very busy and fast paced sometimes, and other times can be very, very slow.
  • Getting up earlier isn’t so bad… and getting home much earlier is nice! Mostly nice for my house since I spend the extra time *trying* to take care of it.
  • The safety level at this company is above and beyond, it actually makes me cringe when I think of the old company and the way things were done.
  • There aren’t as many women working in this area as I thought there would be at this company, but nothing that I’m not used to.

I was doing fine not missing my coworkers until today. I had a dream last night that my former boss came up to me at my new job (which was different than this one…) and said “I’m so sorry I didn’t try harder to keep you, please come back, I want you back here.” And gave me a hug. And I felt so happy to be hearing that, it felt so good to be wanted, even in my dream. I decided to go back and work for him, but I wanted to finish things up *here* first. It is weird how dreams can follow you and affect you even when you are awake. I am feeling incredibly sad now, and miss those relationships with my coworkers. But I will not go back there, I wouldn’t even want to put myself back in the situation I was in.

So… that is it for now. Waiting to see what is to come, and very grateful for this opportunity in the meantime.

This is the End.

Well, the end of this chapter in my life. My first career job. (BTW, I love the movie This is the End, hence the title).

In a few hours I will be unemployed!!! For like 3 days…

And then, a new chapter begins.

Thanks all for your supportive and kind words through this.

The Gender Gap

I know a few weeks ago I wrote about my disappointment at my boss not trying too hard to keep me, mainly that I was offered no raise or promotion to try to sway me to stay. To say  that this upset me is an understatement.

Last week I stopped by the desk of a friend from college to let him know that I accepted a new job and my last day is coming up. He was super excited for me and congratulated me with a huge hug and then asked me where I was going. I told him, and to my surprise he said “Me too!” It turns out that his last day here is the day after mine and he is also going to work for the same company (though a different location). I am excited that he and his wife (also struggling to conceive) will be moving much closer to us. I was so excited when he told me about this. But as we talked, the hurt came back quickly. His boss offered to match his offer and offered him a new assignment that would interest him. Ultimately he turned it down.

But his boss wanted to keep him. So much so that he didn’t hesitate to offer to match his new offer. As was the case with DH. As was the case with a former coworker/friend. Let me say that this friend is a super hard worker, dedicated, friendly guy and does a fantastic job here, and I know that he deserved that raise, regardless of if he was leaving or not.

My best coworker friend has been very upset and unhappy in his job for a while. He applied for a couple of other positions, both inside and outside of the company, and while he hasn’t yet had an offer, my boss is trying to keep him too. My coworker has started asking for a promotion from our boss often for the past month or so, since I decided to leave. And though he has gotten some political BS answers so far on the promotion, he did receive this high award today from our company, which also comes with a hefty bonus check.

Now, I am not bitter about this, he really really really deserves this. He is a very hard worker, he has contributed a lot to this company in his 10 years here and I am so happy that they are finally showing him some appreciation (because that doesn’t often happen in our group).

But it makes me wonder… why am I not worth keeping? Why am I not worth as much as they all are? I have contributed a LOT to this company. Weekends, holidays, classes to learn new skills that aren’t even part of my job description to keep our programs afloat and even thriving. Last minute emergency trips out of the state for customer support and problem solving. I have on my record some huge cost avoidance awards and I am on an internal ‘hall of fame’ for all of these completed projects for improvements and savings. Plus a couple of patents to my name.

Let me tell a little back story that I have often pushed to the back of my mind because of how upset it makes me. Our company used to give a 3% merit raise each year, basically it would keep up with the cost of living, but lately it is an iffy thing. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t. Then it was decided it wasn’t to be based on performance, but based on ‘benchmark market value’ which didn’t go over well. Last year we learned that some people would get them, some wouldn’t, and it would be different amounts to our boss’s digression. So my best coworker friend went to his sit down to discuss and the boss told him that the highest allowed by the company was 3% and so he got 3%. I went in shortly after this and was told that the highest allowed by the company was 2.5% and so I got 2.5%. Wow… That is even infuriating to write.

But as I write all of this, I still wonder if this is a gender issue or not. I feel like I want it to be a gender issue (I have been affected by my gender while job searching after college, I know it is real). It hurts too much to think it is an issue with me personally and I would rather just say it is because I am a woman. I am mad when I think about the gender gap, and I’d rather be mad than hurt.

It is making me think negative thoughts. If they didn’t want to keep me here, what makes me think they will want to keep there? Do I suck at my job? Have I really not done as much for this company as I thought?

 

They tried hard to keep every man that I know who has left here. Is it my boobs? Or is it me?

PS – Happy International Woman’s Day to all of you ladies tomorrow!!!

Too close.

I loved college. I had a blast (most of the time), met the best friends I have ever known, met the best man I have ever known (DH) and I know that the decision of choosing which school to go to (13 years ago) has made the greatest impact on my life. Far greater than any other decision I have ever made.

It led me to my best friends. It led me to my husband, which led to this RPL journey, which led to my precious baby boy. My job, my hometown, my house… If I had just chose to go to a different school, I wouldn’t have any of this.

I had actually sent my deposit in and registered at a different school, close to home, I just couldn’t afford to go where I wanted to go. But when I got the FAFSA report back, I knew I had to follow my heart. It is scary, and kind of sad to think about what my life would be like had I went somewhere else. It could have still been great. But it would be different. I will never know how different, and I honestly don’t even want to think about it, it is too eerie! But, I love my life. Greatest decision ever.

I went to Central Michigan University.

And since I have graduated I have only went back a few times, mostly for career fairs where I am recruiting. Then a couple of months ago for siblings weekend as my cousin started attending school there this year.

And then this last weekend.

My mom, aunt, cousin and I saw a show Thursday night and we stayed the night, intending to leave early in the morning. But our plans were changed.

I know the school and town kept praising themselves for a quick response to the shooting, but as someone who was there, I think they did an awful job.

We dropped my cousin off at her dorm so she could go to her last class for the week, this was 20 minutes AFTER the shooting took place! It was another 15 minutes before the students and staff were notified that there was a shooting and the gunman was on the loose, last seen on campus (BTW, CMU is NOT a very big campus at all!) and that they should shelter in place. We were back at the hotel across the street when my cousin called to tell us. At this point, it was too late to go get her, the campus was on lock down and we were on lock down in our hotel.

When we heard that he was seen running north along the tracks, we felt better, knowing that he was going away from campus. We all stayed relatively calm throughout the process (except my mom who was a blubbering mess, and honestly, it was NOT helping ANYONE!).

I am so glad for technology, it allowed us to stay on the phone with her and get updates. But why did we not know sooner? She would have been at the hotel with us, we could have taken off immediately and gone home. We never would have dropped her back off there! I really think that a 35 minute response to a school shooting when the killer is ON THE LOOSE is a very poor response. It caused more people to walk INTO potential danger.

After hours of lock down, with the sounds of helicopters filling the town, though it was strongly advised against, my cousin told the RHD that she was leaving, and he unlocked the doors to let her out, and she jumped in the car and we were gone.

At no point were we in the path of danger, especially since this seemed to be a targeted shooting, but it was still close. Way too close. 2 people were shot and killed less than a mile from us. In the dorm complex I used to live in. That was my home.

I pray for the family of the victims. I pray for the roommate who watched it all, for the students who heard the shots, who will never feel safe. I pray that these killings come to an end, and that schools become better at responding and informing students of potential danger and protect them.

I pray for Central Michigan University.

Thank you God for protecting us.

Spring Cleaning

Yeah, I know it isn’t spring yet. But the last few days have almost felt like it. And with me leaving my company in 2 weeks, I needed to clean out some old files from my laptop.

There were some pictures and some personal address files etc. which I expected to find and remove. But I found some letters written to HR that I had almost forgotten about (well, I didn’t forget, but I have been wanting to). Letters that when I read them now, I can still feel my eyes start stinging and choking back the tears that I was feeling when I wrote them. Desperate for some support on this journey from the company that I support every day. Letters that I didn’t want to write, with details of my life I didn’t want to share, in hopes that my company would see me (and others), a dedicated employee, as a person. A real person with real struggles who longs for a family. Not employee 31248.

But they didn’t. They saw a worker ant who they could keep for the bare minimum. And if I didn’t like it, they told me to get a new job.

And honestly, remembering back on the hurt that I felt hearing that, I don’t know what took me so long to do just that. I remember how bad it hurt (I’m sure I wrote about it a while back) and how cold this woman was. I remember how I struggled just getting the words out to her and how my hurt turned to shock and anger shortly after she opened her mouth to respond.

Maybe I won’t miss this place as much as I thought. Maybe I won’t miss it at all.

Have I shared how much better the benefits are in general at New Company? Better health insurance company, and they have options for what your family needs. And get this: They offer adoption assistance! $5,000 per child. Which I realize is a very small amount in the grand scheme of adoption costs, but it is SOMETHING! If nothing else, that gesture ALONE feels amazing. Even if it is something I never use, I feel supported. I’m sure that someone approached HR and said “Look, I’m struggling to build a family” and HR at New Company said “How can we help you? Let’s talk about this” and you know what? They probably have better employees for it.

I’m feeling more excited now. I am going from a company who doesn’t care about their employees to one that does. One that will work with me. One that will see me as a person.