Being the role of “Woman Who Cries At Desk,” was never a position I aspired to obtain. Yet that’s where I found myself after months and months of soft, subtle sexism. Each day my worth and contributions were evaluated through the lens of my gender – which means I never come out on top.
For months I dealt with men interrupting me, taking credit for my work, throwing demeaning jabs at staff meetings – but I held on. I thought: If I can just get promoted, they can’t deny my achievements. If I can just get promoted, I can demand autonomy from these men who make my life miserable. If I can just get promoted, I will have ground to stand on.
I didn’t get promoted.
For many reasons, that was a kick to the gut. It was shattering. It was a glimpse of things getting better, only to be ripped away. I was still standing in the same place I was months ago. Except now I’ve lost time – and credibility.
When people throw barriers at you, it’s hard to reach your full potential. You could always do more if you weren’t distracted by looking for the next hurdle to jump.
But the most painful part during this time was that I had become silent to what was happening around me. I made a deal with the devil that if I just shut my trap, kept my head down and continued to perform with excellence, the payoff would be worth it. Unfortunately, the payoff never came. So now when I say, “This has been happening for months!” the response I’m met with was, “Why didn’t you say anything? How can you prove it?”
How do you remind a person who sits in a position of power that when you are still one of the lowly – you pick your battles. I asked myself each day, with each demeaning action or comment, Is this the hill you want to die on? And for numerous reasons – personal, professional and everything in between – I would resign myself to believing this was not.
Today, as I hang up the phone with my last hope of justice – I realize what a mistake I’ve made. A mistake that I still understand and would probably commit again.