The Times, They are A-Changing
I’ve had some terrific experiences interviewing and accepting jobs in my career. I’ll contrast this with some other experiences I’ve had along the way.
One time I talked to a senior executive of a company I worked for and stated my interest in a job that had just opened up. This job was leading a technology area that had historically been mostly male team members and always led by a male executive. His response was “this job is difficult and could have an impact on your family life”. When I talked to the HR Executive about my interest in the role, she asked “do you think you’re tough enough?”. I believe their responses would have been different if I were a (louder, larger) man.
One person I interviewed told me he wasn’t sure he could work for me because he had never had a female boss.
Once I was interviewed for a role and the executive said to me “If you look at all the people you’d be working with, do you think you’ll be able to get your point across with your style?” I didn’t understand the concern so I probed further. He clarified by saying “It doesn’t seem like you would be comfortable yelling”.
I was asked once if I would be comfortable working for a female executive.
I am not using these examples to call these people out. This is how they genuinely think and feel. Everyone goes through their own evolution of thinking about inclusion at their own pace. I tell you these stories for two reasons:
1. Awareness – It’s always good to know the truth. If someone thinks you aren’t tough enough and says that to you, you can give examples of how you work through difficult situations or with difficult people. If they’re concerned about working for a female boss, you can discuss what the concerns are and talk through your management style. If they think two strong women can’t work together, you can talk about why you think it’s an advantage and how you have experience. Anything someone brings up can be discussed. When the bias is unspoken, it’s hard to make your point.
2. Decisions – Times are changing, and people are changing. Some of the change is driven by education, some by exposure and time, and some change is driven by law. There may never be a time everyone will embrace your participation. In these cases, you may need to make decisions about what you can accept and what you can’t and whether the environment is the right place for you.
The Times, They are A-Changing. Maybe not as quickly as we want, but keep in mind that every step forward creates positive momentum. Keep the faith, keep challenging the status quo, and be ready with your examples in case you end up in any of these situations and discussions yourself!