Every month a few of us – women in our 30s and 40s – would meet talk about our jobs. It was a happy hour club, except without the men.
The rules were simple: what was said in the group stayed in the group. Membership was based not on merit but on vagina. Once you were in, you were in: embraced and respected, encouraged with pumped up boosts and cat videos, but no cattiness.
We were smart, ambitious women striving to “make it” in our jobs. We were now living in an era of girl power, when it was expected that women could be and do whatever they wanted. The gender war, we thought, was a battle won long ago, and yet each of us was stumbling into gender landmines.
There were times we’d gather in smaller, informal settings as needed: especially if one of us had a crisis, an upcoming interview, a mental breakdown, or looming unemployment – which nearly every one of us had experienced at one point or another.
But usually we simply hung out, drank, and talked about work…and of course men! What we realized was we lived in a male dominated world. It was the little things like, having your idea attributed to someone else, probably a man. Having to work twice as hard to prove your worth, and of course never being paid the same as your male co-worker, amongst others.
Recognizing sexism is harder than it once was. It’s a kind of can’t-put-your-finger-on-it behavior that isn’t necessarily intentional but rather inherited. So as women need solutions of our own, we must be armed with strategies to chip away at it from the outside into the inside. We need skills and tactics to shield ourselves while also advocating for wider change. But this is not a solo task. We need other women by our side. So let’s start by linking arms.