Glass ceilings, cliffs, and basements

Just in case anyone uncertain about these terms, these “glass” structures are the invisible, barely perceptible, seemingly immovable structures that keep people from reaching their full potential in the job market or public sector. Last year, Hillary Clinton was pushed hard off the glass cliff that is the US presidency and we ended up with our current president, despite the glaring difference between the electoral and popular vote this time around.

Still, she did shatter one barrier, that ceiling that had been in place holding women out of major party candidacy until then. She didn’t exactly sail through it either, gaining criticism for what may have included valid political reasons but was also plagued with inane things like being a new grandmother, and what if she got her period (from people who clearly don’t know enough about the female body to be using it as an excuse against her). Recently, she wrote and published What Happened, which recounts her personal experience of coming though the glass ceiling only to be pushed off what was actually a cliff. Was she set to fail as is the case made in The Abramson Effect?

Is set up to fail too harsh for the glass cliff dynamic? According to The Abramson Effect many of the first women are brought in when there is little chance of success but no desire to just give up on whatever the thing is.  Given that this country has a tendency to bounce between parties regularly, did she really have the exact same chance of winning? Well, one could hardly call it scapegoating of the centuries of men who were in a similar predicament. Some vice presidents even won sometimes and there have been successive winners if the same party. Doomed from the start is probably not true for her. She did have a whole lot of support and an extra 2 million votes, so what gives?

Well, there has been a lot of debate and I’m sure there is more to come. She’s also not the only woman faced with this question. Is it because I’m a woman? I can’t tell you how often I’ve wondered that of out of the ordinary behavior, good or bad. I’ve had unexpected favors as well as been barraged with yelling for reasons I cannot understand. When I was younger, I thought the “because you’re a girl” stuff was they either wanted to sleep with me or thought I was week. I’ve since tried to see how much may actually be due to our socializing. One guy thinks it’s fine for me to carry half of the whatever as a fellow coworker and there’s always another getting in the way because you can’t ask women to do things. Where they got the idea they we are out to bitch about doing work and then not getting equal pay for doing less than half, I don’t understand. Except when they don’t see our work (which happens) or think of what we do next to them as women’s work which is the exact thing they are doing (which also happens). I can’t tell you how many arguments ice had with men about equal pay who say we don’t do as much but then won’t let you help them carry something that it is my job to help with.

I’ve started to respond with “sexism hurts everyone” when I gave a boss actively working against allowing me to do the same job the men are doing. I’ve found that my male coworkers are more inclined to embrace my efforts to join them in the work when they see it is literally the boss keeping me from doing more.

But what the hell is a glass basement? Well, that’s their domain. The men get caught down here and find it just as hard to escape, according to the Myth of Male Power. The title is a little irritating, as was much of the content that I can recall, except the idea of the glass basement. I do find it a little suspect that the definition claims that women have not been fighting to break into the most dangerous jobs when we’ve been fighting for full inclusion in all combat roles for a ridiculously long time and only stopped when we attained it in 2013. I’ve even met with many military women who embrace the idea of women signing up for the draft alongside men now that they would be given as much responsibility and opportunity if actually drafted.

Personally,  I don’t see much point in fighting for lower paid jobs when so much of “women’s work” is unpaid. If the idea of a glass basement excludes women whose work is unpaid, like housewives, then is it really our fault that these men don’t see women down there with them? There are even claims that women are flooded into the basement a few years ago, at least in the UK. Meanwhile at-home dad’s and househusbands doing the same unpaid work for the sake of their families are frightfully few. Are low paying jobs the basement or unpaid care work?

Check out both the Myth of Male Power and Gender, Work, and Economy  and let me know what you think some time. I’m also open to other recommendations for this issue.

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