I can so relate to Ellen Pao. I had always taken for granted so many of the behaviors she talks about as the price of working. I had been flattered when I was younger and got hit on at work but it had disappeared by the time I was old enough to realize it was inappropriate. I’m not really sure why that turned out that way, so no good advice to give on that, though.
There are other lingering microaggressions that I live with everyday. I’m fortunate in the women that I get to work with these days and that many of them know what these are and we can hash it out. Like Pao, none of us want to be seen as difficult. We’re in a job where even female aggression is generally considered good, except when it’s at the system. If I come off angry at someone at work, I’m not given a hard time about it. If I vent at the way the whole system was designed to keep me from being as successful as my male counterparts, I’m whining and just pulling the woman card. Nevermind that I was banned from doing most things that these guys were doing earlier and therefore behind the power curve for no fault of my own. But let me get back to Reset before I fall too far down that rabbit hole.
I just can’t imagine being as alone as Pao is through most of this. I can’t appreciate enough what she did to bring awareness to the currently reigning brand of sexism that has manifested in order to keep the status quo. As with every woman who has dared to call a piece of the world out on its crap, she won’t get to benefit from the strides she’s made, but she knew when she did it that she was calling it out for the rest of us. Personally, I think that’s the bravest part. She knew going into it that this was only ever going to benefit the women who came after her but also that it’s an important and necessary first step to the opportunities she wanted her daughter to have one day. Also, this plays heavily into the lie that is “opting out” for many women, check out Opting Out: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home for more about how many workplaces are edging women out.
The story of her lawsuit is important for those of who seek equality in employment and advancement opportunities as well as a certain amount of quality of life at our places of work. It’s easy to see the way that after work socializing impacts our work lives and this shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s great to have friends but the boss shouldn’t be taking certain groups out not everyone. I have to admit that is one of those places where my work life has been pretty fair.
This is one of those books that everyone should read. I imagine it’s obvious to most feminists, and getting into a bit would even be obvious to most minorities because it’s the non-inclusive behavior that is the problem and it doesn’t just affect women. Anyone who is in leadership or management should read it and take a look at their workplaces. Anyone in the workplace would benefit from reading this and knowing what’s out there and what about it is problematic to be stopped at even the lowest level. One thing I’ve learned about all of this is that because it is women and minorities at work that are discriminated against, we are less likely to be believed when standing up for ourselves alone than when someone who is a part of the in crowd supports our argument. It’s important for everyone to understand the problems before anyone can hope for them to be fixed. Reset is a good starting point.