Powerful Women in the Workplace

Nothing angers me more than reading something that tells me a woman cannot be powerful. This is in response to a wonderful lady’s comment on the NYT article, “A Woman’s Path to an MBA at Harvard.” Excuse me. But what the man that doesn’t raise his hand in class? One who listens more than he speaks? Does that mean he is behaving like a woman? What about the woman that does raise her hand more than she “so-called” listens?

Listening is entirely up to the individual’s own learning style. I find it difficult to imagine that a woman or a man who really vyed for an opportunity to learn, would silence themselves unless they were programmed by the “end physical result of powerful social conditioning about sexual roles that begins in infancy” (Listening, End of Page).  It is these roles that influence how we perceive a woman’s interactions as “passive” versus a man’s as “aggressive.” In aggression is truly a man’s trait, let me give you some examples of wonderful “women” that are apparently not role models as women, but as men.

She devoted four years of her life to marching band, three to jazz band, and her entire high school career to doing exceptional academically. She was one of the best saxophones, being second alto her first year, and first alto (a la #1 player) in her last two. She still had a social life. She also traveled to Italy, Greece, and Turkey before starting her university career. Where she continued to do marching band in university, despite having her true passions lie  elsewhere: Journalism.

An avid blogger, she kept a record of her thoughts and opinions throughout high school. The extra-writing she did was on always her own time. She joined The Standard as a writer, then earning Managing Editor her Jr. year and leading her team as Editor in Chief for her fourth and final year. Her piece covering the Joplin Tornado of May 2012 was published in the USA Today . This summer she turned a family vacation to Gettysburg as another way to follow her dream of writing. Her piece was featured as a guest post in The Joplin Globe. Even when she didn’t get a job out of university, she sought out her own internship to keep her passion moving forward.

She now works at Security Management Magazine in Virginia, where she continues to push herself forward to accomplish her dreams. Her name is Megan Gates, a life long friend, and hopeful accomplice for changing the world. You can believe she’s taking the world by storm.

I am seriously up-in-arms. I just cannot believe that our gender roles and societal expectations of “normality” are clouding the way we see progress! Society changes every day. We as individuals are influenced by and influence the world around us. Here’s another example of a strong woman that was never afraid to raise her hand.

Four years of high school tennis, Four years of intense high school debate, Four years of dedicated weekly piano lessons, Four years of women’s soccer, Four years of foreign extemporaneous speaking, Four years of ADV or Accelerated high school/college level work, Three National debate tournaments in three different events, Too many trophies,  and this list just keeps going on. Oh my gosh, can you imagine doing all of these in high school? Sprinkle in some community service, add a dash of founding a Youth Leadership Organization, and you have a really tenacious and devoted individual on your hands.

One girl did all of this. Before University. Without parental pressure–if anything, her mother wished to see more of her! She got fantastic grades academically. And was the first woman from our school to go to California, University of California San Diego specifically. Then, she got accepted into the International House and continued to overexert her academic career each quarter.She wrote and managed Prospect Journal. She belongs to the YAL Chapter at UCSD. She now works as a Marketing Assistant  for UCSD’s Recreations’ Department and has a position as an undergraduate at the typically “graduates only” International Affairs Group for USCD.

Her name is Alexsandra J. McMahan and you better believe she’s going places. She doesn’t raise her hand. She raises the bar. She wouldn’t let anyone tell her otherwise.

I’m sorry. But I don’t want to hear about how a woman is acting like a man, because she is going out and accomplishing things. Woman should be owning at life. We can and will take it by storm. And by all, if a woman wants to go to class, sit quietly and say nothing, or go to class  and raise her aggressively raise her  hand proudly and ask a question, then don’t you backlash her for saying she’s not right.

Don’t anyone ever dare to tell either a man or woman that are anything but what they are at their best–themselves. Gender is not a role. It is not a status. It is not an orientation. It is. Period. End of story. It is what you make it. It is what people see. It is something that is quite arbitrary and has been an issue in the past, I’ll admit, but would be great if we can broaden our perspectives and think, “Hey. Ya’ know. John acts like John, because he’s John. And Jane, acts like Jane, because she’s Jane.”

Normal people never changed the world. And I’m sorry. But if you want to be normal, you go be normal. More power to you for accepting the status quo. But if you really want change. And I mean, really want to see the world change. Then you cannot. You can never accept normalcy, or “normative mentalities.” Because normal, is stagnant. Normal doesn’t care about changing.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who, what, or which way you act. It only matters what you bring to the table. And don’t hold yourself back ladies, because you’re afraid
of acting like a man.
& Same to you too, men. We all deserve an honest chance to own at life.

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3 thoughts on “Powerful Women in the Workplace

  1. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate, because, as you know, I like to argue. I’ll start from part of Ms. Robb’s comment in your link. She says, “[s]urely institutions need diversity for success,” which, while it sounds good on paper, is often not the case. The question that needs to be asked is whether an institution’s existence is predicated upon serving others, like, say, a housing authority, or is its raison d’etre simply to perpetuate itself. If the latter, and this certainly seems to be the mindset in most corporations, well, then a company can be just as successful by breeding a kind of cultish acquiescence to some arbitrarily determined norm (i.e. capitalism as a zero sum game with absolute winners and losers). Integrating people whose approach to problems and whose basic work habits fail to coincide with that norm are then deemed “inefficiencies” and filtered out by a variety of processes: discriminatory but legal hiring practices, social pressures to conform at work, etc. When the entire corporate world is ruled by this mindset (and I think it is, even among so-called progressive outfits), your choices are limited to opting in (i.e. adopting a set of behaviors) or opting out (doing your own thing, often at great risk to your financial stability). I’m not trying to say that there aren’t people whose not-the-norm-ness isn’t leverage by this culture, but rather that they are outliers.

    • Always play devil’s advocate.Especially if it’s a devil on my side. I agree that “Company Culture” is crucial to understanding why corporations fail or succeed. This same culture is also the reason why some people establish “norms” and “expectations” of how individuals operate within those cultures.
      We who stand for the ab-normality do not disapprove of being outliers. We out-lie so that we can become a new normative, or standard. It is unfair to say that men will never be held against women as a polarity. However, I don’t want to be fair.
      My main argument should instead become: The choices we make should not be defined by the choices of our predecessors. Women who once never worked. Are working now, and are going to act differently. Men who once always worked, may not be working. And are going to act differently because of it.
      If we truly wanted “diversity,” we would treat individuals as individuals, regardless of the definitions we use to classify them.
      As always, thanks for the comment! It’s not that you like to argue. You just have a lot good thoughts that need to be vocalized.

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