I never understood women in the workplace. My mom was a stay at home mom until I was about 13, then worked a pretty flexible full time job. She was able to come drop us off at school and come get us. I never understood my friends whose moms didn’t get home until 5 or 6, that’s usually what time we were sitting around the table for dinner. I was always told career and working was very important, and I was empowered to do and be anything I wanted. I just didn’t know what that looked like .
I’ve worked for multiple women post-college but always with a male boss above them (sorry ladies – it’s true). I’ve watched lady bosses be manipulative and emotional, but also smart and strong. Most of all, I’ve seen some of my lady bosses hate their job. I kind of started to think that that was normal. That you’d never like your job, but that you were expected to kill your physical, emotional, and mental health for it. I thought it was totally normal to daydream about a vacation just so you didn’t have to come to work.
But the biggest turning point in my career happened when a boss of mine actually left a report to her boss (a dude) that said “her inability to write quality content is a hindrance to the process” – in reference to me (I still have the photos of it). This workplace was particularly toxic, and I had already started looking for another job. Luckily for me – they fired me a couple of days later (hello unemployment benefits!). For the record, writing content was absolutely not what I was hired for, especially for the industry that that job was in.
It was then that I realized, that I value myself WAY more than to let anyone treat me like that. I realized that I’d rather scrape by and work multiple jobs than be treated or thought of in that way ever again. I finally found self-worth in my career. I felt so free when I decided to stop letting other people judge abilities that I never claimed to have. I didn’t realize it until months later but that moment raised me.
Through my 7 jobs out of college, being fired a couple of times, and having multiple lady bosses, here are 5 things I’ve learned:
- Your APPEARANCE should not dictate how people treat you. How you choose to dress, wear your hair, or keep your face should absolutely not dictate how you are treated. I actually didn’t know what to say once when I was told I was hired because I was “cute” or “young”. Work for a company that values your brain, your contribution, and your skills.
- Calmly and intelligently tell people you work with or for to fuck off. Obviously not using those words because that isn’t professional in any regard. You can express that you don’t agree with someones words or actions without being rude or crass. Something as simple as “I don’t like the way you just expressed that because it’s disrespectful” in a calm way will ALWAYS go farther than gossip or high levels of emotion.
- QTIP – sounds weird right? It stands for Quit Taking It Personally (can’t take credit for this one!). Once you release the tie between your job performance and your self worth, you feel SO FREE! It is more than likely that there are a ton of factors that dictate your job performance that are outside of your control. The only thing that you can control is your own job performance, and it you feel confident that you’re doing the best you can do, then focus on that and leave the rest at the door.
- LIFT UP your other female coworkers!!! We grew up in a society that thought you had to claw your way to the top and take down anyone that got in your way. Movies like The Devil Wears Prada and Legally Blonde taught us that to get to the top, we had to be bitchy. That is NOT true, be the coworker or boss that empowers other women to collaborate and work together. Truly 2 brains are better than one in every situation ever. Your female coworkers and bosses do not just exist to tear you down.
- STOP saying “I think”, “I guess”, or “but I’m not really sure” at the end of a sentence. Be secure and firm in your recommendations and thoughts. If you don’t feel secure enough to avoid these words of doubt, then put more thought into your idea. We are taught as women that we need to leave things open ended just in case we are wrong. Here’s the deal, it’s better to be wrong on a well thought out and supported recommendation, then to be flimsy and unconfident.