Modern Woman: Part Two — A World of Glass

A modern woman doesn’t have it all figured out because she’s still in the process of figuring it out. That’s what makes her modern. This essay explores hidden barriers that professionally ambitious women face in male-dominated industries.

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“I’ve been a feminist, but I was in a room with guys who were behaving like misogynists; I caught myself doing the same. I was scared. I was scared that I’d be targeted by that behaviour, and so it felt safer to just join in. I regret that now; I would never do that now. But that comes with growing up, with learning.”

Manhood is a status that is earned then reaffirmed

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A man only becomes “a man” when he demonstrates his “manliness.” When some men feel they are being “put down” by women, this threatens their manhood.

We’re still learning how to operate in a new world of changing gender dynamics.

“Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?’”

The more strides women make, the more elusive the status of manhood. The more men are displaced, the more they need to assert themselves.

What the glass ceiling looks like

Here are a few stories they shared (this was a few years ago).

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  • “College-educated women, more often than men, avoid majors that lead to higher-earning occupations;”
  • “Women are more risk-averse than men are;”
  • “Demands for child care, housework and other life chores outside of work fall more heavily on women than on men.”

Glass Walls and Cliffs

“There is a glass wall. Women can see through it — to the meetings that they are excluded from, the casual conversations that accelerate careers that they are not participating in, the times a boss does not consider a woman in her thirties for a promotion because she might go on maternity leave.”

“If the woman succeeds, the company is better off. If she fails, the company is no worse off, she can be blamed, the company gets credit for having been egalitarian and progressive, and can return to its prior practice of appointing men.”

I write stories for modern women trying to figure out life, love and business. Read them here.

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