September 15, 2009 § 3 Comments
Whenever people, either in the real world or on TV, talked about the “boys club” I never really knew what they were talking about. My mom raised me and my sister to be “strong, independent women” so I never let the fact that I am female be a hindrance to my ambitions. When I was in Korea, my brother made the argument that men are just physically superior to women and therefore do better in the workplace out of pure endurance. He said that no matter how much smarter a woman is, she is statistically more likely to take more sick/personal days due to her menstrual system, family, etc. and could not keep up with the top man. I was pretty miffed at first but when you think about it, men are physically stronger than women. The fastest man is faster than the fastest woman. The strongest man is stronger than the strongest woman. It seems unfair but I also think that women are far better at many things than men. Unfortunately, those qualities are not often considered to be essential in the workplace. Empathy and compassion are nice but in a cutthroat business environment, they also pose as potential hindrances.
A couple days ago I read an article on “the third sex.” It talked about how professional women are often put into a category that is neither man or woman. In other words, physically a woman but like a man. The woman the article picked as an example was Hilary Clinton. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, this new category forces people to look past gender and look at one’s specific qualifications. On the other hand, it is a bit insulting as a woman.
I started writing about this because of my experiences in the “real world.” At the non-profit I work at, the two other staff members are white, male lawyers who graduated from the same alma mater, albeit about twenty years apart. Because of their similarities I am often left out of the discussion. I don’t let instances like that affect my work but I am aware of it from a personal standpoint. Also, most of the human rights law “experts” that we strive to work with are white males. And I’m pretty sure ALL of the invitees to our conference are white male lawyers, academics, or government officials.
I guess this shouldn’t be that surprising considering the makeup of our world, but it is. Growing up in California I was always exposed to such a wide array of cultures and experiences. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a “boys club.” Not that I’m going to let that hinder me… but I think it is prudent to realize the pre-existing structures around me. I’m not so much of an idealist to think that one day everyone will be equally valued and accepted in all societies. However, I do know that new and amazing, bright people are breaking barriers every day. I can only hope that I will one day join their ranks and in doing so, create a club of my own that is devoid of barriers due to color and sex.