As a young women a long time ago, I applied for a job to be an congressional aide in Washington, D.C.. This was in ancient times when everyone important had secretaries to do their typing for them, and none of us had computers.
The waiting area was divided from the interview area by a thin wall so we could all hear what was happening in the interviews. Each of the men ahead of me was asked questions about his experience in doing organizing and working with people, and I was confident that my experience was greater than any of theirs.
Sadly, when it was my turn to be interviewed, I got asked just one question: “Can you type?”
Even though I could type, I really didn’t like to, and anyway, it was unfair! So, I said very politely, “You didn’t ask any of the men ahead of me that question. Why are you asking me?”
“I’m sorry, honey,” said the nice woman doing the interviews, “But the congressmen only want to hire girls if they can type.”
The world has come a long ways in the 45 years since my interview – and we still have a long ways to go before women and girls will have the same opportunities and rights as men and boys.
International Women’s Day is not about women against men or men against women – but about people who are for justice for everyone.
Today, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of women and the progress we’ve made towards more equal rights as well as the work still to be done. And let’s honor the important ways that both women and men have furthered the empowerment of women and girls in our own lives.
Someone I’d like to honor today is my father, who taught his daughters as well as his son, to “walk in like you own the place!”
Think about it! If you walk in like you own a place, you will act as if you have the right to there and to be treated with respect by everyone who works there. And your attitude makes a crucial difference in how people will respond to you as well as in how you feel about yourself. This is why acting aware, calm, and respectfully confident is one of the first skills we teach in Kidpower.
I also want to honor my mother, who was a scientist and manager at a time when most women if they had jobs at her workplace at all were secretaries – and who sometimes worked in locations where any restrooms within a mile were only for men!
Looking back at a time and place where very few women were bosses, a man recently wrote to me that, ‘Your mother was the best boss I ever had!”
Having a mother who acted as a leader during her career and in her community- and who still acts as a leader in her own life – has inspired and keeps inspiring me to act as a leader in my own career, community, and life!