20 April 2020

The Invisible Woman

This is my sixth year in my current role, and this year marked the third time I sat across the table from two men in our top two leadership positions. I realized at some point during that conversation that this might well not be the last time. Meet the new patriarchy. (It's the same as the old patriarchy.)


At the beginning of my career, I didn't care so much about whether I was invisible. I grew up in west Texas, and while my parents might have raised me with more of a feminist mindset, the prevailing culture did not. I could tell tales of my first years on the job—the custodian who showed up drunk on my doorstep one night trying to force his way into the house, the counselor who kissed me in the middle of a conversation in his office, the assistant principal who liked to remind me that I was "all right...for a girl." Being invisible was safer.

Times have changed and I see and hear less about these sorts of behaviours. But it doesn't meant we've really become more inclusive and equitable. I think all of these attitudes are just simmering under the surface of what is viewed as being professional now. I also think I have become more attuned to when I am required by others to be mute and invisible. And it happens quite often. Not just as referenced in this tweet from three years ago (full list here), but within the last week. I am trying to be better about pointing these things out (sometimes, I'm even nice about it), not just for myself, but for others. I can tell you that these comments are very rarely welcome, but I don't care so much about that anymore. I can make an effort to create a better space for everyone...or I can be invisible.

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