A hard week so far…

I am in a male dominated profession (science) and I have risen fairly high in my career, faster than most people my age. As a result of this, I feel like people sometimes make snap judgements about who I am and why I am in a meeting. That happened to me (again) this week. I was in a meeting that consisted of myself and 5 men aged between 35 and 50. For about the first 10 mins of the meeting one of the senior sales reps who had come to try and convince us to outlay tens of thousands of euros on some highly technical software seemed to be treating me like I was sitting in on the meeting as a secretary. He spoke exclusively to the two male representatives from my institute, even when I asked a direct question. What he didn’t seem to understand was that of all the people in the meeting, it was me that would be making the decision on whether to purchase or not. It was incredibly frustrating, but I am not the type of person to let these things go, and so I managed to turn the meeting around, grilling the specialists on the technical details and making it clear that if they wanted this sale they would have to fulfil my requirements.

So that was a small annoyance, but then straight after this, I received an email from our national science funding body inviting me to a ‘women in science’ workshop to discuss some of the obstacles facing career progression for women (its an enormous problem – there are so few women at the top). I was too gobsmacked to take any notice of the content of the workshop as the name of the workshop was “Pump your career” and it was illustrated with pictures of high heel shoes! Apparently they were taking a leaf from the recent, indescribably horrible, EU ‘Science: It’s a girl thing!’ campaign. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it now, there is no way to describe how bad it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g032MPrSjFA) Cue annoyed emails to funding body from myself and some of my colleagues. Their response? They just wanted to make it ‘light-hearted’ to attract participants. Despite some really eloquent comments from my colleagues, they wilfully ignored our concerns and did not seem to understand that associating female scientists with high heels etc is counter productive to women who wanted to be considered as professional equals. The exchange of emails goes on…

And lastly, the proverbial straw that broke the camels back, was facebook. I have a few people in my friends list that are more acquaintances than friends but for the most part I haven’t bothered unfriending them because there didn’t seem to be a point. But today that changed. There is one guy in my timeline that usually posts interesting things, but every now and then he posts something that suggests that deep down he is a proper old fashioned misogynist (and that he probably doesn’t even know he is). Today’s gem was an image showing in a long and round about (and to his mind amusing) way that “women = money = problems.” You know the kind of crap I mean. (And I am NOT going to post it here.) Oh the hilarity. Oh yes, women are just things to be obtained, for which you need to spend money on them, but then once you have them (when they trap you of course) you discover that actually they are just problems to be avoided so you can go drinking with your buddies. Thanks FB guy for reminding me that so many men out there still see women that way, and that you, a guy I know, are a sexist wanker. The fact that you are occassionaly witty or clever does not make up for that. Enough is enough.

Some weeks being a feminist is really tiring, and the week is only half over…

Now that I have got that out of my system, I am off to kickboxing training to get some of this anger out of my system, otherwise its possible I might start doing violence to random men I pass on the street…

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About feministletters

Gender inequality has gone on long enough. Its time to raise voices and shout out wherever inequality, sexism or violence against women occurs. This is our little corner of the world where we try and do just that. Will you join us? Join us on facebook at: http://tinyurl.com/feminist-letters Or follow us on twitter @feministletters We welcome comments and discussions from everyone. If you would like to contribute a post please email us at feministletters@gmail.com
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