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life after college

What A Year Of The Real World Taught Me About Women In The Workplace

I’ve been working at my big girl job for almost a year now, and as many mistakes as I make and as much as I continue to disappoint myself, if there’s one thing I’m doing it’s learning. I work in an environment like none other and am constantly facing new challenges. Some days are great, a lot of days I want to decapitate myself, but I recognize my job as the profound privilege it is. Not only do I work closely under one of my personal heroes and make an actual difference in the country that I love, but I am surrounded by coworkers that I not only respect as professionals, but genuinely like. We get along, and we really are like a family. We bully each other – actually everyone just bullies me – but it’s fine, because I eat everyone’s food and drink everyone’s beer.

While I’ve always been skeptical and critical of feminist claims of workplace sexism, the pay gap and glass ceiling, all my experience has taught me – at a conservative organization, I might add – is that these claims have little to no foundation in reality.

My job is one that values loyalty, resolve and efficiency. While those qualities alone will not come close to guaranteeing success there, they go along way, and that is reflected throughout the company. No one cares if you’re black or an immigrant or a woman or gay as long as you can do your job and do it well.

The people in leadership positions at my job – regardless of their gender – are constantly under pressure. They get chewed out, and they get chewed out often. Sometimes it’s warranted and sometimes it isn’t, but no matter what they take responsibility for it, and take steps to prevent repeating whatever mistake was made. They do what needs to be done for the company, and that’s what counts.

Other people that are exceptionally successful at work are those that are easy to get along with. If you treat your workplace like an oppressive boys’ club and are filing an HR complaint at every slightly inappropriate joke made, you can’t expect anyone to like you. Career orientation and personability are one in the same; you can be the best at what you do but if no one likes you, no one’s going to ask you to tackle big projects with them or want to work with you.

I have disappointed myself and my superiors on more than one occasion, and I take full responsibility for that. I could easily blame my problems on overarching institutional -isms to make me feel better about my own failures, but that would be unfair to both me and my employer; not just because it’s untrue, but because it stifles my own growth and potential.

You can’t become the best version of yourself if you refuse to recognize your shortcomings as what they are; YOUR shortcomings, that YOU need to address and correct.
There are exceptions to every rule, but you probably aren’t being paid less because you’re a woman. You probably aren’t being passed up for promotions because you’re a woman. Your life isn’t going the way you want it to because you have a flaw that you have yet to correct. You might need to work harder, you might need to work smarter, and you might need to dislodge the rigid stick from your ass, but if you want to start making more money and moves, you need to make changes starting first and foremost with yourself.

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