It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school in Miss Woodhouse’s advertising class back in Montana that I first learned about the glass ceiling. As a young girl who was told by her parents and by the American Girl books she read that she could do anything and be anyone, I remember feeling affronted by this ‘glass ceiling’ concept.
It drove me. It led to essay upon essay for college scholarships where I explained why I wanted to become a trained journalist—so I could provide a voice to those who were repressed from sharing their own. It’s a feeling that still drives me to this day. It’s the reason the I Want Her Job team and I work tirelessly in our free time on this site. (Trust us, it isn’t making us rich!)
The core leaders on the I Want Her Job team had a lot of discussion about this polarizing election season. Our questions always seemed to lead back to the same answer: Let’s not alienate any of our readers by sharing a point of view as a brand. Let’s keep business and politics separate. Let’s rejoice when the first female breaks through that wickedly thick glass ceiling, but let’s refrain from suggesting what others should do. After all, some members of our own team may feel differently and we don’t want to shove an opinion on them—or on you, our dear readers.
But then I woke up this morning. I asked my husband if it really happened. Did Donald Trump actually win the election? He said, “Yes.” And we both grew silent. It felt like a punch to the gut. I immediately felt that America came out and said, “Although a woman is the most qualified person we’ve probably ever had run for president, we didn’t vote for her. Although she had the most experience, we still didn’t vote for her. Although she took the high road when our now president-elect went low—in the end we still chose him to win.” A man still came out on top, and yet another woman is left wondering why she didn’t get the job she was qualified for.
While I was shocked, deep down I knew this was possible. I come from a state (the aforementioned Montana) that is often referred to as a “flyover” and “irrelevant” to those on the coasts. I get why a certain group of people are so frustrated and tired of our political environment. Those individuals should not be forgotten either, and their voices should still be heard as well.
But at the end of the day, I kept hoping that people’s conscience and their ethics would reign supreme in their decision. I hoped as women we would stick together and vote for the cause most important to us—creating an example for our young daughters, protecting our health care and bringing an underrepresented voice to the most powerful table in the country. It did not. And perhaps most disappointingly to me, more white women voted for Donald Trump than for Hillary Clinton.
And while many people I’ve listened to said that they voted for Donald Trump because they’re opposed to the Clinton dynasty, or they have an anti-establishment sentiment, or they wanted a Republican in the Supreme Court, I still can’t ignore that sexism was involved. We did, after all, elect a man who has exhibited (and bragged about) a gross disregard and objectification of women. And partisan politics aside, among voters, were there misogynists who didn’t vote for Hillary simply because she was a woman? I’m sure. Would a male clone of her have won? Damn it, probably (she did win the popular vote after all), which leads me to the heart of this email.
I’ve seen situations like this happen my whole career. Women get passed over for promotions they deserve, in favor of the ‘good ol’ boys’. In some offices, women are ostracized for having a family life outside of the office, yet men in the same workplaces aren’t held to the same standard. Sadly, I’ve even been groped at one of my jobs by a man, because he was drunk and apparently thought it was acceptable. Should I have gone to HR? I could only wish. After all, it’s my word against his. And in those situations the court system—and now the electorate—has decided this is acceptable behavior.
But it isn’t. It’s time that as women we rise up. We need to make our voices heard. We need to stand up for ourselves. We need to continue to stay high when those around us will go so staggeringly low. We need to be the living examples for our daughters (and sons) that you can be and do anything you want in your life. Our kids, nieces and nephews need our leadership now more than ever.
So, where do we go from here?
I actually cried when I heard that Hillary staged her party in a New York convention center because it had a glass ceiling. It wasn’t shattered last night. But I hope one day that it will. Maybe perhaps in 2020, which will mark the 100th anniversary of a women’s right to vote? I’m keeping the optimism and I’m doing my best to do my part.
As a website, yes, we are a business, and for the most part business and politics, in my opinion, should remain separate. But as a website, we also are a cause. We stand for women. We back women. We support women and the men who support them. And we need to stand together now more than ever. We need to speak our authentic truth.
Most importantly, we need to make our voice heard, but we need to do it by listening to others, respecting their point of view and by working to build consensus. After all, that’s why women make such truly incredible leaders.
Stay strong and keep making it happen.
Articles That Have Strengthened Us Today:
7 Uplifting Things We Can All Be Positive About Today (via The Zoe Report)
Let’s Celebrate the Women Who Won Last Night (via Elle)
An Inspiring Tweet From Emma Watson (via Twitter)
This article previously appeared in I Want Her Job: The Newsletter. Sign up now so you are among the first to receive thoughtful content from women helping women.