‘Historical legibility’ for women’s iniatives

I was lucky enough to have some time today to spend at a workshop for women’s leadership. At that meeting there was a great talk centering on the many steps women have taken, specifically at my institution but I took it to also mean more broadly, towards advancing equality of women in the workplace. It’s easy to forget and it’s so important to remember. This is what historical legibility means – as I understood it. You have to be able to trace the historical legacy and know what has been done so that we can move forward. Otherwise you end up reinventing the wheel again and again.

I was moved today and genuinely grateful for so many women that came before me and fought the good fight to gain access to leadership positions and represent women’s interests. Occasionally I have thought about how far women have come in society in a relatively short period of time, but today’s talk really hammered that home. The speaker also mentioned  some ways that women are still left out of opportunities because of ‘gendered culture.’ For example, women not getting to speak with donors because they mainly meet out on the golf course and discuss terms in the locker room. My favorite quote from the talk was, “Enough with the golf!” Given the history of golf clubs in this country there are all kinds of gender, racial, and religious biases associated with the sport. I definitely saw her point!

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for all of the workshops but I did get to hear the personal account of a woman that worked for 3 years to get the raise she deserved. After trying over and over to get paid for the work she was doing that was beyond her job description she basically had to give an ultimatum. Either pay me the raise or I am going to stop doing this extra work. I thought to myself – can you do that? Won’t you get in trouble?? And maybe this is part of the problem. Part of what I’ve been taught is to follow rules and to be subservient. I don’t know that I could have done what she did. I do know that I am so grateful for all the women “troublemakers” that got women in this country to the point where we don’t all have to fight so hard for opportunities! Now let’s take it global!

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