Several years ago I was asked to address a group of College Students that happened to be young ladies on how to make it in business as a woman in a “Man’s World”. Although I was thrilled to be invited to provide this talk, I declined. I don’t feel like I live in a Man’s World. I feel like I just live.
Why Am I So Different?
When I was younger I followed my brother and his friends around and they hated it. They tried to ditch me any time they could. If they couldn’t get rid of me, my brother Erich would tell my mother, “Mom she’s doing it again.” My mom tried to talk to me and tell me to play with my own girlfriends but sometimes that was boring.
One time, my brother got an evil gleam in his eye. He asked if I wanted to play Kill the Man With the Ball. I was so excited that I’d actually been invited that it did not occur to me I was being set up for some serious hurt. His friend threw me the Nerf Football and before I knew it, several guys jumped into me and tackled me hard to the ground. They thought it was funny as I lay on the ground and tried to catch my breath. I wanted to cry but decided I’d look like a fool. I slowly got up again and proceeded to play the game.
I looked around and threw the ball to my brother and then simply dived towards his feet, grabbed them both and hung on for dear life. He hopped a few times and then fell to the ground. I was not very strong so I couldn’t really tackle anyone but I proceeded to play the game in this manner. The funny thing was, after that game when we picked teams I was always one of the second or third picks. To this day my brother says, “Remember how you used to grab our feet and hang on until we went down?”
Minimal Male Chauvinism Over All
I’m not going to say that during my career I was not subjected to a male chauvinistic word or two. There was a time we were demonstrating a manufacturing application to a group of men and one of them said, “You do know what MRP means, right?” This was after I actually demonstrated running MRP, explaining work centers, work orders, multi-level bills of materials, raw materials, finished goods and purchase vs. make decisions. I simply replied, “No, what does MRP Stand for Tom?” The entire group of men just smiled and one elderly man actually gave me a thumb’s up sign. What a nice guy.
During that same software demonstration, my long-time co-worker (a woman) kept getting interrupted by this same man during her portion of the presentation. Even though she had the reporting display on 100% which was easily readable on the screen, this same man barked, “I can’t see the reports; can you make them a little bigger?” When my co-worker, changed the display setting to 400% and politely said, “Can you see it now Tom?” the group erupted in laughter.
Do What You Love and Love What You Do
I guess the point of this entire story, is that overall, I do not feel I have been mistreated or singled out because of being a woman. Even if I ever was, it was extremely rare or perhaps I did not notice. I will never tell any woman how hard this man’s world is because it’s our world together. Never would I ever want to give a potential excuse for any individual to back away from her chosen career because she feels she may not fit in. She may very well excel and in my opinion, this world makes it possible.