Many people dismayed by Hillary Clinton’s loss are looking for any positive takeaway from her run. They point to her winning the popular vote by almost three million votes as evidence we will have our first female president sooner than later.
Having a female at the top of a major party ticket was progress. But even had she won, and even when we someday have our first female president, it will be important to stay vigilant because it won’t mean we will have become a post-sexist society, in the same way the election of President Obama did not mean we had become post-racial or post-racist.
Just before election day, Sam Bee interviewed president Obama on her important, late-night show Full Frontal. She asked the president if Hillary Clinton won what he thought would be the equivalent of: “You weren’t born in this country.” He said it would be something to the effect of: “She’s tired, moody, being emotional. There’s something about her.” He said it would be like: “When men are ambitious, it’s expected, but when women are ambitious, people ask why.”
More than 50% of the U.S. population are women. That makes women an underrepresented majority in public office, as well as in workplace C-suites and among late-night-TV show-hosts.
I’ve seen a lot of changes in my 30-plus years in the workplace. My dad is in his 80’s, so he came of age in a very old-school work environment. I worked with him for many years, starting in the late 1980s. When we started working together, I heard him use old-school sayings like, “I’ll have my girl call your girl to schedule a meeting.” I explained to my dad why that wasn’t cool. He changed, which showed me you can teach old dogs new tricks.
And, in many workplaces you will be fired for sharing crude jokes and the like, whether in a public setting or via work e-mail. But plenty of that behavior continues.
But, the glass ceiling has still been infrequently broken through. Much more progress is needed.
Everyone heard about our president-elect’s genitalia-grabbing comment. The reason countless men said they had never heard that kind of supposed “locker room talk” is that it was sexual assault talk.
In all workplaces, that kind of talk should get you fired. Immediately. And if you actually do what was bragged about to Billy Bush, you should be arrested.
Sexual assault is, of course, a tremendous problem, as I wrote about here. It happens in workplaces, as this past summer’s Roger Ailes case showed when countless women spoke up about their experiences at Fox News. Sexual harassment without assault is also damaging and poisonous, and until it’s eradicated, much work remains to be done.
Leaders of all genders and sexual orientation work to reduce sexual harassment, and every type of sexism. What have you done? Join the conversation with your comments…