I find it a shame and an outrage to ignore that discrimination exists in the workplace.
Here's my story, and my story is strictly fact with no fiction involved or bias — nor the use of a few as an example and an excuse for all. I work for a Fortune 500 corporation that has been undergoing a major restructuring of business lines and a great deal of consolidation. The new structure that I now report to is completely male. The females remaining are waiting for their termination dates from the organization. During the restructuring, all jobs were posted, which meant that all employees had to reapply for jobs they were qualified for — including their current positions.
I applied for three positions during the restructuring. I have seniority over the men who were hired while I was kicked aside. A man who never even finished high school filled one of those positions. For another position, I was told I was qualified — but was also told that I would not be considered for an interview. A man was hired for that position as well. The last position, well, I never even received a correspondence. They basically ignored me at that point. Yet, all three of those positions consist of job duties that were a part of my former role here.
The position I held in the old structure has now been divided among six men (some consolidation, huh?). I have been forced into a demotion in order to stay with the organization. I am neither allowed to contribute nor asked to contribute. I am stuck in a corner while the male dominant structure uses my former work to make it look worthy. If I even try to address my new manager, he responds to a male member of my group so that male can forward those comments to me.
The most pathetic part of this entire situation is the feeling of violation. My psychologist has labeled me with having the same symptoms as a rape victim. No one can ever understand the feeling of such violation until it hits you. It is utterly sickening and a shame that this type of behavior exists in the corporate world today. I thought we had moved beyond this, but sadly discrimination is there, it is real, it is harmful, and it is against the law.
I gave my employer anywhere from 50 to 80 hours a week. I worked from home when ill. When my child was ill, I left him with parents so I could continue my work. I remained on call during vacation time. I was totally dedicated and loyal. Where did it get me? On the downsized list, while some of these men did their best to put in 40 hours a week and prevailed because of their gender.
Discrimination against women is real. I was a picture perfect employee, but sadly I was anatomically incorrect for the new organizational structure. People tell me often that the company has lost, not me. I say this: This organization has damaged me for life. Will I ever put forth the effort I did again? No. Will I ever feel that women have equal opportunity? No. Will I ever believe that with hard work a woman can prevail? No. Will I ever trust again? No.
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A version of this article appeared in the February 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.