Recently I had an article published in the NY Times about my generation of women helping out our daughters in the workplace. The basic idea was that when we were beginning our careers, there were few role models or mentors, but now there's - for want of a better description - "an old girls network" in place to help and guide young women.
In the story, I made a casual reference to the sexual harassment that I experienced in the 1970s (and 1980s for that matter). Boy, did I touch a nerve!
I've gotten a great deal of feedback from the article from a number of places. Among other things, my wonderful friend Sally (excellent publicist as well as friend) sent the article out to some of her friends. Here's just a sampling of the responses women shared about their own experiences:
"I was reminded of an H.R. director who once tried to give me a pep talk. In his effort to pump me up he pointed out that among other things I had to be proud of, 'I had a body other women would kill for.' "
"One boss made me write a paper for him for his graduate program. When I refused the next time, he threatened me. Another came on to me on several business trips. Another screamed in the office that I was a 'f___g b____h' because I asked for sales numbers and he knew what I was going to find."
"I was working as a health planning consultant and was helping a VT hospital with some long term project.When the project was completed and the hospital got through the regulatory hurdles that I helped them with, the VP of the hospital and I went out for a drink. He gave me a half hearted thanks for a job well done and then told me that he had a suggestion for me. He told me that I had really nice legs and shouldn't be hiding them in white pantyhose. I should be showing them off!"
"Years ago I spent some time in Montana and worked outdoors for the Bureau of Land Mgt. One Friday after work the whole crew of us went out for pizza and beer and to shoot some pool. While I was eating (yes, while I was chewing on my bite of pizza) my boss (a friendly and rather portly guy) came over and kissed me full on the mouth (and yes, I am sorry to say, there was tongue too!) Needless to say I was shocked and completely grossed out...but what was a girl to do back then other than to pretend that it was all in good fun. This was the same guy who one day at work came up behind me and pinched my inner thigh. Not only was that incredibly rude but it hurt like hell and I automatically whirled around and punched him. He was a big guy and I was little so my punch didn't do much, but at least he got the message I was pissed. The things we women have to put up with!"
There were many more, but YOUNG WOMEN especially, don't forget those who came before you!