Statistics show about one third of women have experienced discrimination in the workplace. We’ve heard the age-old–but nevertheless disturbing–stories of awful things male bosses and coworkers have done to their female peers. We’ve heard about the possibility/impossibility of “having it all” as moms. But we haven’t quite heard about this.
Katharine Zaleski, president of PowerToFly–a company that helps women find jobs in tech and digital fields that they can do from home–wrote a surprising piece for Fortune magazine entitled, “I’m sorry to all the mothers I’ve ever worked with,” in which she shares her memories of actively judging and discriminating against mothers throughout her career.
In the piece, Zaleski recalls spending her mid-20s judging working moms for not being able to commit extra hours to the job, and being complicit in other instances of discrimination–including saying nothing when one of her peers said the company should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant.”
Pretty infuriating, right? Zaleski has finally seen the error of her ways, though unfortunately it took becoming a mom herself to realize it.
“I was now a woman with two choices: go back to work like before and never see my baby; or pull back on my hours and give up the career I’d built over the last ten years. When I looked at my little girl, I knew I didn’t want her to feel trapped like me.”
It’s sad to think that even women–our fellow “sisters” as it were–discriminate against women, particularly moms, in the workplace. But they do, because the beliefs and habits of a male-dominated workplace run deeper than we could possibly imagine. We’ve all got an ounce (or more) of misogyny in our system, and it’s our job to acknowledge and rectify it whenever it shows itself.
And yes, by we, I mean you too.
While it would be tempting to walk away from this piece hating Zaleski, I commend her for being brave enough to openly address her own struggles with internalized misogyny, including what she’s actively doing to combat it and uplift other moms who might be struggling.