Apologies to Young Women From an Older Woman by Thomasina Skipper

Thomasina Blog

I want to apologize to all of the young and women entering the job market today!

My generation of women LET YOU DOWN!

I got my first real job out of college in 1976. I knew I was a minority, not just because I am an African American but more so because I was a woman entering into the professional side of my industry. Most of the women that worked at my office were clerical and administrative.

I was hired an an Underwriter Trainee. I was only the second Black Female to be hired by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in that capacity in the Cleveland Office.

I was told at my orientation that they needed to hire a women and a minority so I was a two for!!

I was also told not to associate with the first Black Women they had hired because she was about to be fired. I later found out there was an office pool on how long I would last.

The reason I want to apologize to the younger women is that I like most of my generation entering the workforce in the 1970’s were complicit in the misery young women are facing today.

When I entered my field, we were told in many ways to be patient and wait for gender parity. We were told it was going to take some time to evolve. I remember my company held a special seminar for female Underwriters and Underwriter Assistants to teach us to be assertive not aggressive. Aggressive was not how women should behave in the workforce. Meanwhile my male counterparts could be aggressive and they were favorably looked at for their positive aggressive pursuit that lead to promotions.

I apologize because we drank the kool-aid. We waited and we thought if we worked hard and kept our heads down that those in charge would notice our good works and reward us with promotions and a seat at the table.

I apologize because from 1976 until 2019 the landscape of leadership has not changed very much. Women make up 51% of the population and 47% of the workforce, but less that 10% of Leadership in most Industries in this country.

I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t be so accepting, so accommodating, SO STUPID!!!

The men in leadership aren’t bad or mean spirited or anything awful! They are just MEN! That said we expected too much from the Men in charge to do anything different or not self serving.

My generation was so happy to get a college education and a good job, we didn’t think long term.

We let bosses sexually harass us and remained silent. We watched promotions go to men who were less competent and told ourselves we didn’t really want the extra work. We allowed the industries, companies and bosses to demean our value and dismiss our contributions.

We kicked that can of double standards down the road where if a Man had a family he was stable, but if a Woman had a family it was a liability. Now 43 years later young women are grappling with the issues that should have been resolved 30 years ago.

I can’t go back and undo the wrong my generation has done. All I can do is ask young women to learn from our mistakes. DON’T BE SILENT!!!

You have to put in for a promotion even if you only have 70% of the listed requirements of the job, trust me men do it everyday.

You have to leave the company that doesn’t value your contributions, they will not wake up one morning and recognize your value!

You have to understand, no knight on a white horse is coming to save you from a bad situation. You have to have the strength and courage, energy and desired to get yourself out of that situation.

You have to accept failure as an essential part of growth and future success. Forgive yourself faster and get back on the horse a wiser woman.

If only my generation would have called out the BAD SITUATIONS (BS) the first time we heard we should be patient. I wonder where we would be now?

I recently came across a statistic that said that at the current pace, my industry, Financial Services would not reach Gender Parity until the year 2048. Gender parity is the goal, not gender diversity.

Why should 49% of the total population occupy all levels and positions of power and authority to make decisions that impact 100% of us with little to no input from the other 51%. If you doubt this I challenge you to check out Corporate Boards of Directors, Legislative bodies, and C suites in this country.

I apologize to the young women of today. You should not have to have a #METOO movement or any of the others, if we had stood up for ourselves and demanded we be given the respect we deserved!

We were so happy to get out from under the expectation of roles that had been prescribe for women of only being nurses or teachers. We didn’t understand that advertisers that told us we could bring home the bacon and cook it too weren’t in our corner. Those advertisers were laughing at us for taking on two yokes and smiling while we did double work.

Still today, I coach Women that was not demanding and commanding the respect they deserve!

I apologize! Learn from Us!

DON’T BE SILENT!!! DON’T BE PATIENT!!! Because nothing will change if you are!!!