YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US

How the gender gap is breeding girl-on-girl hate crimes

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We all know that technology is expanding at an astounding rate. That it is bound to continue to grow exponentially, far into the future, to achievements currently unfathomable. After all, it’s been estimated that within the small window of the next five years, technological advancement will expand 32x, and in ten years, will be 1000x more advanced. At that rate, who knows what the future will look like?

But can we, as flawed humans, keep up with this growth rate? In a world still wrought with blatant bigotry, racism, and sexism, can we succeed in continuing to advance exponentially as a civilization? While it’s a difficult reality to confront, it’s undeniably true that our advancements in science don’t even come close to mirroring the advancements that we’ve achieved as a world, or even as a nation (as evidenced by our recent presidential election).

As the average person spends around 90,000 hours working (and much more if you’re working at a startup), the workplace is a rational place to begin an “industrial revolution” of the mind, by ridding it of prejudice. But while women have made an applause-worthy amount of headway in breaking the glass ceiling, the gender gap in the business world is still far from being closed. Women are still earning only $.76 for every $1.00 men earn, currently, account for only 20% of staff at the senior vice president level and 20% of line roles that lead to the C-suiteand make up only 4% of the CEOs at S&P 500 companies.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has spoken out about her feelings that America is far from being on the path of gender equality. “If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto, and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices,” she told the Wall Street Journal last year. “Yes, we’re that far away.”

And while most people, both men and women, can admit to having seen sexism in HR, management and Payroll at some point in their past or present, there is another insidious result of gender inequality that is rarely looked at: the resultant jealousy and unhealthy strain of competitiveness — not between men and women (though this in itself runs rampant), but between women at the same company.

Many women, especially those in managerial or C-level positions, have had careers lasting a number of years. And over those ten, or twenty, or thirty years of jumping over hurdles to get, and keep, their jobs, most have been ingrained with the same subliminal message. It can be administered in so many various ways, but it boils down to one simple common denominator:

“Any other woman in the workplace is a threat.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing all successful women of feeling this way, by any means. In fact, I’ve discovered that most women I work with in business are gracious, kind, and generally want to build each other up. But just because many haven’t given in, doesn’t mean we aren’t all being slowly spoon-fed the same propaganda. If we really dig deep and think about it, most of us have experienced this message, at least once, along the path of our careers. And what more brilliant way to keep smart, independent, and creative women from thriving, and from banding together in the workplace, than to tell us, subtly, and in so many different ways, “There is only room for one”?

If we’re going to make it as a society and truly have gender equality, we need to break away from the trend, step aside, and make room. We need to realize that when it comes down to it, the only way to break any glass ceiling holding us in is for those women who have fought their way to executive positions to lend a helping hand, and give other women the support that they may never have received themselves.

Trust me, I get it. Most of the women in C-level positions weren’t given a hand up by their female predecessors. They weren’t given a hand up, because there weren’t any other women at the top to offer their hand, thirty years ago. Those women had to fight with everything inside them to climb the corporate ladder, against a room full of men that didn’t believe in them; and I respect the hell out of them for doing so.

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Today, there are women at the top, and they can reach down. We can support each other, and mentor those who will follow in our footsteps. I frankly think it’s criminal NOT to help other women, regardless of age, or the thought she may one day take a coveted job. We need to stop focusing on what other women might take from us, and focus more on how we can add value and make ourselves irreplaceable. This will only be achieved through collaboration, and each of us paving a smoother path for the next generation than the ones we’ve had to walk. Why? Because If we don’t, an older white man will likely take that C-level position. For those of you that don’t agree, well, it may be difficult to sleep at night once you realize your part in helping our culture regress, instead of progress.

Progress is more imperative today than it has been in many years. Because today, the rights we’ve fought so hard to achieve are facing extinction. Compound this by the fact that 20% of women, in LA alone, are living below the poverty line, and female homelessness has increased by 55% since 2013, and you can see there is a long road ahead. So here is my message: those of you who have been working at companies for ten, or twenty, or thirty years, please know that we appreciate how hard you have fought for equality. We implore you to make room for the younger generation. To lend a helping hand, so that millennials of today don’t have to fight the same battles you’ve already won. After all, we already have new battles to face, as the world around us changes. Please nurture our creativity, and help motivate positive change. The future of humanity depends on it.

To find out more about a few incredibly companies dedicated to helping close the gender gap, visit Paradigm 4 Parity and Women in the Workplace.