Think before you stereotype

February 26th, 2015

To all you movers and shakers out there, listen to my plea. Join me and break gender stereotypes in the world.

Before you throw your hands up in frustration, roll your eyes at another allegedly crazy feminist column and say gender equality does exist, take a deep breath, a step back and hear me out.

As a female leader who’s on the cusp of entering the workforce, I’ve already had one or two (or 20) frustrating moments.

I can’t seem to make it through the day without somebody asking, “So, what’s next?” Usually, my blood pressure rises a tad. I hold back the urge to run to the Tween and emotionally binge-eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Instead, I take a deep breath, smile and say, “Well, I’d like to see myself doing x, y and z, but we’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out.” (To my fellow seniors out there, I’m sure you can empathize.)

I’ve always set my standards high. I’ve always aimed a little higher than what’s deemed realistic. You all should, too.

So, when I tell others I hope to work my way up on the career ladder, perhaps holding a position in upper-management one day, I usually am received with, “But don’t you want to have a family?”

First of all, I’m 21. Secondly, yes, that’s probably somewhere on the ol’ grand plan. However, I’ve worked my bottom off over the past four years so my career could come first. (Even though my bottom has probably gotten bigger physically from all the Ben & Jerry’s I’ve consumed.)

I’m slightly surprised people still have this mindset. Hello, it’s the 21st century. Can’t we move past the 1950s housewife plan already?

True, I’m exaggerating a bit. I understand it’s difficult for women to juggle a family and a career.

But, it’s difficult for men, too. Or at least it should be. Men and women should share family and work duties. They should share the responsibilities. They should be equals.

Even though we’ve made strides in attaining gender equality in the workplace, the facts don’t lie. According to multiple sources, including a TED Talk by CEO and founder of “Leading Women,” Susan Colantuno, women are typically stuck in middle-management because of the ancient mentality that men are the most effective VPs and CEOs.

But hold the phone – a 2012 study in the Harvard Business Review showed men have a 51.8 percent overall leadership effectiveness, while women rank at 54.5 percent.

Now, let’s backtrack a bit to my tale of woe. (Again, I’m just being a pain and exaggerating.) If I were a male, chances are, I’d be applauded if I said I wanted to be a CEO or owner of a company. No one would ask me, “Well, aren’t you worried about tending to the children?” Nope. The missus would take care of that.

On the other end of the spectrum, someone actually approached me a few weeks ago, urging me to apply for a prestigious position. I thanked her for thinking of me, but said the position just wasn’t a good fit. I couldn’t believe what came out of her mouth: “Oh, is it because you want to get married right away and have a family?”

I almost threw up. I’m also pretty sure my jaw dropped. And, I couldn’t breathe for a split second.

No, seriously – I just don’t think I’m the right fit. I’m not throwing my career aspirations and everything I’ve worked for out the window, thank you very much.

There’s nothing wrong with getting married right away. However, again, if I were a male, I’ll bet you the newsroom’s leftover Guy’s Pizza that person wouldn’t have said that.

So, to all of you who think men should be the sole breadwinners and women should just sit at home and not even bother working towards an upper-management position, think again.

Times have changed. And, they’re going to continue to change. To all women and men out there, help me make this change. Cast aside the mentality that men and women have to pick between work and family. Or, men pick work and women pick family.

It’s doesn’t have to be like that – so don’t let it.