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Is it OK to have a career rant here?

(112 Posts)
ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 13:52:24

Just perusing the dreaded FB and noticed an ex colleague of mine (male) has posted up pics of the latest high profile conference he is chairing. We are both late thirties now and worked together 10-15 years ago.

It got me thinking (not for the first time) about how amazingly well all the men I worked with in my twenties have done. Every single guy I worked with at that particular workplace - whether bright and talented or not, whether good people or not - have carved really, really impressive, exciting, creative, lucrative careers for themselves. Very, very few of the women - even the brightest and best of us - have.

I just feel so fucking depressed about it. Yes, it is a bit of self pity. I fucked a glittering career in the media by having a child in my twenties. But there is also a sense of rage. All of those bloody brilliant women have just one by one dropped off the radar, are no longer trailblazing in that sector, are no longer visible in the public world. It just feels so wrong.

Nicename Wed 29-Oct-14 13:55:16

Try checking out women who haven't had kids or taken years off to look after them...Now that's depressing.

ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 14:00:23

I know..it isn't just women with kids.

Thing is, though, I didn't 'take years off' to have kids. I took a year maternity leave. But my career wasn't compatible with having any other interests or commitments outside of work. So presumably, any woman with any caring responsibility (elderly parents etc) would have struggled, too.

I did see the only senior manager at that workplace (childless 40-something) bullied out of her job, too.

But most people DO have kids, dont they? And of the women I worked with who did (most of them), only one remains working in that industry and she has taken a demotion to do so.

Just having a maudlin moment about it all, really. There were some incredible women there. Yet now, all the mover-shaker, decision makers are men, in almost all of that industry. It galls.

BranchingOut Wed 29-Oct-14 14:01:31

Yes, I hung around with a lot of high-flying individuals in my student/young-professional days.

All of the men are in professional jobs, a couple have done exceptionally well. Most of the women are under the radar.

I might post a list of examples here later...

ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 14:06:41

I cant say too much without completely outing myself, but I managed a team in that workplace and that team comprised of four men and four women, all at the same level.

Two of the men have senior roles at international broadcasting companies
One has a senior role at a charity.
One is a high profile presenter.

They all have families.

Of the women:
One had three children in her mid twenties-early thirties and is still in the industry at the same level she entered at.
Two retrained to work in schools to fit in with school holidays.
One teaches media in a college.

Maybe they're happy and I am the only one with 'I coulda been a contender' syndrome. But that team is a microcosm of the whole organisation and wider industry. It cant be right.

Thurlow Wed 29-Oct-14 14:11:43

I know what you mean. I look at what the men I know and the women who haven't had DC yet are up to and I can see that there are slowly slipping away. I had one DC 3 years ago in my early thirties, all perfectly normal, and I still work f/t... but I'm not pushing the way I expected I might be. Expected pre having a child, that is.

That year out, that desire to get home at a reasonable and see my DC... It all impacts on career progression. I'm not networking, I'm not going to many courses, I'm not on committees, I haven't published anything in ages.

Before I started to think about having children I thought it was all so straighforward and there was no reason for women's careers to suffer.

But then we're the ones who tend to be most able to take maternity leave and, I think, taking those months or a year off work tends to make a lot of women prefer the idea of going back p/t or even giving up work. I'm not entirely sure I believe that cutting down to p/t is something distinctly feminine, more that it relates to women being the ones who have the maternity leave - in my head there is a subtle distinction, not sure if I've explained that well.

And then if you think you might be taking maternity leave in a few years time anyway for a second child...

But yes, somehow it all ends up being men.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Timeforabiscuit Wed 29-Oct-14 14:16:25

That's surprising to me - I'm working in public sector and it tends the women who are pushing forward. I know that its a low paid sector - but its interesting and challenging work - I suppose it depends how you define success?

Facebook is an instrument of evil!

ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 14:26:37

I have good friends who have done well in their careers in different sectors, but none of them had children before 35 and at the moment (late thirties) it looks like they will all be sticking at just one child.

I had absolutely no idea that having children at 27 would fuck my career. Not a scooby. I just assumed I was bright and good at my job and had progressed to management already and that it would all be fine. I find it hard now to see how I could have been so very naive.

ZombiePuffinsAreREAL Wed 29-Oct-14 14:30:03

It's not just in academia or media. Of my cohort of nurses, all the males (who are still nursing) are now managers, the 2 males who left are working as execs in related industry. Of the women, about half have left nursing, 2 are in management and the rest are still staff nurses. The 2 in management have no children.

Friends have seen the same pattern in teaching.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsGotBellsOn Wed 29-Oct-14 14:39:15

I guess you are right@Buffy.

I was raised by a single mother who worked her way up from teacher to senior management in education. She always told me I could do anything I set my mind to, although we also talked frankly about how hard she found it on the SMT, the way men took her ideas as their own and sidelined her and generally behaved in an underhand way. She took early retirement because of it, in the end. But I think she thought it might be different for my generation, that we would have it easier. I dont know if we do.

For a long time I felt quietly resentful about my own career stalling. Then I thought I had 'gotten over it'. But today, I felt such a complete RAGE when I saw that guy's photo. Not aimed at him, but on behalf of all of the women he worked with who arent doing what HE is doing - being photographed chairing a conference attended by eminent MEN from the industry, all slapping each other on the back for how well they have done. The women are all invisible now. None of them are centre stage like that.

Honestly, I felt so angry I almost burst into tears. Still feel choked now.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FloraFox Wed 29-Oct-14 15:12:54

Buffy you are exactly right about being told we can do everything, all equal etc. We were also told employers would need to have the best people at every level, regardless of their sex. In most organisations, that's untrue. Most organisations have lots of people in junior roles and few people in senior roles. IMO for most jobs there are more people who could do the senior jobs well than there are senior jobs. So the employer can take into account other factors and still get someone good enough.

ItsGot I see the same thing in my field. It's hard to express without being accused of sour grapes. We're socialised to be happy with our lot and I think many women deal with it by focussing on the positives - spending time with kids etc - and blocking out the negatives. It's often said that the men are devoting all their time to their work but I don't see that. I see lots of men doing things that are not work related but very time-consuming in their spare time. That's all considered admirable but being perceived as someone who wants to spend their spare time with their kids is not.

Buffy I don't know how things work in academia but I'd be careful of opting out of the willy-waving if you do want to make it to the next level, unless you can see a path for non willy-waving women to make that step. I'm sure you don't need my advice but I would say I very naive (not saying you are, at all) about how things worked in that step between men and women in equal numbers and all the women disappearing.

whatdoesittake48 Wed 29-Oct-14 15:15:55

I am in my early forties and took around ten years out of my career having kids in my twenties and thirties. In fact I never went back to my previous career. I knew it meant starting at the beginning again. I tried to work in an office and was overlooked at every turn despite spending the years showing my worth. I now work freelance for myself and would avoid working in that environment again. I have self respect now and no man to answer to or defend my self from. I also have anonymity and can avoid being treated in a certain way because of my looks or my clothes.

MyOneandYoni Wed 29-Oct-14 15:19:34

I've been waiting for this thread. I thought it was just in my sector.

Yes, I have THE RAGE too.

Nobber blokes promoted out of the ball park. Women not promoted for years.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FloraFox Wed 29-Oct-14 15:40:16

I see what you mean Buffy I think that's why women have to be better than men to reach the same place. You still need to outrun your colleagues to keep ahead of the lion but you don't want to achieve that by tripping up someone else?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FloraFox Wed 29-Oct-14 15:55:24

Sorry I didn't mean to suggest it was weakness driving it.

I agree with you that collaborative approaches make women stronger and are often / usually better ways of working. I guess it's just that sometimes I think there is a lion chasing us in the workplace. Or maybe it's like we're all in a hot air balloon and someone is going to be pushed out every now and again. confused by metaphors

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 29-Oct-14 16:00:30

I see this amongst my friends now as we head through late 30s to early 40s. Often it's women who gave managed DC1 fine, but don't come back after DC2. Or who drop their hours and slowly drift into obscurity. Or who relocate for the sake of their DH's career and never quite get back on the roller coaster again

It's never the men angry

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Wed 29-Oct-14 16:23:32

Buffy - I entirely empathise with your desire for worthwhile achievements to be recognised and rewarded on their own merits without the need for endless PR and/or backstabbing. But I think that this is one of womankind's major problems in the world of work. You cannot win the game by unilaterally changing the rules to make them more moral.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 29-Oct-14 16:28:22

I'm in my early 40s and this makes me very angry too.
My career got unmanageable for various reasons and I left so I thought 'ok, I made that choice, other women I know are better at it/more determined/have more immediate family support.'
Then I was astonished and appalled to see that the super-talented, dedicated women - the ones who leaned in - weren't doing that well any more either. It was more of a shock to see that than what happened to me was, in a way, because I could always write myself off by saying 'oh well I must have been crap at it.'

I had a moment a few years ago when I was watching tv and several people I knew from teens/student days appeared on tv. One was having a symphony performed at the proms, one was a Tory MP, one had written a book.... They were all male. And as it happened, they had all been to public school.
Not that they weren't talented, but so were the women I knew (I went to a superselective girls' grammar, for a start) and where were they?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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