Face stereotypes or flee?

facing stereotypesI belong to a business club downtown. It’s a great place for meetings, one-on-one discussions and the occasional introspective time (fueled by their extraordinary chocolate chip cookies).

There were two of us in the member’s library that rainy afternoon – a white-haired gentleman and me. The gentleman had been on phone call after phone call, and I was in my “happy place” — a reflective frame of mind where I’m blissfully alone and totally immune to what’s going on around me.

Suddenly I’m aware of a shouting voice…one that’s directed at me. Continue reading


Furthering Gender Stereotypes? Me??

On the first day of school three of my girlfriends and I escaped for a simply decadent afternoon at the swimming pool. All morning as I packed lunches, checked book bags I had a silly grin on my face. I was looking forward to playing hooky with my friends. As my seven-year old daughter, Grace climbed in my SUV she spied my pool bag. She was completely perplexed. She questioned me as to why would the pool bag be in my car? Did  I not realize summer was over and school had started. When I explained that while she was at school I was retreating with my friends to the pool. Her expression was priceless. She was completely aghast that I would consider going to the pool without her. Today I was not only going to the pool without her but I was going to the pool while she was in school! Continue reading


Why are women not seen as leadership experts?

One day it hit me that very few women are included in the multitude of leadership guru/expert lists.*  Great women lead big organizations.  A number of women are noted writers and educators on the topic. So what’s up with the shortage of estrogen on the lists that garner all the attention?!

I decided to ask male colleague for his thoughts. Our intriguing exchange… Continue reading


Stereotype speed bumps in my career path

Little did I realize that one of my first decisions as a newly promoted manager would be to decide if I was going to be the nice girl who poured the coffee or the b—- who refused to do so.

Twenty years or so ago, it was my second day on the job as the new HR manager for a meat processing company with 2500 employees working in five plants in three states. I was the first ever woman on the management team. It was the weekly staff meeting, my first in my new capacity.

Without looking up, one of my male peers asked, “Hey Jane, I need a refill on this cup of coffee. Pour me a cup, would ya?”

Pete (not his real name!), who was sitting next to the coffee carafe, chimed in with his request to pour one for him, too.

Sheesh. Not exactly the call to participation or welcome I was hoping for. What to do, what to do, the words good girl and b—-h were dancing in my head. Neither label was one I wanted as I started my new duties. The meat-packing industry at the time was heavily male, so I knew this sort of show-down was inevitable. I just hadn’t figured it would happen so soon.

As my mind raced, I stood up and moved to the back of the room to retrieve the coffee pot. My plan was set.

Stepping in beside Pete, I sloshed coffee into his cup — and on his notepad. Not saying a word, I moved over to Bill’s (again not his real name) side of the table, filling both his cup and the saucer with coffee.

“Jeez girl! You’ve got to be more careful next time,” exclaimed Pete as he wiped off his notepad. Bill was nodding vigorously in agreement.

“Fellas, there won’t be next time,” I said lightly with a smile, taking my seat. “We’re very thoughtful about our past practices given the labor climate, so I see no reason to change the past practice of each person attending to their own coffee needs, especially since I make no claims about the accuracy of my pours! Agreed?”

They agreed, and I escaped without getting labeled from the “coffee-pouring” ritual…which seems to be a rite of passage for many women in business based on stories I’m told. What’s yours? Has there been a stereotype that tripped you up or nearly did so?

Quote image from Naked with Socks On