The subtleties of gender bias

In the eighties, I worked on a project that required me to travel with a team to a site where we had to sign in and wear badges. We went there about once every month for over a year. It drove me crazy because the security guards (both male and female) would hand me my badge and say, “Here you go, Carol,” and then hand the male team member his badge with, “Here you go, Mr. James.”

Today, thirty years later, the same thing happened. A receptionist called me “Carol,” and my husband, “Mr. Anderson.” Dang. Wouldn’t you think we would have evolved, given all of the focus on diversity and inclusion?

In the nineties, I headed a diversity initiative for a bank. One of the elephants hanging around the room in those days was the chatter among female executives who were learning to play golf because they were tired of having business discussion occur on the golf course when they weren’t there. Continue reading The subtleties of gender bias

How HR Can Change The Game

I am still processing the significant amount of commentary about HR’s role in the recent sexual harassment scandals. I wrote earlier about the demands placed on HR that keep us buried in administrivia so that we don’t have time for important work. I wrote about my own experiences as a woman in a man’s world 40 years ago.

Sometimes it just helps to write my thoughts, so let’s give that a try.

Many of us are trying to figure out why all this hoopla is such a surprise. Too many are surprised.

Now the professional media is exploding with advice for HR, so HR has added fielding #metoo sightings to its workload, and taking yet more heat for allowing predatory sexual behavior. There is even a summit with some pretty big names in the #metoo movement who will meet in New York to brainstorm how HR can more effectively stand up to harassment. Continue reading How HR Can Change The Game

I was a female Marine in the 70s

Back then we were called Women Marines, WMs or BAMs. We told ourselves that BAM stood for Beautiful American Marine, but we knew better. I was assigned a 0102 MOS [that’s military occupational specialty] as a Personnel Officer.

When I arrived at my first duty station in the Mohave Desert, I was introduced around the headquarters building, where I would be working. A crusty Lieutenant Colonel called me aside and handed me a business card. It said, “I’ve had a vasectomy.” I had just been through a few months of hell where us Second Lieutenants were put in fear of senior officers and taught to do as we were commanded. Thankfully, I had the strength to say “thank you,” and walk on.  Then I went back to my quarters and cried.

After a few weeks, I received a phone call at work from the President of the Officers’ Wives Association. She said that several people saw me eating lunch with one of the Marine Officers (who happened to be my boss) in the Officers’ Club. She suggested that I should refrain from doing that in the future. She didn’t say why. She didn’t have to. Continue reading I was a female Marine in the 70s