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Being self-employed allowed woman to avoid discrimination

I've been in management for about 35 years now. While I'm not exactly on Wall Street, I'm in the business world and I'm qualified to say what I'm about to say:

It's a man's world.

Yep. Just ask most any man, and he'll tell you that's true.

As for me, I've been lucky. I haven't really been subjected to discrimination to the extent that it's gotten in my way, though I'd have to say that's my own dumb fault. There were years when I could have run with the big boys, but I was too self-absorbed and ignorant to care enough to try very hard. By the time I got truly ambitious I was self-employed, and by then I was on my own track. Even if there was discrimination, there was no stopping me in my very small agenda.

Early on, I was in middle management at a busy hotel in the Dallas area. One day, my boss gave me my paycheck, and handed me my co-manager's check (which was in an unsealed envelope) and asked me to give it to him.

I don't know what came over me, but I headed straight for the bathroom, went into the stall, and opened the envelope to see what this guy was making, compared to me. And guess what ... it was about $3,000 more a year than my salary, and we were fairly lateral in our positions.

So I asked for more money  and got it. End of story, but there was a lesson in there that has stuck with me ever since.

Right now I serve on a board of professionals that is predominately male. To quote one of the board directors, in fact, the group is mostly "pale, male and stale." While I enjoy serving, and admire pretty much everyone in the room, I thought that was well-put.

At our last session, a veteran member stood to address the group, which included me, about 60 men and 10 other women, and here's what he said to open:

"Gentlemen, I think we all know what we need to do here ... "

An oversight, I'm sure.

Or like the salesman who rang the doorbell at my house and said "I'm so glad you answered the door, because we all know the women in the house make all the decisions." And later: "Is your husband home?"

Ah, you men. We may be the gentler sex, but you are the masters of putting your foot in your mouth.

Anyway. So now I have one daughter working in corporate America, though you could say it's on the outskirts. Already she's noticed the disparity in how she and her male counterparts are treated. Little things, like when the company gets together for an event, the men golf and the women get a spa day. Spa days are nice, but if all the company big shots are golfing, the women get left behind.

Or there's another young girl I know, just breaking into the workforce, who tells of a client who doesn't want women in their place of business because they might get hurt. She tells of another client who made her female predecessor cry when he called her a "walking vagina."

I'm sorry. If I anyone called my daughter that I think I'd have to go and have a very strong word. Perhaps even kick some butt. Fathers, how would you feel if you knew someone said that to your daughter?

Generally, I am very tolerant of different viewpoints and beliefs. I grew up in Texas and I understand rednecks and am occasionally fond of one or two. I don't get hung up on needing to be treated a certain way, and I even feel that often select groups are overly sensitive and make too much of their own causes, just for the sake of their causes.

But I know there's an inequality out there that needs to be addressed, needs to be discussed, needs to be corrected. And until more men and women stand up and speak against it, it also needs to be fought.

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