Guest post: Fewer doors and fewer chances

Originally a comment by iknklast on Cop on Comrades.

This is something I have been seeing more and more. Well, you (meaning me) have a college degree and a job as a professional, while I (meaning the man speaking) am [unemployed, underemployed, uneducated – fill in the blank]. And I lost my chance at a job because a [black woman, Native American, Mexican] was hired instead of me, even though I was more qualified.

First, I would like to comment on that last sentence – I have never heard of any white male (who is self-reporting) that has lost out on a job to someone more qualified. They always lost it to a woman or a person of color, and that person is always less qualified for unspecified reasons (which probably is that they are female or a person of color, but the left-leaning individual does not wish to express/understand this).

I have lost out on jobs to less qualified people – people with fewer years of experience, in some cases people who did not meet the minimum job requirements – because I was female, and as a female, I had to have requirements higher than I could achieve (in short, I had to be a male). I may have landed on my feet in the end, but it took a lot more than the men who have achieved the same status. I found fewer doors open to me, and fewer chances to excel. Perhaps someone should ask why there are so many women teaching in our college? Most people assume it’s because women are getting such a sweet deal. It isn’t. I teach at a community college, and because many of us have difficulty finding a position in the higher levels of academia, the community college is able to get women with doctoral degrees very easily – and they are willing to hire.

Why do I consider that a result of being a woman? Because in my experience in college (and I know this will not be everyone’s experience, so please don’t come in and mansplain this to me) – women were in a different position. The men were being supported by someone, someone who was paying the bills, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, and letting them do what they needed to do. The men in my college rarely graduated as quickly as the women, but this was because the women had to get out of college and get a job. Whoever was paying the bills (if it wasn’t them, which it usually was) was not about to tolerate long stays in college and long post-doc work that would allow for the amount of published papers needed to even get your application past the first stage of the process in a four-year college or a university. Our whims about educating ourselves had been humored and tolerated, but we had that piece of paper, now could we, for Chrissake, go do something useful? Which means in many cases get married and have children, but in the case of a lot of women, it means go get a job right now, and I mean yesterday. Not a post doc, which pays very poorly, but a job, a real job.

In the entire time I was in school, I saw only one woman go off for a post-doc, and she was a woman who had been left enough money when her parents died that she was able to support herself, and put her husband through college. And her husband, who held no full time job, stayed in college four times longer than she did, and spent a lot of time in Mexico doing research that earned him publications he needed to go further.

Yes, I achieved more than the men who are working class (by the way, I started pretty low myself, living most of my life in poverty). But…and this is a huge but…the obstacles that were thrown in my way were larger than men going the same path I was going. In some cases, insurmountable. And more than just what I detailed above. I also had to deal with sexual harassment, condescension, refusal to accept that my work was really my work, failure to consider me when looking for someone to fulfill an important project, etc. Meanwhile, I was in the field with the best of them, doing ecological field work that requires physical ability to complete. I was more fortunate than most on that, because my field assistant in my masters was a woman, and in my doctorate, my husband stepped into that role, so sexual harassment was not an issue in that one particular space in my life.

Now I have reached the place in my life where I am past 50, and I can be totally ignored by everyone, because I am an “old” woman. In other words, I still have to face that societal construct that says I am somehow lesser, now not only than men but also lesser than younger women, because I no longer fulfill the major status in the life of a woman – someone who is attractive to men. I should stay home and bake cookies and dust, but I refuse to stop doing science, and for that I am to be punished by being ignored.

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