The Female Career Path

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On The Interview:

“Oh you’re a woman?”

You were expecting a man, based solely on the name I share

With men and women

I see surprise and concern etched on your face

Discomfort and frustration hidden on mine

You say it like it’s a bad thing:

WOMAN

As if I can’t do the work

As if my gender ruins my name for you

As if I’m less than you deserve

“Yes,” I say politely with a smile, “I’m a woman.”

 

On Getting Started:

“Come on, you can take a joke, right?”

You say it like you need it to be true

Like if I can’t take the joke

That makes me

Cold

Standoffish

Too sensitive

I’ve only just started, I think I can take it

Can I take the joke?

“Yes,” I say kindly, but with less of a smile, “I can take a joke.”

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On Sexual Harassment:

“I feel like I’m walking on eggshells around here.”

You say it like you’re the victim

You feel falsely accused

A lingering touch

An unwanted hug

An inappropriate comment

You’re worried about the accusation

I’m worried about coming to work today

“Yes,” I say without a smile, “It does feel tense around here.”

 

On Maternity Leave:

“We couldn’t just wait around for you to get back, so we had to promote someone else.”

You say it like I’m to blame

As if you had no other choice

There I was, laboring to bring new life into the world

Now, I have to start all over again

Laboring for the promotion that should have been mine

“Yes,” I say on my way out the door,

“But you said it would be waiting when I came back.”

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On Distractions:

“From now on, maybe you should dress more conservatively.”

You say it like I shouldn’t have curves concealed by my clothes

As if I don’t have legs beneath these pants that come to my ankles

As if I shouldn’t have breasts under the blouse that covers everything

But I do

“Yes,” I say with a professional nod, “I understand.”

But I don’t

 

On Rising Up:

“We’ve worked hard to get you here.”

You say it with pride

You know I can do the work

You say it as if you held my hand the whole way

As if you always believed in me

As if you know who I am

As if you know what I’ve been through

“Yes,” I say with a wide grin, “I worked hard to get here.”



Author: Kelly Friday

Kelly is an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a major in Health Information Management and a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. She is dedicated to the University’s Handbell Ensemble, of which she is the Vice President and currently holds a student position in the Infectious Diseases Division at Pitt. When she isn’t trolling for new music for the Ensemble, she spends her free time wandering bookstores, always on the hunt for the next gripping page-turner. As part of the Make Muse Team, she uses her experience in the male-dominated professional sphere to empower more women to join the competitive workforce, particularly in underrepresented fields.