We All Must Be the Feminists Who Work to “Take Care of This”
I represent employees who experience gender discrimination, and several years ago one client who was surprised to be encountering bias at work said to me with disappointment, “I thought the feminists took care of this already.” I explained that while we have certainly made progress, there is a long way to go and we all need to be “the feminists who work to take care of this.”
Every day in my work, I talk with women who are doing this work. They are shattering glass ceilings. They are mentoring and supporting the women behind them. They are shedding light on the myth that a woman cannot have a successful career if she is also a successful parent. They are amplifying the voices of other women and people of color.
They are raising their hands to call out discrimination and harassment. They are questioning the unfair distribution of institutional opportunities. They are challenging gendered criticisms that require women to walk a tightrope (criticisms also highlighted by my daughter’s copy of My First Book of Feminism: “Strong is Not Bossy and Smart is Not Shrill”). They are doing so through internal channels and, when necessary, through legal channels. And they are moving on to have highly successful careers after lodging legal challenges.
They are also advocating for institutional solutions to address institutional biases. They are helping their companies and firms become educated on how to identify and counteract biases. They are advocating for changes in the law, and we are seeing a groundswell of support for federal and state laws protecting pregnant workers, addressing gender pay disparities, and holding companies accountable for discrimination and harassment.
It is because of them that I remain optimistic. We still have a very long way to go, but every day more and more people join together, as we all work to “take care of this.”