Thursday, August 16, 2012

We Run the World

This week at work, I published an article titled "What it's like for the girl gamer" on our website. No, I know next to nothing about the world of hardcore video-gaming (my expertise is limited to Mario Kart and Wii Bowling), but I try to read (skim) most of the stories I publish.

I was more than a little doubtful that I'd even be interested in the article, but I have to admit, it sucked me in. And not because the gaming angle, but because I could relate to the fact that women are struggling against male-dominated realities, even in the realm of virtual reality. (Something I never even thought about.)

The first time I really remember feeling discriminated against because of my gender was, believe it or not, at my job at the Christian college I attended. My direct boss, the man who hired me, refused to ever promote me during the three years I worked for him. In fact, during my third year, he put someone (a guy) who had just started that day, over me on a shift we shared. (We had this system where there had to be one "head" employee per shift, someone to be in charge and make sure everything was done correctly.) After spending the whole shift training the guy on the basics, I was disgusted.

I guess I had thought gender discrimination was a thing of the past, especially in a school built on solid morals and ethics. But even there, favoritism played a villainous part, and it caught me off guard. I struggled through the knowledge that even though I was an experienced, dedicated and hard-working employee, I would never get to that coveted role of head supervisor.

In the years after, I almost expected to be passed over for promotions. It was a struggle not to subconsciously accept my past experiences as the norm. However, somewhere deep inside, the fighter in me refused to give in. Instead of taking a backseat, I decided to ask for a raise two years later at my job in Colorado. And you know what happened? I got the raise, and the company promoted me after less than a year.

That's when I realized two things. First, just because I was a woman in the male-dominated working world, didn't mean I deserved less, or should be treated as less. And second, most times, women have to push a little harder for what they want than men.

Fast-forward a few years to my current job (I consider it a promotion as it was a step up in the company from a reporter to an editor), which I was offered and enthusiastically said I wanted. It became another learning opportunity. This time, I learned that in a company that does things the right way, hard work and a striving for excellence will be recognized and (hopefully) rewarded.

On assignment last year at Erie Airpark in Erie, Ill. (Clinton Herald)

Sometimes it's hard to bounce back after you've been burned, but that's the only way to see progress. And even though it's 2012, progress is still needed, whether in the work world, or the gaming world, or in sports and school. Women have had to fight for hundreds of years to get what they want, what they deserve, and we still have to fight now.

So to all my chicks out there, I say this: keep on fighting! Whatever you choose to do, wherever you live and however you spend your time, remember that progress isn't over. Anywhere you can step up for women, do it, even if it seems very small. As Beyoncé has so eloquently sung, "Who run the world? Girls!"

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