Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Job You Don't Get


I very seldom "go there" in my blogs. Our lives and jobs are so stressful already, that I prefer to focus on building community and camaraderie.

Well...this is the day I "go there". I am appealing to all of us in the GWP community to read this note from one of our young members, a junior at Clemson.  I, along with those of you who have already seen this, am appalled that anyone would be treated with this kind of discrimination and disrespect anywhere,  much less in our industry.

Here's her note:

"I was interviewing with a large printing company (who will remain nameless) today and basically got told I wouldn't be good at their pressman job because I'm a woman. I was told that I was better qualified and more experienced than everyone that they spoke to about the internship position, but that (the interviewer) "doesn't think I have the physical abilities to be able to load lifts of paper into the press and run the feeding system" (due to my smaller stature because I am a woman). I am a national champion sheetfed offset printer, representing the US in international print competition in 4 months. I just really want some feedback on this situation, any comments or advice would be appreciated."
When I saw this the first time, I had to read it again, because I couldn't believe what I was reading. I was outraged and disgusted. I posted it on the GWP Facebook page, where it circulated far beyond our actual page, accruing a firestorm of comments from people in our industry. The LinkedIn discussion has been less distributed, but every bit as provocative in the universal objection to this ridiculous, not to mention, illegal behavior. Two of my industry colleagues, Donna Maderer and Cathy Friske Lawrimore,  have featured this topic in their blogs today.

A number of comments have referenced the "good old boy" mentality in our industry. 

Well, guess what - I believe that the great majority of men in our industry agree with us that this kind of discrimination is disgusting and damaging, and are embarrassed by this neanderthal throwback. I am calling on them, as well as the women who know what it feels like to be disrespected in the workplace, to STAND UP and SOUND OFF about this.

Share this story in your blogs and discussion groups. Let the ignorant know that their behavior is neither admired nor tolerated. Show your spouses, your daughters, your sons, and everyone in your orbit your conviction that this is unacceptable behavior. Isn't it time we stopped acting like this doesn't happen? Do we not WANT young people and women to bring their gifts, talents, training and expertise to an industry sorely in need of a fresh approach?

Now...having said that, I want to personally respond to my young friend and colleague's immediate issue: the undeserved employment rejection.
Dear Little Sister:
Your experience has been a painful reminder that discrimination still exists. As much as we all want to carry firebrands, storm the castle and chase this guy until he cowers in the corner, I would like to temper all the responses with a bit of wisdom that I've learned through the years:
The job you don't get is generally the job you should be GLAD you didn't get.
Whether it involves discrimination or not, there's always an upside to not getting a particular job. You may not know what it is at the time, but I have never said, nor heard anyone say, "If only I had been given that job at XYZ Company, my life would have been perfect."
Life and careers are seldom a straightforward, perfectly illuminated path.  Instead, there are forks in the road, shadowy forests, clouds, mysterious, sometimes frightening sights and sounds, triumphs and tragedies, and most of all, just walking day-by-day and finally realizing that it's been a pretty damn good journey.   
You have already worked very hard to get to what is actually the starting line. Now you get the chance to really strike out on your own path.  Ignore the ignorant, learn from the wise, embrace the knowledge that there is something valuable to be learned from everything you encounter along your way. 
Observe, question, learn, even regret when you need to...but never stop moving forward.
It's all good, honey.
With love, respect and an abiding belief that we are better together, 
Mary Beth Smith


11 comments:

  1. Way to go, MB! Love your response, but love your commitment and passion - and in this case, disgust at gender bias - way more! Thx for all you do...

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  2. Thank you, ladies.

    Time to raise the noise level on this issue - we can shrug it off, or take a stand. I believe the good men and women in our industry are NOT willing to shrug it off!

    ;) mb

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  3. I was actually told by a woman that I would not be getting a PR/Spokesperson job with her agency because I was too pretty. Not that it hurts to look good on TV but I am good at getting the TV stations to show up. So short sighted.

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  4. It pains me to say that women can be just as likely to exhibit gender as anyone else. Short-sighted indeed. Again - The job you don't get is the job you should be glad you didn't get. Even if you don't understand it in the moment, it will be for the best...

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  5. As a minority I always put it in perspective. I am not bad enough to lose all the deals I go after and neither am I so good that I will win them all. In the end; never make excuses or look for ghost. Run faster! Be Smarter, Juggle mor prospects and you will laugh all the way to the bank!

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  6. Exactly - always good to just keep moving!

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  7. Wow. What year is it? It is very sad that we still have this kind of thinking. It's interesting that the development printing industry changed the world and is so innovative and yet we have this old school, boy's club mentality.

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    1. I guess throwbacks never completely die out. It pains me that it reinforces the idea that men hold women back. I know too many men who appreciate and value what women bring to the industry to believe we have to tolerate the neanderthals!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      :) mb

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  8. I appreciate your comment about 'learning from everything'. My husband and I learned how NOT to run a print shop by being employed by an 'old school' print shop for a year or so before we opened our own print shop. As always Mary Beth your wisdom and knowledge carries such depth! Keep on sharing with us -

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    1. Linda, thank you for YOUR wisdom and input. We do frequently learn as much from BAD examples as we do from good ones, don't we?! :)

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