Dear Juliana and Emily,
I recently watched The Post on a flight home from California and was deeply moved. On the surface, themes like freedom of speech, boldness, and intellectual honesty are present and powerful. However, the most moving scene for me was when Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) walked down the stairs of the courthouse surrounded by women admiring her courage.
I do consider myself fortunate that I am surrounded by women at both home and work. It’s no secret that I am outnumbered at home. I also work at an unusual place in which more than 50 percent of the leaders between me and the CEO are women and the most influential people in my industry (that might seem normal by the time you can read but it isn’t now).
So why did I tear up at a throwaway scene at the end of The Post? Because that movie takes place before I was born and the lesson of that scene still is not obvious to everyone.
For context, Eugene Meyer ran the Washington Post and then passed it to his son in law (Kay’s husband) Philip Graham, when Philip died his wife Kay took over. A woman running a business was rather unusual then, and the men that surrounded her did not think she was up for the job simply because she was a woman. Isn’t that crazy?
It is crazy. But, I am hopeful. Overwhelmingly the data does not call for optimism, but I do see people that want things to change. I also think that if we continue to make women’s equality in the workplace a priority it will change by the time you are applying for your first job.
What will change? Equal pay will probably be first, at least in white-collar jobs in developed countries (global pay equity is way behind). More women in leadership and founder roles at companies. But I hope it’s more than that. What about women not being the default note taker? How about a man makes the restaurant reservation for the next team get together?
Kay Graham was a woman in a position of power and she made bold decisions. It’s now time for men to do the same.
There is a lot of talk about echo-chambers, and the one that I’m in has this fantastic noise ricocheting off the walls — that noise is acknowledging the inequality and actively working on fixing the challenges.
For now, you two work on your playing skills and going to bed on time — but know that I and the other mommies and daddies are working on a better future.
Originally published at medium.com
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