After a grueling job search, I finally landed my dream job for a company working in online security. I got to use my love for writing and technology in a way that allowed me to help other people. I was particularly excited for the opportunity to make a difference helping women stay safe.
Given that it was my first job out of college, I didn’t know what to expect as far as work environment goes. I guess I figured that I would instantly be friends with all of my co-workers and that I would work with a lot of other women passionate about the same things as me. While I had heard about gender inequality in the work place, I never thought I would experience it personally, especially in California.
My first day at work I was shown my new office and got started on my training, then I was introduced to the co-workers I would be working with in the marketing department. The company I worked for was a decent size – I would say there were approximately 300 employees at this point and I worked closely with about 50 of them. I quickly noticed something interesting: in my office space I was the only woman employee. I assumed that maybe some of the other women were in a meeting or something, but I later realized there were only six women out of the 50-or-so people I worked with.
The longer I stayed at that job the more I started to realize how much the technology industry is dominated by men. This trend is probably something you’ve heard of, but since this was my first work experience of any kind I had no idea that women were still so outnumbered. Don’t get me wrong, my male co-workers were all great people but I couldn’t help but worry if I was only hired because I was a woman, like maybe they needed to fill a quota.
As I mentioned before, I got to work with a lot of our female customers and try to help them protect themselves. I loved this aspect of my job in particular. Once I got comfortable in my job duties, I began thinking about why we as a society allow men to dominate these types of professions. Shouldn’t it at least be an equal ratio in order to properly understand what our female customer base is looking for? I really loved my job and the company, but I was unsatisfied feeling so outnumbered.
I stayed at this job for three years, and throughout that time I watched my male co-workers get promoted more quickly and get raises more easily than I was able to. At first it was because I was new but then it started to become routine. I realized there was a reason this company was lacking female employees: with the way they ran things there was no chance they could retain any women in these jobs.
As I became more dissatisfied with my job, I applied for other similar positions elsewhere. Finally, I got an interview for a better, higher-paying job doing something within my area of interest. I was so happy when I got to my interview and was greeted by a woman. She interviewed me and eventually offered me the job. Now I still get to do what I love – working to help women – but I am able to do so in a new workplace where there is an almost equal gender ratio.
We might get caught up in thinking that gender inequality in the work place doesn’t exist but the sad truth is that it still does. As a woman, I know that I can fight back from this by sharing my experience with other women and trying to raise awareness about this issue that seems to have been forgotten.