He continued: “There are definitely opportunities for women in the workplace. Though, if I am being honest, it takes certain…attributes to overcome those barriers.”
This man wasn't the first to make an insinuation in my direction about the types of female bodies that are deemed "acceptable" in the workplace. I am big. I am not big-boned. I am fat, overweight, heavy, obese. If there is an adjective that means I don’t fit the mold of what our culture demands of women, then that's the one for me. I am seen as too much: too tall, too loud, too plain, too opinionated, and all too willing to forgo convention and ask for more.
I entered a male-dominated field shortly after high school. I was good at my job. My superiors reaped the benefits of the relationships that I was able to establish and solidify with clients. They utilized my data analysis and efficiency skills to increase production. They also passed me over, time and time again, for promotions — instead favoring less-qualified male candidates. According to my bosses, my appearance “didn’t meet the image” that the company was trying to project. Where was the incentive to move me up the ladder? They could promote a male figurehead who wouldn’t offend their prejudiced views of what was acceptable and still keep me where I was, to do the work that needed to be done. My gender and size were liabilities. The return on investment on my career was a calculated risk that wasn’t worth taking — not when they could have their cake and eat it, too.
Some time later, I was contacted by a dental office in a nearby town that was looking for a new patient care coordinator. A former colleague of mine worked there, and she had encouraged her employer to reach out due to my past work performance. When I got the call, I was sure this was my exit out of my stagnant position. I did a phone interview; they loved me. They hired me, sight unseen.
“Come on in on Monday. We'll get your paperwork sorted and get you started. You are amazing. I am excited to have you on board," the hiring manager said.
I showed up for my first day, dressed and pressed and ready to go. They pulled me into a private room. Apparently, I was not what they needed. My services were no longer required. Just like that, I was dismissed.
What I've realized is: I'm over it. And I was absolutely over it with the man in front of me.
I stopped typing and turned to face him.