When standing on shoulders of giants, please consider…
Dear Wellesley sisters,
A few weeks ago, I got into a taxi and started chatting with my driver about politics. He asked me who I would be voting for, and when I replied, “Hillary,” his immediate reaction was, “Is it just because she’s a woman?” I wanted to say to him, “Are you supporting ____ just because you both have dicks?” but I refrained and continued my ride in silence.
A few weeks before that, I got into a taxi and my driver asked me what I did. When I told him that I worked for Venmo, his immediate reaction was, “You do UX or Design, right?” I wanted to say to him, “No. Also, our Head of Engineering is a woman,” but again, I refrained and continued my ride in silence.
Now that I have lived a handful of years outside of Wellesley, I find myself being silenced by the sheer exhaustion of having to deal with this type of subtle sexism every day. And for those of you who know me, you know that I am not a quiet woman.
Wellesley is a magical place where 100% of student leadership positions are held by women (past, present, or future)*. It is a place where women are inspired and encouraged to do anything men can do, where women can speak to figures of authority (our dear professors) and know that we will be judged for content and substance rather than for our tone or likability. When I was at Wellesley, I lived in a world where sexism was truly dead.
Although I appreciated all of the work that my predecessors had done for me and my generation of women, I did not fully comprehend the extent of what they had gone through in order to lift me up onto their shoulders so that I might see further and reach higher than they were ever permitted. I also did not appreciate how incredibly dangerous it is for women to live in a world where sexism is alive and well, but people believe it to be dead. When people believe sexism to be dead, they become less vigilant about losing all of the gains we have made towards equality. When people believe sexism to be dead, women who are victims are made out to be liars. When people believe sexism to be dead just because it has become more subtle, women, like myself in those taxi rides, become silenced.
Wellesley women — I have great respect for you and your opinions. I will never tell you to go against your personal convictions, even if it means voting for Donald Trump. However, as someone who is a handful of years out of Wellesley, I am writing to tell you that your future selves might be filled with regret if you do not consider voting for Hillary, at least in part, because she is a woman. Here is why.
Please consider: As recently as 1979, a company called American Cyanamid forced women to be sterilized or lose their jobs. My sister was born in 1979.
Now consider: In 2015, a company recruited and fired several incompetent men for a managerial position. When a woman on the team asked her superiors why she was never considered for the role despite being asked to run the team whenever the role was unfilled in the interim, they responded, “We didn’t think you wanted it because you have children.” However, she asked the question too late. An offer was already made to another man.
Please consider: In 1963, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the 2nd female law professor at Rutgers and was told that she would be paid less than her male peers because “you have a husband who earns a good salary.”
Now consider: In 2015, a woman (Wellesley ’09) at a consulting firm was promoted along with a few male colleagues who started in her class. She discovered that their promotion entailed a 50% higher increase than her own. When she challenged this disparity, she was asked to justify why she deserved a 50% increase to match that of her male coevals. She was one of the highest rated consultants in her class.
Please consider: In 1973, Roe v. Wade was heralded as a victory for the women’s rights movement. However, the court did not support a woman’s right to choose; it supported privacy between physician and patient, and supported a physician’s right to choose.
Now consider: In 2016, 20 states have unconstitutional and unenforceable procedure bans that could outlaw abortion as early as the 12th week of pregnancy, with no exception to protect a woman’s health. In 2016, several presidential candidates treat Planned Parenthood as if it were our greatest threat to national security.
Please consider: In the 1960s and 1970s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was rejected for Second Circuit judicial position, as well as several other positions, despite being the most qualified applicant.
Now consider: In 2016, Hillary Clinton may be rejected for President despite being the candidate with the most experience in healthcare, children’s rights, women’s rights, national, and international politics.
Obviously, you should consider a candidate’s policies; you can compare candidates here. However, if you are a woman (past, present, or future), I urge you to also consider all of the above. If a Democratic nominee were to be defeated by a Republican candidate, us women have much more to lose than do men. All of the gains for which our predecessors fought will be threatened.
Wellesley women whom I love, in large part simply because you are women — women who will go on to do great things — I implore you to consider the tremendous hurdles that women like Hillary Clinton faced so that you could live in a world with fewer, and smaller hurdles. As a working woman previously in consulting and currently in tech, I am telling you that those hurdles still exist. They exist in the U.S., and they exist much more acutely across the globe. So, I leave you with this: Please consider the above before you stand on the shoulders of giant women and take a giant shit on them.
*In recognition of our transgender community