Most people that know me know that I’m the proud mother of three beautiful, bright young women.
When my girls were younger, I encouraged them to follow their dreams and build the future that they wanted. As a working mom, I could only hope that I led by example—that they would see they could enter the workforce as a woman and not come up against discrimination.
If only that were true.
My girls are all grown, and fighting to provide for themselves in a nation that is still dominated by men—a nation that claims to fight for women, yet has still to put a woman in that most-coveted position at the top. A nation that still pays women .78 cents to a a working man’s dollar. A nation that is still watching women fight for the same rights that men have had for years.
At least there is a fight.
For the last month, the news of Ellen Pao’s discrimination lawsuit against her venture capitalist firm was plastered across the web. Even though she lost (they want an appeal), the evidence of her fight can still be seen. A small trail of breadcrumbs for the next woman to follow.
Ellen Pao could have taken a settlement, as many women in her field do. They do it with their heads held high—and can we blame them? They do it to salvage their careers. To walk away from the discrimination without a tarnished reputation. These women are fighters.
What’s different about Ellen’s case is that she deliberately took her fight public in order to raise awareness—not just for women in her field, but for men and women everywhere to see the kind of playing field that’s out there. She did it so that those that followed would be less afraid—to fight, to play, to just get out there.
Though she brought just a small view of what’s going on in a male-dominated tech and venture capitalist world—glimpses of male only trips and the idea that she didn’t have the “right personality”—that she brought forth her view at all is what’s important.
That’s what I’d tell my girls if I were raising them again. That there may be a fight—but you still have to get out and play.