As a graduate from a women’s centered university, I walked across the graduation stage uncertain of many things but feminism, intersectionality, and negotiation were not one of those things. I asked for my first raise at my work-study job. It confused everyone involved a little but we made it happen. As one of those, “talks excessively” kids I never had a problem sticking up for myself even if it got me in trouble. Being a Black Woman I knew there would be hurdles in navigating society but I’m a glass-half-full kind of woman and I don’t let the lack of education on equity vs equality stop me from brightening my shine.
After grounding myself from a flight attendant position I ended up in tech as a data steward and then a business analyst. I excelled at the position so much that as a contractor I absorbed a few of the others hours and my contract got extended. What I lacked in the computer science department, I picked up in transferable skills as I was fixing my family computer as a kid in between writing B2K fanfiction, running an MSN Groups forum, and Playing The Sims. Every job I’ve had pretty much was a tool for other jobs going forward.
“If you’re not taking anything away from your current position to help you grow in a future position, you’re creating a rut that will be very difficult to get out of and just wasting time.”Justdae
It took me a little over a year to go from contractor to full-time employee. I started out as an associate business analyst and was excited when someone got hired after me on the team. I got to help train the person and introduce them to some of the systems. We both worked awesome together. This person was a quick learner. About a year later this person dropped the associate from their name and I got really curious. I’m always curious and growing up with a bunch of brothers kept me on my toes. “I don’t want to be an associate anymore. I think I earned the title of business analyst,” I remember telling myself and then telling another co-worker before hyping myself up to draft an email asking for a promotion.
“No, not at this time,” was the gist of the response I got from my immediate supervisor and I sighed reading the email over and over at my desk. My mother may have raised a goofball but she did not raise a quitter. I nodded and figured since I was the person known for always addressing the elephant in the room on the team that I would go to my supervisor’s supervisor and I would continue this trend until someone said yes. I sent my supervisor’s supervisor the same exact email and I got a yes.
What if I told you that almost everyone in this story involved was a woman except for the other employee who got the promotion before me even though he was hired after me? And I trained him! I’m patient for the most part but most people would’ve given up after that first no. I can count on one hand how many black women worked in my office when we were going into the office. If I included men I could still only count on one hand the number of black people who worked in said office. The point is don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and what you deserve.
Another point is to look around and don’t be afraid to hold the door open. I read something this week that will probably stick with me forever. It said something along the lines of it doesn’t matter if you don’t meet all the qualifications for the job you want, apply for it! Let them disqualify you. Technically I don’t think I met all the qualifications for a data steward. Remember, I didn’t even know what the job was. I went to a training a few years back and was sitting next to people who graduated with degrees in statistics. If we wait for everyone to check every box in the job description then we’re going to get a lot of the same folks sitting in the same rooms with no creativity or diversity. I don’t know everything and knowing all sounds all types of boring.
What I do know is this Black History Month I’m acknowledging that The United States has made progress in equality but not so much in equity and if you don’t know what the difference is by now, equality is giving everyone the same tools no matter where they are and equity is meeting people where they are and ensuring everyone has the same opportunities.
It’s funny that Women’s History Month is right after Black History Month because when it comes to feminism I am black first and then I’m a woman. Statistically, I will make more than a Latin/Hispanic woman but less than a white woman, and way less than a white man. The trouble of trying to create a more equitable country is exhausting because the people who want to be educated aren’t the same people who are reading things like this.Justdae
I’ll make a pledge to keep breaking barriers and showing up even if I don’t feel like I belong at the table at times. It shouldn’t be my job to educate people about equity and equality but I absolutely will.