A tale from a 20 something women working in STEM.
Does anyone else find it strange to walk into a room full of old white men dressed in suits ? All you can see is a sea of white hair, glasses and meat-based appetizers scattered around the buffets.
Before COVID, I used to walk straight into these rooms for my work, as I would frequently attend and present at conferences around the US and in Europe. Most often than not, I would find it incredibly difficult to connect with other attendees because we didn’t really have anything in common. Even though we all seemed to be working in the same field, my age and seemingly inexperienced self couldn’t start a conversation with big corporates VPs that have all known each other for the past twenty years.
This article won’t help you navigate these types of conversations and make friends with these guys. Rather, I wanted to share some thoughts I have been having lately about my odd relationships with older folks at work. I have noticed two very distinct trends that are colliding against one another.
Let me help you grow and empower you
I can happily report that some folks out there care about younger women. They are supportive, and are always here to land on a good advise. Perhaps we remind them of a daughter, a niece, or simply they know the hardship of being young at work and trying to find one’s path. They are encouraging you to step up, try new things, and you feel like they have your back.
…Until you cross me
It all starts going south when the voice they have been encouraging you to grow becomes too loud for them. All of a sudden, your light shadows them and these dudes think they created a monster.
Let me be more explicit. In the course of a 6-year career, both of my thesis professors threatened me with a lawsuit. I was a 25-year-old immigrant, without my family nearby, without a citizenship, and a fairly substantial student debt at the time, and they knew all of that. In my next job, I was bullied by another man that thought of himself as omnipotent, who did everything he could to get me fired including talking to my manager and spilling lies about my work with the explicit request that the company fired…