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How do you deal with people who tell you that you can't do this job/career?

As a women and a person of color how do you handle oppression, discrimination and comments of people/society tell you that don't do this, you can't handle this because of your gender and culture? #equal-opportunity #cultural-diversity #gender-discrimination #employment-discrimination #oppression-in-the-workplace #empowering-women #female-empowerment #women-empowerment

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Allison’s Answer

As a woman, I've never been told flat out that I couldn't do a job or career, but I've certainly experienced thinly veiled hints before. As a female in a male dominated field, the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is figure out what is acceptable, find a role model to help you, and find your inner fire.

Determine where you draw the line. As a consultant I've worked in a number of different places around the country that are drastically different in the way they view women. In some cities, I get called sweetheart, dearie, and darling while in others, men don't hold the door open for me. I've found that I can deal with the pet names in most places, but can't stand being treated like a secretary or event planner just because the guys have decided I'm "the girl on the team." Each person has their own line. If that line is crossed, HR or your superiors should be able to help. Sometime it is just voicing that their behavior is not appropriate and that you don't appreciate it. In today's culture with the strong women empowerment movements, that is usually enough. If not, you have the choice to accept what is going on or reach out. Talk to HR, another woman, or even another man that you trust.

Find a role model. Behind most strong women and female leaders, there is another strong woman who helped them along the way. They are the ones that inspire, mentor, and provide the support that is vital in finding your way in life. I try and surround myself with strong women both within my company and externally. They are part of the "board of directors" of my life. I created a network of people I admire and want me to succeed. They are who I ask advice from and always think about before making a big decision.

The last piece of advice is to find your inner fire. Without drive, passion, and confidence, you might listen to the people who tell you that you can't hack it. I have a poem that I repeat to myself every time I start feeling like I can't do something or when I start listening to the naysayers around me. It is called Invictus and was written by William Ernest Henley in 1875 after his leg was amputated. My favorite line is in the first stanza, "I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul." The poem goes on to basically say that as life beat the author down, he still charged on. That he, not anyone else, fate, or chance was in charge of his life. I memorized it in high school and it has carried me ever since. Find your own mantra, poem, or aspiration quote that speaks to you. Find something that will resonate in your mind and block out all the negative comments and actions around you.

Allison recommends the following next steps:

Build your own "Board of Directors" for your life
Find your inspiration

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Christina’s Answer

Hi Garima,

Hopefully I can give you some advice since I am a woman and of color. I have been where you are and it is not always easy to block out the voices that tells you you can't do something. First things first, I would find someone who would truly support you in every way but would also give you that extra push you need. If you have your mind set on something, don't let the opinions of others push you down because they are just that, opinions. I cannot tell you how many of my so-called "friends" have pushed me so far down that the only career I thought I could get was a waitressing job. Friends like that have no place in your life because they want to see you fail. Sometimes you have to filter out people like that from your life. If they can't support you now then they don't deserve to be there when you prove them wrong.

Thank you for such a honest answer. Garima J.

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Glenn’s Answer

I agree with Christina that there will always be discrimination in the world. No matter how mature YOU are, some people will refuse to change. Luckily, you should be able to pinpoint those individuals relatively easily and then CUT THEM OUT. Do not surround yourself with negative individuals. Surround yourself with friends and colleagues that make you BETTER as a person. If there is discrimination in the workplace, file a complaint. HR will handle these cases expeditiously.

Now here is the good news: the only color business cares about is green. The only metric business cares about is profitability. That is what's called the bottom line. If you continuously strive to be better and squash complacency, you will quickly find that the only thing holding many people back is their lack of drive. Seeing that you took the initiative to ask this question here, I can imagine your drive is much higher than your peers. Keep that fire lit and make the world yours.

Best of luck in your endeavors.

Thank you for such kind words Garima J.

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Subbaiah’s Answer

This is the common question that arrives at everyone's life especially in a women's life. like you cannot do this, you are from orthodox background etc. These things keep on ruling when we have some lack of positivity issue. These issues can be easily sought out by following:-

1. Empowerment: Power or authority which is given for everyone by society but the thing is we should be accurate in claiming our rights in a proper manner.

2. Gender discrimination: This is an unfair thing which we see in our society between male and female stating you are female or you are male so that you cannot do all certain things. Reason for all this is patriarchy, capitalism, religion, male self-interest.

3. Oppression: These things arrives because of prolonged cruelty and unjust treatment over the people by giving mental pressurizing them.

When people understand above concerns and when they take that as a challenge, there will be nothing for others to talk about his/her capabilities and we can reach our goals easily.

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Dina’s Answer

I love the prior comments, and I think I agree that you need a mentor (or three) to help you navigate this silliness.

I'll tell you a short story - I was a consultant back in 2000, and was on a large project with about 80 other people. We were all friendly, and enjoyed having dinner together and going out. One of the people in our group was Arab-American, and spoke with an accent. We loved him, but the city where the client was located was very homogeneous and had no interest in engaging with him. We went to a club one night, where the bouncer admitted all of us, except for our friend. We all simply walked out.

My point here is that you'll find many people who have limited time and patience with this type of mindset or behavior. Befriend them. If these other detractors are in your life, then simply tell them that you'll agree to disagree with them, and change the subject. Less is more.

Dina recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of your advocates and keep them apprised of your interests and progress
Find a good mentor who will support you during these unfortunate incidents