UPDATE 4/8/13- I just read this blog post from Jen Lancaster, one of my favorite memoirists. It's a good counterpoint to the seriousness of the issues of women's ego and compensation in the workplace. I promise, you will laugh: Jen Lancaster on Channing Tatum
I recently signed up for Elance, a website that finds jobs for freelancers. I want to try to make some money writing while I start the process of selling my novel. During the signup process, I had to make a list of my skills and qualifications. I haven't had to make a resume in years, and I don't work in the type of field where I have to market myself, so I'm unfamiliar with the sensation of "talking myself up." It makes me uncomfortable. Yet I consider myself a person with a decently healthy ego who generally feels pretty good about herself. So why am I having such trouble verbalizing that feeling?
Answer: Because I'm an American WOMAN.
Even in 2013, American women aren't supposed to have egos. They're not supposed to brag about themselves. Hell, even if they brag about their spouses or kids, other women secretly think nasty thoughts about them.
If you tell a woman you think she looks great, most of the time, her response will be, "I still have ten more pounds to lose," or "Oh, thanks, but I'm having a bad hair day." Not, "Thanks, I feel great!"
If you tell a woman you like her scarf/sweater/shoes, most of the time, her response will be, "I got it on sale," or "Oh, I've had this for ages." Not, "Thanks, I like it too!"
And these are woman-to-woman interactions! No men involved!
It's no wonder women are under-earning men in the workplace. It's not because of job performance or family values. It's because it's much harder for a woman to walk into her boss's office and say, "I did great work on this project, so I deserve a raise." It's still not part of our collective American female consciousness.
So today I'm encouraging my female readers to do the following:
1. If you're given a compliment, just accept it. Say thank you. And then repeat the compliment to yourself and believe it!
2. Think about your accomplishments often. Write them down and put them in a place you can see them. Be proud of yourself!
3. Try reading about and channeling powerful women. I haven't yet read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, but I'm going to.
For my part, I'm going to attack that Elance profile with gusto, knowing that giving into my ego and pride in this case will get me more attention. And hopefully, more jobs!