Why Inequality Led Me to Leave My Job During a Pandemic


Living the dream?

2019 was a year for me. I had been in my new post, working for a global Fortune 500 company for over a year. I had worked for that same company for almost 9 years. This was the job, I had worked towards my entire career. I had pulled out every stop. I had worked away from home for more nights than I care to remember. I did everything I had to do to make myself the best. I tried and I tried. I worked all hours of the day and night. No different to most these days.

In a way, I represent a lot of working-class people.

Spending time going over and back from one meeting to another. Filing countless reports; attending conferences and networking gigs; with countless meetings about meetings. Late-night deadlines, chasing promotions, personal development goals, year-end reviews. Regret over saying the wrong thing, regret over saying the right thing. You get my drift.

I knew I had to work. My husband was at home with the children and it was an arrangement that worked for us. We lived in a rural part of Ireland and I commuted to Dublin and the UK from a local airport. Leaving my family broke me, many times. This being said, I loved my actual job. It was a very social outlet and I was busy doing all of the things that made me burst with pride. I learned many new skills, met some wonderful people, and made great connections.

So, what happened?

There were infinite ingredients, in this delicate recipe. While the job itself was what I always wanted, I found myself frustrated and overwhelmed trying to claim a seat at ‘The Big Table’. The job itself required as much information as possible to be able to do the work to the best of my ability. I needed to be part of conversations to understand future direction and priorities. This didn’t happen and I was flying blind.

I ended up having more than a few demeaning interactions. This, of course, deepened my frustration and more importantly impacted my job. Even though I had proven time and again that I was beyond capable, I never seemed to cut the mustard. I wasn’t accepted.

The thing is, I didn’t realize what was happening until it happened.

There were nights I cried myself to sleep over conversations with a superior. What could I have done better? Don’t get me wrong, there were times, praise was lavished upon me. I wasn’t completely thrown out in the cold. But it was not the praise I needed.

I tried time and again to gain access to a club that only one sex may enter: The ‘Boys Club’. I was a woman on a mission to nowhere. There wasn’t a hope. I won’t get into details of the how’s and what’s but when it came down to the wire, this was the reason I tapped out. I couldn’t take another second of it. I was out. Hands down, game over, time out.

The moment

One day after a conference call, that could only be described as laughable, I was asked to remove myself from the group of men on the call so that they could continue their conversation without me. I was informed they needed to discuss something that I didn’t need to hear or be part of. I was the only one asked to leave the call. This was my turning point. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Inequality was something I had experienced before.

As a child, my teacher often told me to go home. He said he would have an intelligent conversation with the boy next to me, who happened to be a genius by the way. I, on the other hand, lacked any talent. Or so I thought. It had been drilled into me by this teacher and principal of the school that the male sex was by far, the more superior sex.

It was mentioned on numerous occasions that I would amount to nothing. He never told me I was stupid, but as a consequence of his behavior towards me, I spent many years trying to prove that I was more than he led me to believe. I’m a firm believer that my experiences with men, from this point on, were filled with me trying over and over to prove myself and push through the notion that I was more. I see now, that I wasn’t the problem.

The snowball

I know now, that all these experiences of inequality could be likened to a snowball, growing bigger and bigger with each snowstorm. Traveling from one hill, down towards the next, gaining momentum. With each experience of inequality, my need for acceptance got bigger. My want for inclusion only deepened. In reality, what I only hoped for, became unreachable.

In truth, there will always be hard times in a job. There will always be people who don’t see things your way or people and groups who put up walls. This is life. Is it fair? Hell no. But you don’t have to stay there. You can move on. Even if you have a husband, 2 children, and a mortgage to take of. There is another way. You will find it. It will come to you. Don’t waste your best years, crying as I did. Exasperated and angry about things that in the end, don’t actually matter. You matter. Your family matter. Your thoughts, feelings, and opinions matter.

You and I decide

Exclusion will always be in existence. Until the end of time, I imagine. Inequality has reigned since the beginning of time. I see it on every side of society.

It will not end until we ALL refuse to allow it.

As my daughter grows, I will tell her that she does not have to accept this type of behavior. I am not naive enough to think that it won’t affect her. In fact, I am sure that it will at some point. What she does with it though, is what’s important.

If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some. (Courtney C. Stevens, The Lies About Truth).