This I Believe

Holly - Raleigh, North Carolina
Entered on April 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: equality
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Sexism today has been accepted in so many instances, that we don’t even notice that it happens. We are still in an era where women are comfortable with “women’s” jobs, and men still stick to more “men-like” jobs. However, there are still some women that have the ambition and drive to surpass those men and be, for example, CEO’s of large companies. Although it wasn’t an extremely large company, I had a first hand experience of sexism, not to myself, but to a coworker.

I was working in an office building downtown, one of the tall skyscrapers. It was a banking building; I was working part-time as a secretary. There was an intern program through this banking center where I saw many deserving men and women come through experiencing for the first time the “real world”. There would usually be three or four interns at a time, mostly males. One summer, a girl named Haley was hired for the internship. Three other guys joined her to all see who could get the best job after the internship was over. Haley was a graduate of Duke University with a double major in Finance and Economics. The other men were still in college finishing up their degrees. So, Haley had the upper hand already. I watched many unfortunate things happen to Haley by being around men all day. They made jokes about how she probably would not get the job because she was a girl. They would ask her for dates and make sexist comments. Haley put up with it because she wanted the job so badly. She was by far the fastest learner of all the interns and without a doubt the most productive and deserving. When the internship was over, Haley did not get the job. It was given to one of the other male interns.

This made me very furious and I knew I had to do something about it. I spoke to Haley and asked her what she thought. She was very disappointed in the situation because she knew that she deserved the job. We decided to take this to court. After doing some research, we discovered that this company was infamous for discrimination and this wasn’t the first time they had been taken to court. There had been many discrimination suits against them in the past, and this one was no different. The company failed to give an adequate reason for the discrepancies in their hiring processes. In the end, Haley was given money for this inconvenience. Ironically, it was probably more money than she would have made if she had gotten the job in the first place.

This experience inspired Haley to work with feminist groups to ensure equality for both men and women. She is now president of an active feminist group in the area and most of her work is devoted to equality in the work force.