I am in the my twentieth year of being in the business world. These years have come with many challenges. What happened today had happened in the past, but today I made a point not to tolerate it.
I went to a business lunch with my boss, who happens to be a male who is 8 years my senior. I am a woman and I happen to look younger than my current age of 42. We went to lunch with two men who are probably between the ages of 50 and 60. One of them was absolutely wonderful to me. He was respectful, friendly and a pleasure to be with.
The other gentleman, not so much. I knew his reputation of being a bully. But I was open-minded at first and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I asked him about his career path. As he began his story, he looked at me. But soon he dove into the details involving specifics of lending and investments. And as he got into the particulars of his story, he looked at my manager only. He went on for a good fifteen minutes like that; looking at my boss and ignoring me.
There is nothing that makes me as enraged as when I am overlooked in this manner. In the past, I may have been aggravated, but not let it known for the sake of decorum. Today, I said directly to this man,
“You’re going to need to look at me and talk to both of us if you want this luncheon to continue.”
He played it off as if he didn’t realize it and didn’t mean to do it. There is no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t call him out on it, I would have been ignored the entire luncheon. My boss was wonderful and directed the conversation my way in an attempt to fix it. But afterwards he admitted that it was very awkward for him to watch; he was truly surprised that something like that could actually happen. It’s tough to relate to that if you don’t experience it.
I am educated, I am competent and I will not be ignored. I hope every woman who experiences this kind of nonsense cuts it off right there in the moment. There’s still a great deal of work to be done.