My Thoughts Exactly

Where were the women in this office?  Oh yeah, working at the restaurant around the corner . . .

Where were the women in this office? Oh yeah, working at the restaurant around the corner . . .

Dear Lisa Miller at (Are you the Lisa Miller from my favorite show Newsradio? You probably get that all the time.):

Thank you for explaining what I’ve been thinking since grad school, just haven’t been sure how to verbalize.

We all need models:  inspiration rooms / inspiration outfits / inspiration people / whatever.  For example, I could finally decide what to wear to my high school reunion this summer after first seeing it pulled together (so well, Emmanuelle Alt,) on someone else. Additionally, there’s a whole vocabulary floating around a certain American demographic that comes directly from HGTV (e.g. my dad uses the terms “curb appeal” and “reno” now).  And what hip hop music has done to the mainstream white population of the US that has so blatantly appropriated it is another post for another day.

The point is, once we see it done, we know the way.  It’s the age-old apprentice approach.

I’m remembering the former director of my department who worked three jobs to make her life happen while simultaneously caring for her aging mother.  She was tough, fair, and encouraging when she hired me.  She was experienced both professionally and academically.  She was an actual mentor who visited classrooms, gave feedback, and treated me like a colleague instead of an employee.  She was also replaced a year later.  By a man with a PhD.  Since I know how he got where he is, and since I’m trying to advance in a situation not set up for me to win, your piece verbalized my need for my former director’s model—for any model that looks like the possibilities that could come from a life like mine.

So while I wait for the revolution that will be female leadership in the workplace (and will look like fantastically dressed multitasking), I think I have a thank you note to write.


A. Olson


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