As the #metoo campaign swept across my Facebook feed, gathering strength from the countless stories of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, and eventually reaching tsunami strength as it approached halls of power, it occurred to me that I didn’t really have my own story to share. At least not one like the many I was reading.
I’m sure people from my very conservative upbringing would have their own explanation to offer–as if the body-shaming, sexism, and misogyny of religious patriarchy somehow deserves credit for this absence. And as if family reunions and churches aren’t crawling with perpetrators, collaborators, and silenced survivors.
As I began to think through each job I’ve held over the past two decades, I realized that almost all my bosses have been women. Aside from a couple male-female co-supervisor situations, I’ve never directly reported to a male boss*.
Now let’s be clear–some of those women were certainly difficult to work for, and I have no complaints about the one male boss I did have.
But surely it’s not just coincidence that I haven’t experienced the workplace harassment and assault that so many, many women have AND have primarily worked for women. What if supporting more women in positions of professional authority isn’t only a matter of basic justice and fairness but also about making workplaces safer for everyone?
*I suppose having a male academic chair for a year would count, although “chair” and “boss” are not interchangeable terms.