Retail manager may seem menial to most but to me it is a career in the making. I have not necessarily suffered hardships and oppression but I have suffered from ageism and sexism in regards to my title. This post is meant to shed some light on the thoughts and feelings of one young woman in a leadership role; myself.
Just 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies are held by women. In my industry, women are the majority of management and it makes me so proud to be part of a company that values diversity and individuality.
I have been shot down by customers because of my age. They ask to speak to a member of management, and I go up to assist to the best of my ability. Whether it is a direct comment or inferred, it really sets me back. My age does not in any way interfere with my knowledge and ability to get the job done yet some people will say that I don't know what I am talking about, I am just a child.
I have worked for my current company for almost seven years. I started as a part time employee working to have extra money when I was in school. I moved up the ranks based on skill, knowledge and leadership abilities. However, this gets questioned when I won't honor a discount.
I have also been looked over because I am a woman in a leadership role by customers. I have been told that they want the male manager when I refer to policy they disagree with. My response? I am the only manager available and I continue to assist them.
Not everyone is so naive to the idea of women being in powerful roles. Most are for gender equality and understand that this concept is nothing new. Women need to feel as though they are not being looked over by their customers. Customers need to realize that age is not a number and that your gender should not hold you back from succession. It's important for the development of young women to see other women in positions of power; political, societal or even within their communities.
We need to remember that we are all unique, strong and powerful individuals who offer so much to our environment. Never feel small because someone isnt caught up yet. Let them reflect on the naivety. Many historical moments were conquered by women. We have come so far in the progression of women's rights and that should be something we continue to celebrate with the younger generations.
Women have paved the way for each of us to live our truth and our passions. It’s important to remember where we were only decades ago and what we have amounted to.
Amelia Earhart is the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane, 1928
Katharine Graham becomes the first woman to become a Fortune 500 CEO, 1972
President Ronald Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor to be the first woman on the Supreme Court, 1981
Joan Benoit wins the first women’s Olympic Marathon, 1984
Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director, 2010
The list goes on and on. It’s amazing to think of what society labels as appropriate for women versus what is obtainable by women. The world is our oyster and we will beat the odds.
You have so much to offer. Keep your head held high and reach for the stars. You were given this power for a reason. Never feel like you don't deserve it.