This post is a follow up to a previous blog post, Make it Sparkle.
Just when you start to think – maybe this time it will be different – the universe has a way of kicking out from under you to ensure you don’t become complacent.
My current boss is roughly 34-35 weeks pregnant. Close enough that she soon won’t be able to fly and is currently on a pregnancy profile.
For anyone unfamiliar with what a pregnancy profile entails, it is medical guidance from the doctor limiting your hours of work per week, which military gear you can and cannot wear and which systems you can or cannot operate (i.e. no more than 5 minutes standing or no more than 8 hour work days). You get my drift.
Needless to say, she has been working hard and our higher leadership has paid no mind to the fact that she is growing another human. Sad part is I am not surprised in the least and I don’t think many others are either.
But she’s a trooper and knows her limits (baby no. 4 on the way, ya’ll!). However, today, for me, I reached my end.
“Where’s the PAO?” asks an officer much higher ranking than me.
–I’m right here, sir!
“No, I mean the real PAO,” he retorts.
“She’s exercising her pregnancy profile,” responds a second officer with distaste and dripping with sarcasm and disdain.
Laughter erupts from 1stofficer and senior enlisted advisor…
THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE I SWEAR IT PLEASE SOMEONE WAKE ME UP FROM THIS DREAM!
My blood begins to boil, my heart racing, my hands shaking. Someone needs to control the LT because I am unsure how I hold my tongue.
Then I pause. I glance around the room. Today, just like every other day, I am the only female present. Is no one else paying attention? There are so many officers in this room. Someone has to speak up.
How do you, as the lowest ranking officer in the room, correct 3 senior members of the command team regarding the tone they have just set for a female member of their unit to be pregnant while in uniform? How do you react? Do you say anything at all? Why is it funny that a senior ranking member of the staff has worked every day for a month straight and left work ON TIME PER HER PROFILE for once?
I’ll tell you what – it isn’t funny. It’s appalling these men find it humorous. Following this meeting I stopped 3 separate officers (higher ranking than me, but lower ranking than those involved in the conversation) to inquire if they had overheard the discussion regarding my boss.
2 of the 3 had. The other asked when the command climate survey would be out. None of them felt filing a complaint or addressing the matter was ‘worth it’.
So once again, that leaves me somehow witness/part of another sexist incident establishing a negative climate for equal opportunity (be sure to read Make it Sparkle for a summary of my past encounters). I sure wish their wives could have all been “a fly on the wall” for that one.
What would you have done or would you do? How do you rectify this behavior without creating a target on your own back? How do you prevent this from becoming a pattern in your workplace without being ‘the problem child’?