Sunday, September 23, 2018

Perspective ~How Things Have Changed Since I Joined the Workforce in 1980

Perhaps if the pussy hat wearing angry hordes of women were to study a bit of recent history, they would be celebrating how far we women have come in a few decades rather than scream with anger and indignation that we haven't come far enough. It is also reasonable to reflect that women were not granted the right to vote until August 18, 1920 by the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which was not ratified for 42 years after it was first introduced in Congress by Senator Aaron Sargent of California. We are still 2 years shy of the 100th anniversary.
Comparatively, I began my career as a field claim adjuster for  Commercial Union Assurance Companies in 1980, as a not-yet-21 year old university graduate. CU hired 2 women trainees that year in Indiana - me in Indianapolis and another in Muncie. We were the first field claims adjusters hired for CU in Indiana. That was merely 38 years ago. 

When Mary and I started at CU we were not greeted with open arms. Instead, the mostly middle aged men treated us with disdain, made sexist comments, told jokes that would now get them fired, openly read "girly" magazines, enjoyed 3 martini lunches, asked us to fetch them things, and made bets on how quickly they could get us to quit. There was resentment because claims was a man's world filled with chain smoking, grumbling, sans-a-belt pants wearing, clip-board carrying, rough edged guys that  knew how to talk with body shop managers, contractors, police officers, fire inspectors and trades people.  Not only did we have to learn the job, we had to do it better. We had to prove that we could climb on roofs, stand in the middle of intersections to take photos and make diagrams, inspect machinery, walk through  fire scenes, estimate damages, separate truth from fiction, determine causes of loss, evaluate injury claims, drive to addresses or accident scenes without GPS or cell phones, schedule meetings without computers, dictate correspondence, and deflect questions from people as to when we would "get married and quit". 

At one point, I realized I'd been a quota hire and it pissed me off. I marched into my manager's office filled with frustration that I'd been hired because they HAD to start hiring women. He just looked at me and asked: how do you know you weren't the best person for the job? Wow! That shut me up!

To survive in that environment during the 1980's women had to be strong -willed, determined, smarter, faster, better and prepared to be one of the guys. We also had a lot of laughter - albeit some of it would now be considered most inappropriate. The lessons I learned then prepared me for success in a dog eat dog world. I also met some wonderful men who treated me with respect and equality that I still keep in touch with today.

I feel no resentment towards those that put me through the ringer because the game me the impetus to succeed. And within 15 years, the insurance claims industry began to transition from a world almost exclusively composed of middle aged white men into a business that began to embrace diversity and inclusion.  But what we've lost in the process is the ability to celebrate how far we've come. 

We've come a long way since 1980 when women couldn't get a credit card or buy a house on her own. Let go of a bit of the anger, stop whining about micro aggressions and hurt feelings,  celebrate the achievements we've made in a a few amazing decades.  

Life is glorious! 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Salem Witch Trial Redux ~ Our 21st Century Political Witch Hunt

Since at least one of my ancestors participated in wrongly judging the more than 200 people accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, I feel a moral obligation to decry the current witch hunting that is currently taking place in our 21st Century political arena.

For those who have ignored or choose to disregard the our historical past because it may not support his or her political bias (or because some educators have replaced the actual history of America with more politically correct niche stories that promote diversity), I will provide a brief recitation of the facts.

In January 1692, 3 young girls began experiencing odd behavior that was medically described as "fits" resulting from the influence of "the devil". The girls, aged 9 to 11, levied blame upon 3 women for casting spells upon them. Mass hysteria resulted with 20 condemned to death. Nobody wanted to believe the girls were lying. And historians today believe that their parents, in particular  leading citizens Thomas Putnam and Reverend Samuel Parris, encouraged the girls to accuse people they didn't like to rid them from the community. Hmmmm. Sound familiar to anyone?  

From the earliest years of our Republic our country has experienced nastiness amongst politicians with differing agendas. Few politicians truly care about the greater good. Instead, they seem to care only about getting elected, staying in power, getting re-elected, and then, if all goes well, secure a well paid job in the private sector while also receiving a government pension. If our elected officials had any integrity, any belief in the Constitution they've sworn to uphold, any common decency, any empathy, even of scintilla of respect for the people of American - they would work together to find consensus instead of pandering to whatever groups are garnering the most media attention. 

It seems that not one member of Congress from either political party has the temerity to stand up for what is right and stop the madness, put an end to the witch hunts, call out the small minded game players, hold their own members accountable to verifiable malfeasance, and put Country first.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Misguided Outrage Over School Dress Codes

In the weeks preceding the return to school there were numerous articles decrying school dress codes as being discriminatory towards or objectifying women, with students and parents claiming that placing restrictions on how one dresses body shames them. WTF! Really!! I'm sorry, but that is total bullshit. That argument is an excuse for wearing "play clothes" to school.

School is a place of learning, not Fashion Week. Emphasizing individuality and comfort over teaching appropriate dress for a time and place fails to prepare young people for the real world. Try showing up to a typical office for work wearing spaghetti straps, bare midriffs, micro miniskirts, shorts, tennis shoes, denim of any kind, graphic tee shirts, hoodies, off-the-should tops, leggings, or   flips flops and expect to be sent first to Human Resources and then home with pay docked for the day and a warning not to make the same sartorial choice again or to find another job. Men are expected to wear shirts with a collar, long pants, and socks with shoes that are not sneakers. Why should the required dress for school be more informal than what is required for playing on most golf courses? 

One can express oneself through fashion at the beach, the mall, while hiking, at home, when out with friends, at after school events, on vacation and on weekends. School is the workplace for young people. Dressing appropriately is about respect ~ self respect, respect for institutions, respect for learning and respect for others. 

I am certainly not advocating for a return to the olden days of my childhood {when I walked 12 miles to school through wind, rain, tornados, & blizzards up hill both ways}when girls had to wear dresses, nobody was allowed to wear jeans {not that we had them} and nuns walked around with rulers to ensure our skirts were not shorter than two inches above the knee. Nor am I an advocate for requiring school uniforms, although uniforms solve many of the problems associated with sartorial freedom. 

But if you want a style icon, look to tasteful examples such as the Duchess of Cambridge or Megan Markle, Zendaya, Lily Collins, Gigi Hadid, Paris Jackson or EmmaWatson.