For IWD, I also want to talk about the 3 men in my life who leaned in with me. For IWD, let’s also talk about men. We can’t move this cause forward by just pushing for one gender. It defeats the purpose. Feminism celebrates women, but does not isolate other genders. #LeanInTogether
There are 3 men who played an influential role in my life and made a positive impact on me and my self-confidence as a girl, as a woman. Today, I say thanks for them, and for all the men who lean in for equality, men who supported women in achieving their goals.
MY FATHER taught me a few tricks on self-defense, championed my Math skills, and sponsored so many of my books. He was my champion in my grade school assignments. He taught me how to drive, it involved a lot of tears, on my part, because we always end up fighting. He set high expectations from me, which I appreciate because never for once had he treated me any less. He initiated and allowed debates at the dining table (which led to another set of fights). I appreciate it because I grew up in a democratic environment, never dismissed as disrespectful when I speak out my opinions. These “debates” between me and my father had taught me to be concerned, to know about issues, and to not be scared of my passionate side. In college, I was ostracized by my aunt (my fathers’ sister, feared matriarch of their family) because I spoke up to her about her unjust treatment of their mom (my grandmother). My father did not take sides (I knew being put in the middle was hard for him, but he never for once reprimanded me for my actions nor force me to apologize to my aunt.)
MY BOSS was my Leader, my role model, my mentor, my advocate. He was my “boss” from my first ever project and practically the last one before I took my sabbatical. That’s 9 years of being under his leadership and influence. He was one of the most admired leaders and people developers in the company. There are so many things I’ve learned from him. But there’s one I bring with me wherever I go, the last thing he told me before our career paths parted. He told me, not in the sentimental kind of way but matter-of-factly based on the years we’ve worked so closely together “Jan, you can do anything.” It’s the most powerful thing said to me because since then, there is nothing that I am scared to try because I always have that in mind.
MY HUSBAND and I met as facilitators for the Leadership Conference sponsored by our company for college students about to join the work force. I knew right then that if I will ever marry, it will be with someone who has the character he has. What I love most about him is how he treats me. He treats me as equal, but never in a manner that patronizes and insults me. He challenges me. We compete over who is smarter, who is better at Math, who got the most medals from school, etc. He does not feel threatened by my competitiveness, so I don’t feel the need to diminish myself for his ego’s sake. I got promoted to executive level ahead of him. It never became an issue. He lets me shine and I never saw it affecting the proverbial “male ego”. At our wedding, there was a common theme in the toasts — they couldn’t find anyone who is a better match for my personality. What a lucky girl I am!
Check out http://leanin.org/together to learn more about how women and men can lean in for equality. There are many relevant resources found here including how men can lean in for the women — Tips for Men at Home and At Work.