In the last few days I’ve had occasion to be treated…well…unfairly. It upsets me as I am an adult and can comprehend when I am being spoken to as if I am not intelligent. I can not imagine how/what my girls must feel when they are faced with a similar situation.
I made an appointment at a major computer retailer to seek advice and quotes on repairs for some devices. After arriving 30 minutes early and patiently waiting, my appointment time came and went. I asked when it would be my turn and, “Oh…oops…someone will be with you in a minute or 2”. Well it was more like 10 but hey, eventually a ‘tech’ came to speak to me. I explained my situation and asked about costs for repairs. First he looked at me like I had nine heads for wanting to repair the devices. Then when I asked again about cost, I was given incorrect information. How did I know the information was incorrect? I had done my homework before heading to the store just to know what I was in for cost wise. The ‘tech’ and I went back and forth for a bit until I was frustrated with his attitude and I asked for a manager. The manager was another young man who tried to feed me the same misinformation. At that point I pulled out my ‘smart’ phone and accessed the information on line to prove to them that they were not quoting me the correct price. When I did show them the correct information both of them looked at me with an “oh well” face. There was no apology. There was no change in attitude. I could see in their eyes that they thought I was just a woman …a blonde woman…and they were smarter than me.
I left the store and called the company headquarters to advise them of my treatment. Now, I completely understand that their treatment of me may not have been what they intended but it was how I perceived it…and perception is reality. The customer service woman I spoke to was very kind and understanding. She did tell me of similar experiences she had had in the company stores even being an employee of the company. She explained that it is an issue the company is aware of  and they working to correct these attitudes among employees.
The following day I walked out to chat with the construction workers that are overhauling my street. I had some questions about the work. Again, when I asked questions, the response was given in such a manner as if the man was speaking to a child. Really? I looked at him and said, “I’m a science teacher. I get it.” and proceeded to ask more detailed questions regarding the project.  His eyes opened wide and he began to answer my questions and explain in greater detail.
I think it bothers me most that I feel the need to explain to these young and older men that I am smart. I understand more than simple sentences. I am educated beyond grammar school. Have we, as a society, not yet evolved as much as I think? What is it like for girls to be treated in this manner? Do they feel the need to hide their intelligence from the males in their life?
One of the reasons I love the Girls on the Run program is that it empowers girls to be who they are. It empowers them to be confident in whatever choices they make in life. It empowers them …. to be.  What frustrates me is that society is slow to change its ideas of gender roles. When will society catch up and accept the progress made by women? Peace.

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