As a continuing commitment to look at the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the EDI lens, and my presidential theme of Striving for Equity using the same Competencies, I considered the fourth of these Competencies. I thought about how career preparation is a considerable aspect of Learning Experiences (formal and informal), and realized that a notable, ongoing issue of equity, inequity and inequality revolves around gender issues in the workplace.
Because I feel that our perspective can become myopic if we stay wholly within the library sphere, I chose to interview women in the non-library workforce and I asked them about their experiences around gender inequity and inequality, and how these elements shaped them, both as teens and during their careers. I also asked them about how they feel gender inequity and inequality has affected the teens in their own lives today.
The last interview in the series is with Erin Anderson Wenz. She is a Professional Engineer and Principal/Vice President at an environmental engineering consulting firm in Minneapolis. She has over 20 years of experience managing stormwater and lake water quality in urban environments. Her project work also includes the design and construction of low-impact development features such as rainwater cisterns, rain gardens, and porous pavement. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, two sons and a daughter.
If there was one element of gender equity that you would like to see promoted in the workplace, what would it be?
Paid family leave for moms and dads so that working parents can be equally supported in taking time off from work to be with their small children, and coaching for women to consider more leadership positions in the workplace.
Considering the research that gender stereotypes are set into motion around age 10, how would you say that you worked against these stereotypes for girls, and in what ways did they become a part of your own upbringing and adolescence?
Growing up, I guess I was a little lucky – I never felt like there were things I couldn’t do. It wasn’t until college that I realized how gender-skewed my chosen profession would be (at least it has been for a while… things are really changing!).
Can you discuss any experiences that you have had that made you feel singled out as a woman or as one of the women in your workplace or chosen career? Are there particular instances of gender inequalities that you have had to deal with? How did you handle them?
Some years into my career, I realized that I was being a bit looked over for a promotion offered to senior staff with an established clientele. I had gone a little “off the radar” with senior leadership after reducing hours to spend more time with small children, and even though I was taking on greater responsibilities and having success at work, I realized that my colleagues may have assumed I wasn’t interested in an increased role. It took a little catch-up effort for me to get the word out that I was ready for the challenge, with the credentials to prove my eligibility. Maybe that experience would have been the same if I had been a man that had taken time off to be with children, maybe not. The fact is that more women tend to take that kind of time away, and have to negotiate reentry, and balance the next steps of a career along with home life. Read More →