Apron for my 3A

By Diana Grote

This letter is in response to an email I received yesterday from the SciencesPo Careers service, to help with my search for an internship for my 3A. The email contained a section publicizing a series of events in conjunction with the administration’s gender equality pôle. This is a letter to thank the gender equality pôle for what they have offered.

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Dear SciencesPo Pôle Hommes-Femmes,

I wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the email that I received in my inbox earlier today. As I am in the midst of searching for an internship for my third year, frustrated at entry-level experience requirements and stipend-less positions in Geneva, your email came at exactly the right time. It was a wonderful reminder of what I should really be focusing on in my internship search, and I wanted to think you for that.

The email contained a series of workshops, with the theme “développer son assertivité au féminin.” First of all, thank you so, so much for recognizing my inherent lack of assertiveness. I know that I’m generally a meek person, reluctant to speak my mind, but it was empowering to see the truth, there in print.

You introduce the event’s importance by describing how “il est essentiel que les femmes se libèrent de la pression psychologique qui peut peser sur elles dans un monde de l’entreprise encore très masculin.”

You know, this is such a relief to me. Here I was, worrying about employers systematically hiring less-qualified men instead of over-qualified women like myself (1), people judging my written work as sub-standard once they realize I’m a woman (2) — not to mention the employers who will be less likely to hire me for the next ten to twenty years, in fear that they might need to pay me when I go make another human. (3)

Silly me! From now on, instead of trying to fight against the patriarchy, I’ll just focus on the essential – freeing myself from the psychological stress of fighting the patriarchy. Thanks for the tip, gender equality committee!

Now, I’m really excited to hear what these sessions consist of.

Session one is on Monday, about breaking through the glass ceiling. Fantastic! I thought that breaking the glass ceiling literally meant smashing that oppression to the floor, but it seems I was mistaken! I can’t wait for the exercises to “dépasser ses propres freins.” It’s good to know that it’s not the system’s fault, but rather simply my own! Such a welcome clarification.

On to session two: développer son assertivité. This session is truly precious.

The first topic is “comment de respecter et se faire respecter” You know, I’m so thankful that this is a workshop marketed solely towards females. I didn’t realize that the males had already mastered respect way up there, above the glass ceiling!

Then, there is the topic of “comment dire non et poser des limites.” You know, I’ve got to really hand it to you – I remember this from your sexual assault prevention campaign. It’s my job as a woman to say no, right?

Right.

Finally, my favorite, “comment faire de ses émotions des alliées.” And you know, I didn’t even realize that we were enemies. But of course, I have two X chromosomes, how did I not realize the problems my emotions were causing me? I would be so lost without your guidance, really.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to the final session, to be held on Friday: “s’exprimer et se faire entendre (quand on est une femme).” I’m glad they cancelled the follow-up session, “how to listen and stop interrupting (when you are a man).” Wasn’t necessary anyways.

This session includes a topic that I, personally, really need to work on: “imposer sa personnalité avec un voix trop faible ou aiguë peut révéler d’un parcours du combattant pour certaines femmes.” This is a really big concern for me, and I’m really looking forward to spending two hours in this workshop, learning how to make sure that I adjust the pitch of my voice so that it doesn’t cause others to discriminate against me.

How does this sound, too “aiguë?” I wouldn’t want my voice to threaten any sort of male dominance. Never mind, they’re not even listening. You’re not holding a workshop to teach them that.

And so, it is with my most sincere gratitude that I congratulate you on the program that you have created. You have managed to tell me that, as a woman, I am not assertive enough, and that I must learn to handle my emotions. You, the administration of my university, have reminded me that it’s not the oppressive structures that are the problem, but rather that the problem is my use of my voice. I applaud your efficiency in imposing upon me that, as a woman, it’s my own fault that I’m discriminated against. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

May I suggest one additional workshop, though? Apron-tying could be really useful. If we’ve chosen to ignore the structures of inequality and discrimination and place the burden on the group being oppressed, I might as well start looking for my 3A back in the kitchen.

Most graciously,

Diana GROTE

(1) “New Research Proves Gender Bias Extraordinarily Prevalent in Stem Careers.” Columbia Business School Newsroom. Columbia Business School, 19 Mar. 2014. Web.

(2) Taub, Nadine. “Keeping Women in Their Place: Stereotyping Per Se As a Form of Employment Discrimination.” Boston College Law Review 2nd ser. 21.2 (1980): 345-17. Boston College Law School. Web.

(3) Daurka, Kiran. “Slater and Gordon Highlights Maternity Discrimination.” Slater and Gordon Lawyers. 12 Aug. 2014. Web.

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