Joe Biden, And Me
I called my friend Annie and told her, “Joe Biden is now the symbol for working women over the age of 50.”
There was a long pause on her end of the line. Then Annie sighed and said, “Okay, go ahead.”
I said, “I’m reading this article about how Biden is so tightly controlled at the White House that Obama even orders his entrée for him at their weekly lunch meeting.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/us/politics/29biden.html?pagewanted=1&adxnnl=1&ref=politics&adxnnlx=1238445775-tklw2UVsgLPRw7DUchC5%20w
Annie said, “Well I know you’ve never liked it when a date tried to order for you” and I said that was just me safeguarding my food, a habit ingrained in me by growing up with three brothers.
But I said, “That’s not the point. The point is that Joe Biden has more experience than Barack Obama—he spent 30 plus years in the Senate. And he came up with the all time best slogan from the campaign when he said about Giuliani that all of his sentences consisted of a noun, a verb and the word 9-11. But now he’s trailing around after a much younger boss who has him reading off cue cards. They even use kitchen terminology to describe his role—the article says he’s good at stirring the pot. How sexist is that?” and Annie said, “Jane, no one would ever describe you using kitchen terminology.”
I said, “It’s true, but I feel for Joe Biden. He’s the older woman working for a younger and less experienced man—someone, in fact, who should be working for him. I’ve been there.” She said, “You’re still not over that agency gig, are you?”
No, I’m not.
I was called in 3 times to interview for an assignment. Each time I met with a young’un who was probably in utero when I began my career. He asked me to do a writing sample for the client and even though I hadn’t done one in years, I agreed. He called me to tell me that I had turned in the best writing sample and was the most qualified writer for the account. Then he called me back to tell me he was hiring the other candidate—a 30 year old guy who was also probably just a gleam in his mother’s eye when I started out.
But I’m smarter than they are—I snaked the client. Hey, I’d already passed the writing test.
This is not the first time I’ve bumped into this situation and I know I’m not the only one. I have a 50 something friend whose job was recently eliminated. The (male) higher-ups called her department into a meeting and put a power point slide up on the screen with everyone’s job titles. Anyone who had a circle around their job title lost their job. Despite being a top producer for ten years, my friend was circled. It was amazing how many 20-something young men were left up on the power point.
I have another friend who worked for months for free on a start-up company. She created her position and helped secure funding. The entrepreneur, a man in his 30’s, told her she was indispensable. After he received capital he hired a male assistant in his mid-20’s—who moved rapidly up the ladder and took the position my friend had created. When she complained the entrepreneur told her she was welcome to stay—and work for the younger man.
You have to wonder, if experience is a core value in the business world, then why are more experienced women consistently being passed over for younger men with only a few years under their belts? Annie said, “Because of what else is under their belts.”
I said I thought that when women began making inroads in the 80’s and 90’s the penis argument went out the window and Annie said, “Only if you were Lorena Bobbit.”
Annie said, “I’ve a great quote for you: ‘There’s no such thing as a glass ceiling for women. It’s just a thick layer of men’ .”
I said, “Maybe. But who’d have thought they would be men whose diapers you could have changed when you were a babysitter?”
Older Women Who Reached The Top
Julia Child published her first cookbook at 49 and launched her first television series at 50.
Hillary Clinton became a Senator at 53.
Clara Barton started the American Red Cross when she was 60.
Golda Meir became Prime Minister of Israel at 71. Millicent Fenwick was elected to Congress at the age of 64.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was 52 when she launched a war against her husband, the king of England.
Helen Thomas still sits in the front row of the White House Press Corps. She’s 79.
Jane Becker http://thedamedomain.blogspot.com