People Must Break Inherited Patterns

A colleague passed along this video, and man is it powerful. In less than four minutes this young woman nails one of the main issues that contribute to women’s problems in the workplace: our insistence on making ourselves smaller and less visible.

It’s a poem, and I’m not a poetry fan, but this young woman’s discussion of her mother’s eating habits, her own speaking habits, all in comparison to her father and brother, how it affects her behavior, how “if you spend enough time around someone, you pick up their habits,” left me shaking my head, “Yes, exactly!”

It’s a clear-cut diversity dilemma. Women are taught to absorb, men are taught to emit. And those traits are not just displayed at home. They are societal pillars which women lean upon when tired, and upon which others decide whether we are worthy for promotion or even development.

The idea that flaws and behaviors can be passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son, from generation to generation, is real. Our issue now is recognizing and breaking these patterns so that merit is the gauge by which we measure advancement potential or anything that we want but for which we must compete.