In 1985, I was 11. Sometime during that year a movie came out called ‘Just One of the Guys.’ It was about this girl who lost a summer internship at the local paper to a couple of guys. She was convinced her submission article was passed over due to sexism. To prove her point and get her article accepted, she decided to resubmit the article while posing as a guy.
I don’t know why I loved this movie so much, but it became one of those movies I would watch over and over. Looking back, I think it probably spoke to me on levels I didn’t understand at the time. I’m sure I already inherently knew that simply being a boy meant something entirely different than being a girl. It inadvertently got you different things, built you a separate path and opened additional doors that might not exist for girls. Simply put, there was, and always has been, a boys club.
As I got older, I realized that this boys club had more of what interested me than what all the girls had going on. I developed more male than female friends, my personal interests became more ‘boy like’ as I became interested in sci-fi and sports and outdoorsy type things.
But the older I got, the more I realized my challenge would be that the boys club didn’t always admit girls.
This realization became even more of a truth as I graduated college and started my career. Going into it, I didn’t necessarily think advertising was a male dominated world. It was a new age, and most jobs I landed were actually in departments that skewed heavily female. Most of the departments or companies were often even headed by females. But interestingly enough, the few men who did exist within these same walls were the ones running the shows.
From the start, I always knew the boys club was where I wanted to be. I think I had known that ever since high school when I dumped most of my female friends due to the drama. The boys had their hands in the pieces of business I wanted to be in. They had the positions I wanted. And they were the ones I wanted to hang out with. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t a boy. So the challenge for me quickly became about infiltrating this elusive boys club.
I think early in my career, I thought it might become easier as I went. I held strong in the fact that times were changing, and women were winning in more areas than we used to. But I’ve been at this for 16 years, and I find I’m still fighting the good fight. But here’s the thing…I don’t think the boys club always knows it exits. We all simply run in packs that we know and boys run with boys. So even when like minded, strong women who can do the same things as these boys come along, they don’t always recognize us.
What I have found is if you can figure out a way to break down the boys club tunnel vision, they often let you right in. And appreciate your smarts and drive and visions. Hell, many of these boys are married or in relationships with strong, smart, strong willed women. But for some reason, when it comes to doing business, they often forget we exist. The hardest part is just getting them to look up for a second.
At this point in my life, I know it’s one of the biggest challenges I face in any new position. I can’t even tell you how many boys clubs my husband has watched me maneuver. I have to be content in the fact that at least I know they exist. And I have to be thankful I am the type of person who has the drive and knows how to stand up to the tunnel vision that exists. I’m also happy that many of these boys eventually recognize the skills and strengths that may exist in someone who is NOT a boy.