I'm not going to mince words.
As a 25-year-old woman specializing in content marketing and creative development spanning several industries, I have been subject to not only intense ageism, but intrusive, blatant sexism and a nature of societal behavior at work events that would give Bill Cosby reason to shiver.
The saddest part of all of this is that I know, unequivocally, that I am not the only one.
As years go on and my friends, colleagues and acquaintances experience similar situations, inhibiting their progression in the workplace and effectively hardening them to the world as a whole, I have become increasingly fed up. I am not one to grin and bear it. Nor should I have to be. Nor should other women -- millennial or otherwise.
I should not have to work twice as hard as any male or elder in my position would in order to prove my worth. I should not feel the desperate need to grapple for job stability because I happen to have a '90s birthday and breasts. So I am going to tell you what we are all sick of hearing, because it needs to be said.
1. How are you supposed to get that project done? You haven't even lived yet. *chuckle*
Let's first address the reason that businesses seek to hire diversely; it drastically improves a company's quality of production. In the past few decades especially, the benefits of diversity have been of particular fascination to professionals.
More than 10 years ago, researchers Lu Hong and Scott Page demonstrated that a highly diverse group's performance is superior to a "homogeneous" group. One Harvard Business Review piece found that "by correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes as reported by respondents... companies with 2-D [multiple types of] diversity out-innovate and out-perform others.
While age itself may not constitute a sexy form of diversity (more popular focuses are on gender and ethnicity), contemporary business practices are in such a state of flux that it's arguable the most valuable asset to any team may be the lone member who was not born in the sixties.
2. Hmm... so, are these images of yours beauty shots or head shots?
There should never be comments on any employee's physical appearance.
For clarity, by never, I mean some variation of the following: not in a million years. Yet these quasi-subconscious digs are seamlessly embedded in conversations like yesterday's grammatically incorrect meme.
3. Don't you have a collared shirt somewhere?
I do. I do indeed.
What I do not have is the desire to wear one. I will dress appropriately for any occasion; I know quite well what outfits make sense for what form of gathering. So should I choose to wear a satin blouse and a pencil skirt versus a collared button-down with slacks in the dead of summer, please excuse me. I prefer my heat stroke never.
4. So. Who'd you sleep with?
I am sure that in the dead of night, when a person who would utter such a comment is alone in his 800-thread count bamboo sheets watching "Mad Men," lusting after Joan and imagining the dream that could have been his life had he just been born 80 years earlier, he pines for the time that this behavior was commonplace.
I am quite sure that I know of someone with zero interest in rising to prominency in this fashion, like a friend of mine, who is also me.
5. I see that you've bounced around a bit in the past three years. Why is that?
When publications such as Forbes and Business Week look at the statistics on millennial job-hopping, scratching their collective heads and sipping their decaf lattes, they fail to recognize that crunching numbers will only go so far.
While I cannot speak for the entirety of my generation, I can say that my own explanation is threefold:
A. I came of age at a time that it was so difficult to get a job that the most secure people I'd known in my life lost their homes. It's natural for me and my fellow twenty-somethings to fight for the best possible situations we can achieve (both in salary and in culture) in order to glean the stability we watched torn from those who surrounded us as we were teens.
B. I have supported myself fully and independently since the age of 23. My parents do not help to pay my bills. I, too, need to place myself accordingly for a living wage. Shocker, right?
C. I am, as a whole, a person who wants to grow, explore and learn. Just as wanderlust has become the token millennial concept, so too has the idea that we can have more, as long as we embrace the possibility, from startup to corporation.
6. Speaking of the future, where do you see yourself in 10?
Oh, you know. Grabbing a peppermint mocha, jumping into a Lyft and heading to the gym.
10 years, you say? Oh.
I'd assumed you'd meant 10 minutes, as that's the only conceivable way that question might be answered logically without about two solid minutes of contemplation on my part and perhaps even an awkward twitch as you look on in short-sighted anticipation.
7. Flexible hours? Working from home? Dental benefits? This isn't a hippie camp, darlin'.
Last I'd checked, "hippie camps" weren't particularly well-known for their dental benefits, but I haven't been to one in, you know, literally ever, so you got me there.
Where you have not sold me is the professional atmosphere in which I am forced to relegate myself to a 9-5 work schedule despite the distinct lack of need for it given my duties. You have not convinced me that I expect too much in that I would like to know that my place of work is invested in all aspects of my health.
Even from a scientific standpoint, the 9-5 work day is a poor plan. Not only do 77 percent of millennials say that flexible hours make them more productive, but ultradian cycles dictate that we as humans are only able to focus for 90-120 minutes in one sitting. This is not to say that we should only work for two hours a day, but instead that the nature of humanity, which science has proven time and again, is contrary to the schedule we've created for ourselves.
8. For this position, to which you are ideally suited and would kick ass in doing, you must have eight years of experience, a degree in underwater basket weaving and a pink Afghan Hound capable of running a Keurig. Would you still like to apply?
Yes. Yes I would.
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