Equal Pay Day

Margaret_ThatcherI didn’t know, until this morning, that April 9th is affectionately known as “Equal Pay Day” to the feminist movement.

Some might be surprised to hear that…might have thought I’d have the day circled in red ink in my day planner. After all, I was part of a feminist discussion group in college. (I’ll get back to that in a minute).

I had no idea.

There has been a lot of talk lately about women in the workplace. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg certainly didn’t start the conversation, but she did her part to fuel the fire with the recent release of her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” I haven’t read the book—so I won’t comment on that—but I applaud the renewed interest in the topic.

Let me state first: I’m not a feminist. I find it almost laughable that I was ever considered one to the extent that I was asked to start a feminist discussion group in college. Any feminism I might have exhibited was directly related to my inability to succeed in matters of the heart. It was a lot easier to think boys were “icky” than it was to admit that maybe I was a little flighty. I am very much a product of my southern upbringing. I believe in traditional domestic roles…at home.

What I don’t believe in, are traditional roles at work.

I read a great quote by Meryl Streep earlier this week. It was part of a larger tribute she made to Margaret Thatcher. She said, in speaking to why Lady Thatcher was worthy of awe, “To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable.

I loved Margaret Thatcher.

I admired her strength and her ability to succeed in what, until then, was a man’s world.

I will never forget a conversation I had with the Senator right before I left my job on Capitol Hill for the private sector. He said, “You’re going to regret this.” He was wrong. I didn’t regret it and I’ve never regretted it. Had I, that regret would have stemmed from spending too many years working in a position that pigeonholed me in a traditional woman’s role–not for leaving. Face it, you are rarely asked to use your brain if you know how to write a good thank you letter…

That’s a lesson I’ll share with my niece one day…after I tell her about Margaret Thatcher.

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