I am in my 60s and work in a field that still isn’t known for being welcoming to women. When I started out 40 years ago, I dealt with harassment, sexism, handsy bosses, and comments like “Women don’t belong in this field and they never will.” I persisted and managed to make a pretty good career for myself. But I spent those early years angry, frustrated, and thinking, “If I were a guy, this wouldn’t be so damn hard.”
Well, a lot of those old guys are dying now, and I’m starting to get emails from colleagues wanting to celebrate their long, distinguished careers. Usually I ignore them. But sometimes, especially if I worked with the guy in the early part of my career, I’m asked to “say a few words.” The only words I could offer would be, “He couldn’t pass a woman in the hall without trying to cop a feel, and he consistently refused to recommend promotion for a woman because she didn’t ‘belong’ here.” I know that graceful silence is better, but I want to say, “I used to put his name on the punching bag in my basement!” My industry is getting better, and we women all knew we just had to wait out those old guys. Any advice on how to respond to the eulogy requests?
—Dying Old Guard