I was 17 years old when a male doctor shoved his hand down my uniform pants. Straight out of high-school, I went to x-ray school. At 17, I was too naïve and scared to report the surgeon. I was also way too uncomfortable to share this story with my mom, sister or girlfriends. Looking back on this today, it appears that I must have assumed some of the blame; after all I was very friendly and outgoing.
Several years later, I was sound asleep in my own bed when a “friend” took it upon himself to join me. That time, I did tell. But I became convinced that would only lead to worse outcomes. If my boyfriend found out, he would kill our “friend”, which would then lead to worse endings. So I kept my second secret.
Here I am at 60 years old when I spot an advertisement in NJIT’s elevator. It’s a friendly photo of a young man with a happy Golden Retriever on his lap. Does it get more wholesome than that? The young female who shares the same ad space is the opposite of wholesome. The antonyms for wholesome are unpleasant, distasteful, objectionable, nasty, disagreeable, noxious, harmful, and insalubrious (that means seedy). Yup, those words describe her pose.
She is not smiling like the young man. Her look is more of a gaze or intent stare for the camera. She certainly doesn’t look happy. Her halter top is pulled down to expose her breasts down to the nipple line. She looks unhappy. Why did this jump out at me?
I can look back on my own 40 year career with pride. Less than 4% of Fortune 500 Company CEOs are females. The hospital industry has an overwhelming majority of females in the workforce; 73%. But only 18% of females become CEOs. I was fortunate to break that ceiling. I have worked side-by-side with many awesome males, and many outstanding males have reported to me. Although women are still far from holding the positions they should, I believe women have made great strides and advancements; especially here at NJII/NJIT.
The reason I am so disappointed by the grossly sexist advertisement is because I believed the world had improved for young females. For the fabulous female millennials I work with every day, I don’t want them to keep secrets for the next 43 years. But after seeing this ad in every elevator all over campus, I am shocked and disappointed. Now I believe secrets might still be rampant. Now I believe we haven’t made the great strides I thought we had.
Letter to the Editor written by Lynn McVey, Executive Head of Operations NJII