“If we live in a society that is stuck in victimhood, we will have lots of victims,” says the Fox News anchor in an International Women’s Day essay
As part of a series to mark International Women’s Day, Moneyish asked some prominent people to share their thoughts and experiences regarding issues important to females. Read more here.
I remember as a little girl asking my mom what “women’s liberation” was. To me at that age, it was women marching and burning their bras and Gloria Steinem leading the way. I thought they seemed bold and cool on the cover of Time magazine and I liked their brazenness. I remember the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment and women wearing buttons that said “ERA!” Equal rights, who could argue with that? It never did pass.
My mom was home when we were kids, but went back to work teaching when I was 10. I was proud of her and often we would drive to school together, which I liked. She graduated from Brown University and was the editor of the newspaper there. She always encouraged her three daughters to work hard and it was always assumed that we would be working and have careers. It wasn’t something we wore on t-shirts; it just was.
When I started at the Wall Street Journal after college in 1990, there were lots of smart women around me all the time. They were writing for the paper, serving as managing editor, winning Pulitzers and anchoring the weekend show I worked on. It was so inspiring to me.
At NBC and later at Fox, I worked for and with men and women who respected hard work. I always believed if you worked honestly and pulled for the team, you could keep moving up. So, that’s what I did. Sure, there were some moments in all these companies when I felt passed over for opportunities. It may have been because I was a woman, but I don’t think so. Mostly, it was because I had more to learn. People tend not to reject you if they think you’ll make them look good or if you have an idea that will make the work better.
All my life, I’ve had a strong belief that I want to judge myself and others on their contribution, not their sex. I don’t think much of it when employers want applause for hiring women or minorities. Whether for the Supreme Court or McDonald’s, if you hire the best person, you’ll have a diverse workplace. Women should not fall back on “sexism” unless they really feel that it’s happening. Don’t make that the first road you go down. If you’re working for a sexist jerk, you have to leave. I did and I left at a time when I had no job to fall back on.
I was working for an Australian business magazine after the U.S. financial publication I worked for went out of business. It was a job I took until I could find something better. However, when I was brought in to meet the publisher, who’d just flown in from Australia, he had his back to me as I entered his office and said he was just printing out some of favorite “dumb blonde” jokes. He thought this was hilarious. To me it was obvious that he was boorish and that things were unlikely to improve from there. I packed up my things and left. After a few weeks, fortunately, I got the job I’d been hoping for.
So if we live in a society that is stuck in victimhood, we will have lots of victims. Stick up for yourself, always. Work hard, always. You will succeed.
You can have it all and be a fantastic woman too. Enjoy the sisterhood of your friends along the way. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but it’s worth it.
Martha MacCallum is anchor of “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” which airs weekdays at 7 p.m. on the Fox News Channel, whose parent company shares common ownership with Moneyish publisher Dow Jones.
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