Don’t worry about the best-before-date

While going through the weeklies, my eye fell on a column by Liesbeth Wytzes in EW, entitled ‘Don’t worry about the best-before date’.

Liesbeth gets a phonecall from one of her children asking advice on the expiration date of a product. She answers that before 1991 we used our noses to determine if a product was still edible. That method worked well and led to less food waste than we have now.

Having pondered expiration dates, best-before-dates and food waste for a while, Liesbeth then draws the analogy with elderly women who are said to have reached their expiration date and in some cases even are laid off for that reason! I am not kidding – this DOES happen in The Netherlands! It is UNBELIEVABLE but true (unfortunately). And it is hard to prove…

My memories went back to a phonecall between my mentor and my third and second line managers in #IBM #GBSNL. The question was : ‘My mentee wants to move on to the next level on the career ladder – do you support that?’ The answer from the third liner was ‘No, she is over 50 years old – we don’t invest in women that age’. The second liner kept his silence. My mentor did not step up for me – he just accepted what he was told.

It took me years to overcome the shock that this event caused. I had to process it in silence. I lacked the words and evidence (I failed to record that phonecall) to make my point to the company’s leadership and to make this right. I did not know whom to talk to and was not sure if they would believe me. I felt ashamed as well, as if I had been mentally raped and it was all my fault.

I am now retired. I learned that this poisonous third line manager has retired as well, opening up for more modern, less women unfriendly leaders.

I do hope that women in technology get more and better support nowadays and that they have the ears of top management in situations like the above. There are so little technical women. That talent should be treasured, not demotivated and alienated!


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