Still on Hidden Figures and the moments that had me squirming in my seat, sighing deeply, or straight bawling my eyes out…
Yesterday’s Wooden Door is Today’s Glass Ceiling
A few days ago, a girlfriend of mine called me, completely distraught. She has been working on a difficult work project for months and just as she was finally approaching a note-worthy breakthrough, a senior leader took the project and assigned it to someone else. She felt disregarded, invisible, unimportant. How many of us have felt this way in the workplace at least once? You work hard on something only to have it snatched from you in the moment of glory. Kat must have felt the same heartbreak each time she was asked to work behind the scenes only to have a White, male counterpart take credit. In the final scenes of the movie, she solves a complicated and life-altering problem, and as soon as she communicates the solution, the door is shut in her face. Literally. She is shut out from seeing the fruits of her labor. She is shut out from the glory and recognition.
If I Go Up, We All Going Up
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Dorothy finally receives an offer to move into a new, more prominent role after having managed a group of Black women analysts. We watched as she authoritatively insists on bringing her team along with her. She not only achieves this but passes on her self-taught knowledge on the new IBM to them! Her strength, her foresight, and her purity of intention warmed my heart in that scene! Do we see this happen in today’s Corporate environment? Do Black women in Corporate look out for each other? Or do we step over each other to get to the next level? Especially since many of us have accepted the role of the token? When you find yourself promoted into a senior leadership position, have you promoted Black women along your path? Even if you do not have such authority, there are other things you could do. Have you ever taken the time to mentor an up and coming, Black intern? Have you helped her network and meet the right people? Have you spoken up for another Black woman when she is being maligned in her absence? Have you willingly shared knowledge to help her advance? I for one, think we could all use a dose of the Dorothy spirit every now and again.
The Charming, One-Liner White Man
So this one was profound for me as well. I couldn’t even find the right subheading to capture it perfectly. Let me try to explain. Has anyone ever encountered this man in their Corporate environment?
“Funny” or something.
Full of clever one-liners.
Has no original thought of his own when it comes to work and thus is…
…great at rephrasing and piggy-backing.
Great at networking.
Looks the part… Your “All-American”, handsome, young, expensive haircut, clothes & car.
Hardly does any actual work and thus, makes this ish look easy.
We see him in John, the astronaut who is propelled into space by Kat’s genius. Each scene had him cracking jokes, spitting out clever repartee, and just being…very comfortable in his skin. This by the way, is a sharp juxtaposition to Kat’s demeanor the entire movie…unsure, anxious, frazzled, timid. There are many days where I am like Kat and I am surrounded by men like John. When I first started out at a Big 4 Accounting firm in VA, I didn’t have a car so I relied on public transportation. It would take me 2 hours to get to work every day. No matter how meticulously I planned my appearance, I would inevitably get to work a sweaty, anxious, insecure mess, as I hurried in from the bus stop across the street, and walked in to work next to Johns who drove fancy Porsches. Kat must have felt this way each time she had to hustle clear across campus, 1.5 miles away to use the bathroom.
If this resonates with you, the next time you find yourself feeling this way, remember this. You are here! Despite everything you deal with. You are a success. You are just as good. No screw that. You are better.