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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Honored to speak to female students at St. Joe Academy

I was honored to be asked to be the guest speaker for St. Joseph Academy’s Women’s Institute of Leadership and Learning (WILL)’s first meeting.

According to St. Joe, “WILL has been created to inspire and involve our female students to achieve their dreams by presenting opportunities to internships, scholarships, and future service trips! SJA hopes for 100% involvement by all female staff and students to grow WILL into a strong organization for years to come. Enrich. Empower. Extend.”

I am always happy to give back to my community and to work with the next generation of leaders.

This opportunity combined with the unjustified outrage that Dr. Jill Biden should not use her title when she moves into the White House (if she earned it by writing a doctoral thesis and completing the necessary schooling, then use it) has me reflecting on women’s issues during this holiday season.

As a woman, I am very aware of the differences in how men and women are treated in the world.

But I have never allowed my gender to be the reason I am treated differently in the work setting.

Let’s be frank with one another. People will always want to treat you differently to maybe disparage you or to make you seem less intimidating.

When we started the paper in 1997, my age was 20 and my birthplace was not Hammonton.

People told me I was too young to manage a business. Or that I didn’t know Hammonton as well as someone else who was managing a community newspaper.

In the intervening years, I have learned a lot and my skills have developed further, no different than anyone else who has two decades of professional experience.

Here is some of what I have learned about being a businessperson:

• Some people will want to hug you rather than shake your hand (obviously this is pre-COVID-19). And that’s OK. For some, it is cultural.

• People will not like it when you are firm with them. True of all genders.

• Women are still considered bossy and men are leaders. I have been called bossy my entire life. I am. I own it.

• Most people don’t care what gender you are.

• I don’t need to raise my voice to make myself heard.

• Always stick up for yourself.

This last one is the hardest for me.

As a kid, I would always champion the rights of my friends or peers who were being bullied or disparaged.

It was rare for me to stick up for myself to a teacher or a fellow classmate.

I would make apologies.

• “They didn’t mean it.”

• “Maybe they are having a bad day.”

• “I know I did a great job, I don’t need their validation.”

Recently, a meeting left a bad taste in my mouth. And I let myself think on it for a few days. I spoke with one of the meeting leads and expressed how I felt.

Did it change anything? Outwardly, no. But it did make me feel better that I said something and now there is a record of me saying something.

Women have it harder than men. It’s a fact. Women have not been as active in the workforce as men have for hundreds of years. Women who choose to have children lose valuable work time in their careers which can impact salary levels and advancement.  Men cannot have children and therefore do not lose the time.  And it continues, schools are more likely to call the mom and pull her from work than they are a dad.

So what is a woman to do?

Work hard.  Ask for the promotion. Stick up for yourself. And do not let your gender identify you or pigeonhole you. Make sure your romantic partner shares in all duties.

And most importantly, help others. Do not tear a woman down based on how she looks. Be a help not a hinderance.

Remember that bossy little girl may be your boss some day. It just means the ‘y’ was dropped and someone recognized her talents and leadership skills.

Gina Rullo is the editor-in-chief of The Hammonton Gazette.


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