Given that it’s the week of Thanksgiving, I'm supposed to write about the “women I am grateful for.” For inspiration, I just need to look around our office to our conference rooms, each of which is named for a woman we admire: Gloria (for Gloria Steinem), Michelle (for Michelle Obama), Grace (for Grace Hopper).
But, honestly, do you know what would really make me grateful?
Gretchen Carlson finding a big job on network or cable tv. And Ellen Pao bouncing back from suing a venture capital firm for gender discrimination, to being invited to become a partner at another mainstream Sand Hill Road venture capital firm. Last but never least, attending a holiday party for Sarah Kunst, Susan Fowler, and Sarah Lacy, after they are feted by the tech industry for their courage and then placed on unicorn advisory boards.
In a world where Mel Gibson – he of the hate-filled, anti-Semitic, drunken rant – is starring in a Christmas movie, but somehow many cannot forgive Katherine Heigl and Mischa Barton for being labeled "divas"...well, this would be a big shift.
As a society, we seem to forgive men for all kinds of sins.
But forgiving women for speaking up, for stepping out of line, for not playing the game of being “not too tough, not too soft” – that, historically, has been harder for us.
I've been there. After I was fired from my job running Smith Barney because I wouldn't "sit down and shut up"— for, of all things, fighting to reimburse clients for investment products the business had mis-sold in the run-up to the subprime crisis – I was told by a New York Times journalist that I would never come back. (Men could, she told me, in a very sincere attempt to be helpful, but women weren’t allowed to.)
That's just the way it was.
[Read: A Letter to the Men in Our Lives]
So I’m thankful for all the women who are coming forward and naming their accusers, even given the career and reputational risks they know they are facing. And the behind-the-scenes, ongoing harassment and bullying I know they are experiencing.
I’m thankful that our societal taboo on women showing their (well-deserved) anger seems to be lifting.
I’m thankful that, as a society, we are reassessing our treatment of Monica Lewinsky. (She was only 20 years old, for goodness sakes. I have sweaters that are older than that.)
I’m thankful that the substantial majority of all of you are telling us (in a survey that we've just completed) that you admire women who stand up for what they think is right.
I’m thankful that more women are running for elected office, even knowing that doing so will bring them into the line of fire. (And we’re trying to help: See more here.)
And I’m thankful that being an entrepreneur gave me a path back into business, to build something that I truly believe can have a positive impact. It's a path back that didn't exist a decade ago, but one that has been driven by advances in technology. I’m thankful that more and more women are also finding this path back.
That gets me to a question: Is there a woman whom you are thankful for?
This article originally appeared in Ellevest's newsletter, What The Elle.