Young woman, you’re not a child

By Allison C. Gallagher - [email protected]

Now that I’m a ripe old age of 23 and in the “later” stages of young adulthood — which starts at 18 with legal adulthood and ends at 25, the magic number for something or another — I find myself getting more and more irritated with some of the speaking trends among my age group, particularly the young ladies who are graduating college and starting their post-graduate career.

So I gotta ask: when, in the world, did the expression “big girl job” become an appropriate one to use about oneself, much less use in conversation at work or with other professionals?

In fact, why in the world would anyone over the age of 18 refer to themselves as a girl anyway?

The phrase has been overused by women my age to describe their first job that isn’t part-time. “Well, college is behind me, so now I gotta start looking for my big girl job,” or “I got the position! Now I’m getting nervous to start my big girl job on Monday.”

To which Grouchy Allison is going to say, on Sept. 26 in the Troy Daily News to the young adult women of the world: stop that right now.

It’s not hard to find articles on the ways women feel marginalized in the workplace or issues young women face that young men would never have to worry about.

Did you know that a few years ago, a study came out that found young men who wore wedding bands to job interviews, regardless of whether or not they are married, were not only likely to be offered the job, but to make more money than single counterparts? There are businesses out there creating fake wedding bands for men for that purpose.

Conversely, young women who are of childbearing age — regardless of whether they’re married are not — are seen as liabilities, especially if the young woman does become pregnant. The questions then become whether or not she’ll return for work after maternity leave, or if she does how much time might she have to take off if the kid becomes sick or needs Mom, thus costing the company an employee?

MIA employees typically don’t get promotions or to advance in the workplace, by the way. So much for breaking glass ceilings.

There are also issues of sexual discrimination — which will always be a gray matter for all employees and employers alike — and debates over the needs of working mothers versus what businesses need to do to run effectively.

So with all the issues most women will have to face at some point or another, why in the world would a young woman who is serious about building a career as a professional self-sabotage with a goofy expression?

Once we hit 18, we’re not boys and girls. Children do not go to university, take up a trade, join the military and serve overseas, start a career, rent an apartment or buy a home, get married (well, some married couples I’ve known I wonder about) or raise their own children into successful adults.

For that matter, young professionals and mature adults don’t refer to themselves like infants. Whether the young ladies in my demographic mean it this way or not, “big girl job” undermines them. It says, “I’m still a kid,” while signaling to the rest of us that you haven’t come to terms with the fact that, no, you haven’t been a kid in four or five years.

As for credibility, “big girl job” takes that and blows it all to you-know-where, and tells other people that our big-girl-grown-woman doesn’t require people to take her seriously.

By the way, have any of you who work with or talk to young adult males on a regular basis ever hear them refer to their jobs as “big boy jobs?” I sure as heck haven’t.

So young ladies of the world, either working or just starting to plan a career path, I beseech you. Like it or not, as women we are going to have some obstacles men will never have, and our generation will have certain things to concern ourselves with that our grandmothers did not. And to be quite frank, even if we’re all Superwoman, at some point or another we’re going to run into a jerk who will do their darndest to undermine our abilities and competence.

However, we can behave as the smart, fabulous grown women and growing professionals we are, and we can gain the respect of the 90 percent of good folks out there. But for the love of all things good and holy — no one is going to get that kind of respect or taken seriously if they talk about themselves like they’ve figured out how to get their Pull-Ups up on their own.

No more “big girl job” or big girl anything else from here on out. In the words of Beyonce, we are grown women.

By Allison C. Gallagher

[email protected]

You can reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on [email protected]

You can reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on [email protected]

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