As I described in my last two posts about the USTFCCCA Convention, I came away with contacts, knowledge, and an overall positive experience – feeling good about my career ahead. What I failed to mention in prior posts, however, is how I felt as a woman outside of the Women’s Summit that had taken place at the end of the week.
Shocked. Speechless. Embarrassed. Angry. Fearful.
Of the 1,100 attendees (the size of the small college I attended!), my guess is that 100 of them were women. I arrived in San Antonio to the conference not knowing a soul. Even with my outgoing personality, it was rather daunting to walk into a room full of coaches who either traveled with their colleagues or seemed to know each other from prior years or from competition. It was my first conference, and the head coach I work with did not attend. I certainly met people throughout the week and was pleased with my networking, but I didn’t get there scot-free.
During the evening activities (dinners, cocktail hours, etc.), several men made some inappropriate comments and gestures towards me. My initial reaction was shock and disbelief. I am lucky to have been shielded from this behavior at the school where I work (an all womens’ college), and in the community and home in which I live. As I think about my emotions at those conference events, I wish I could have been tactfully verbal as opposed to speechless, proud instead of embarrassed, poised instead of angry, and confident as opposed to scared. However, since I am not used to hearing such comments, I didn’t know how to react. As I sit here and type this, I am still in disbelief that there are men out there – fellow coaches to be precise – who feel this way towards women. I hate to be vague, but the details are not important. The point is that I lost a little bit of faith that everyone I encounter in my profession is a true colleague and peer. I do remain angry and fearful that we are not yet over the gender inequality hump. I hope that this new year – and those that follow – will bring more and more resolution to this deterring issue.