This idea of wearing a ring came to my mind with a couple of questions, why should I do that? and how many women have experienced sexual harassment?
As part of my job I have to attend conferences and networking events. I went to a regional conference in the Caribbean; my goal was to make some good connections, nothing new right?
The first day I accepted a dinner invitation from a banker to discuss products and business opportunities; which is pretty common in this type of events. However, he started to act different, following me everywhere; I was not able to interact with other people because of him. Therefore, I decided to cancel the dinner/meeting.
I ended having a quick bite with a colleague, I told him what happened, how bad I felt, maybe I made a wrong business decision because of my defensive mood. His advice…you should wear an engagement ring. My answer, but I am not engaged, why should I do that? He told me that a couple of female friends were doing that to prevent, as much as possible, these situations. I just laughed and said to myself I am not doing that.
The next day, I met a lawyer in his late 50s; we shared a table with some other professionals. Later that day, we were all invited to dinner.
What happened next was an unpleasant surprise. During dinner, he started to ask me questions, first work related and after personal questions; if I was married, why I was not married. I handled the situation with a strong attitude, which I thought was clear enough to make my point …”I was not interested”.
Back at the hotel, he insisted in having a “last drink” I said NO, the situation was so uncomfortable, here I was telling NO in all possible ways and this guy decided to ignore it. I jumped from the elevator and ran to my room.
Later, I checked my e-mails and…voila… a message from this “colleague” telling me how impressed he was with me and that he truly regrets that we did not have a “last drink”.
Next day I was desperate to go home, I left early to the airport as I did not want to see this guy anymore.
During the flight, I was thinking… the first thing I will do once I get back is buying a ring. I thought about this experience, I was disgusted and frustrated.
The truth is we do not have to buy a ring; why women have to pretend something, because for some men it is too difficult to understand that we are professionals and they have no other choice but to respect that.
This happens all the time, what can we do about it? We can talk, but not just with other women, we need to include men. Thankfully not all men are like this one, those are the ones we must reach to create conscience and change their mentality.
How I see things, you can’t let this behavior stop you from achieving your goals, we have to teach them and move forward.
When I shared this with a friend, she said…well that is why we are getting better positions little by little; they are thinking in an “affair” we are thinking in business.
For me is not a competition between men and women, it is about respect, plain and simple.
So, NO, I will not wear a ring, I am moving forward.