Someone in the blogosphere wrote to me to express disappointment about being favored for something because "she's the woman applying".
The caveat before I start: I am only dealing with the woman/gender aspect, but this certainly applies to people of color. I am not a person of color, and if some of this is useful to POC, I am glad. But I am not going to pretend that I have the background to write to people of color on this issue.
I know my blogmom Isis dealt with this problem, and dealt with it well. She lives at the corner of intersectionality and hilarity and far more wise than I about these things. But I can't find her post. So I'm going to paraphrase her.
1. Isis the Scientist: for every "extra" door opened for you, there have been dozens that were slammed.
2. Bette Midler: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. - Laugh all the way to the <insert well deserved and earned Good Thing> 🙂
The world is not a fair place. And its a hugely random place. Lots of times the dice are loaded against you. More often they just roll against you. In a perfect, fair world, no one would get benefit or penalization for things irrelevant to the position under consideration (race, gender, gender identity, religion, color, shoe size, and well, looks... I maintain that "ugly" women face huge discrimination, where "ugly" and "beauty" get defined by often-male-dominated-societal standards - but that's another post).
As women, we often see the glass as nearly empty and we see it as our own fault. When good things happen we clutch at our impostor syndrome. Nothing good that comes our way is because of who we are and that when we don't get something its because we just weren't good enough, and that the (often) man making the decision is smarter than us. I've written some about this in the past here and here.
I maintain that we are not so good at taking a step back and evaluating things dispassionately - without passion - for ourselves, in our own heads. [insert small generational thought here: I have heard many "olders" say that this is not true of todays "youngers" who see themselves as entitled. This may be true of some, but I've worked with enough young women now to know that the this issue is still there across the generations]
Take my friend/colleague's disappointment. Maybe it is simply that all candidates are equal or near equal and that having a woman get this thing is an important signal to the rest of the world. Why be disappointed? You have earned this. Maybe my friend isn't quite as good in some ways. But so what? Would the person be supporting her if the person thought she was going to be a disaster? People are not ceteris paribis experiments. My friend has these strengths to bring to the table, and the other guy has other strengths. How you rank those strengths is difficult; its not a temperature on a thermometer. It may be impossible to rank. And maybe its so important to have a different looking face at the table that the rest of the criteria sink below importance.
My bottom lines, and I have several are: 1) if you think you're good enough to do the job, hang onto that. 2) other people will weigh other criteria for decisions. get over it. 3) Sometimes its fine to accept a boost. You don't always have to work twice as hard to get half as far.