I was in my 20’s, just out of college and so excited about working at the California State Capitol. I was a lobbyist when it was a field dominated by white men. It was my first legislative hearing, I walked into a committee hearing filled with men in suits. I barely got through the door when a man came up to me and said, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be home having babies?” I was in shock. I had no idea what to say.
I thought I would be accepted as a college educated professional. It was so demoralizing. I remember it like it was yesterday. 32 years later I am still working in my policy area and I am proud to say that our field is now dominated by women!
Again, in that same hearing room two years later, I walked up to the dais to testify when a member of the committee had the microphone and as I prepared to testify on a bill he said, “Please state your name, affiliation and I would like your phone number and home address.” I froze in shock. I was so ashamed and felt demeaned by this legislative member’s casual and offensive approach.
There were a couple of very well respected and well known Members on the committee that I thought for sure would speak up and protest this type of behavior but they did not. They just went on with chatting with their colleagues next to them. It was as if this was just normal behavior and I should tolerate it. I wished I had fought back and said something. Instead, I proceeded with my testimony but I will never forget the shame I felt.