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Miss America

What Glass Ceiling?

By Joanna Wiseberg.

I often hear about the difficulties that women experience in the workplace. Whether they are running their own businesses or they are employees, it is a never ending stream of horror stories. It deeply saddens me.

It begs the question: Aren’t we past this? It’s 2022!

I was always a dreamer. Growing up, I imagined myself in high places. Not specific places, but high places. Throughout my entire childhood, I was surrounded by strong, no nonsense women, true matriarchs who survived WW2. First and foremost, they were sensible, followed by a hard working ethic, complete bossy boots behaviour, and there was nothing that couldn’t be accomplished by a woman. From grade school to high school to college, I saw myself as an equal to a man. This was a given; I didn’t think about. It came as natural as breathing.

Did it ruffle feathers? Yes it did, but I rarely noticed. On the odd occasion, a man would behave in a negative manner toward me for an unknown reason. I ignored it because I was too focused on my goals to pay any attention to negativity. In my European upbringing, men were the strong ones, the hunters, and women were the gatherers. That’s how it played out in my family, however, the women were the ones who managed everyone and everything. The ship ran smoothly most of the time. Decisions were swift, fast, and sometimes painful when a problem had to be resolved.

I watched, I listened, and I learned.

When I started my company, I followed suit as if I were in my home, with my mother and grandmother flanking me. This was in the 1990’s, a time when there was a lot of press about women trying very hard to climb the corporate ladder. I remember many stories of women getting fired because they were “too aggressive” or they didn’t behave in a way that was expected of them. I recall something about breaking through a glass ceiling. I didn’t know the meaning of this phrase. To be honest, I couldn’t relate to any of these stories, and wondered why all the fuss? I thought aggressiveness in the right temperature, was and still is, a wonderful trait to have. These stories revolved around highly educated women, experienced, well-read, yet positioned in a light that they could not overcome the challenges faced in the corporate world. I was perplexed!

After many years in business and experiencing my share of ups and downs, I came to the conclusion that our self-esteem has everything to do with how we view ourselves, the messages we send to others, and how we resolve our problems. We may be the captain of our ship, but self-esteem is the driving force, the engine if you will. Self-esteem is key in determining the decisions and direction we make and take in our lives and our ultimate rise to the top.

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