Navigating Gender Disparities in the Workplace


Welcome to episode 14 of the Light Her Project Podcast. Real women.

I'm Rachel Strella.

and I'm Vixen Divine.

Thank you so much for tuning in today. Today's topic is navigating gender disparities in the workplace. We are very excited to welcome a guest, Miss Jess Boozel. And Jess is a marketing professional at Strella Social Media. So we're gonna dive right into the topic. So let's roll. First question, have you ever felt assumptions were made about you in the workplace because you were a woman? And what were those assumptions?

Yeah, I worked at TractorSupply for a year and a half while I was in college. And while I didn't feel assumptions made about me and my team members, because it was mostly from the audience, I did feel assumptions from the customers. There were some comments made, telling me about me not being strong.

And they were always shocked whenever I would know how to work the forklift or do propane. I would be so shocked when I walked out the door and I was wondering the group name. They just, I guess, weren't used to it. But I just felt like some of the comments they made hurt me because I felt like they were thinking less of me as a woman.

Okay, I can see that. Yeah. No, the fact that you were able to do it in the first place, hey, compliments to you. Okay, first off. But yeah, so these assumptions that are made for us in the workplace as women,

they can be anything from, you're stupid or you just don't know.

Like they just, like you're just, everyone's an airhead.

We're all at Airhead and we should all not be here because don't we have dinner to make or something?

There's nothing else to do besides be there.

So that's where that assertiveness comes in where you have to, yes, this is my position.

Yes, this is what I do.

And your demeanor almost has to change sometimes to be stern enough to, that nicety.

sometimes goes away real fast.

And it's not until you get that stern and like this, I mean business, till they take you for such.

That's actually a really good point.

But, you know, for me, it's hard to tell if there were any assumptions that were

made, unless they were self imposed.

I mean, there are times when I feel like I wasn't welcome at the table, like I may have had a seat, but only in name.

I didn't feel like it was in practice, like for me to have a voice.

Okay, understood.

So while we're talking about that, what role do you believe that imposter syndrome may have played in being a female in a male dominated field?

And for me, similar to what I said earlier, I think it can be intimidating being a female in the business world.

Sometimes so I feel like I projected beliefs that may not have been there.

But my opinion is a little different than most.

I work predominantly in an online environment.

And that's what I've done for 15 years.

And I feel like the rules are just different online than when you're working

in a face-to-face environment.

Well, when you're in, as far as imposter syndrome goes in this type of thing, do

you ever feel like that even though you're online, you have face-to-face meetings, or

I should say Zoom type of meetings.

Do you get that vibe then?

I mean, if I do, I think it's more because I am not there and I'm not part of their culture.

So I could be perceiving things that may or may not be there because I'm not there.

Like I may feel like, oh, well, they can do all of this because I'm just

outsourced, you know, but not necessarily anything to do with gender per se.

okay, I gotcha, I gotcha.

Because of your position, not necessarily because of what you are, woman or man.

Gotcha, okay, that makes sense, okay.

For imposter syndrome, feeling that way, being played, I have played the man card because of my name.

Like, if I. . .

If I suspect that something's going to happen or if I don't know what's gonna

happen, I will sign my name as Vic instead of Vixen.

First of all, they don't know who Vixen is anyway, but I will put V-I-X and say Vix.

So they don't know who it is until they meet me.

And. . .

So that's how I get away with that.

If I feel like I'm gonna feel any kind of twinge, but by the time I walk through the

table, then all bets are off because I'm very serious.

I'm very, I can be quite dominant and quite like don't mess with me, but there's no assumptions made.

And don't, don't get that look on your face because I'm gonna get that smile off your face.

It's not gonna happen.

For me, I never really felt imposter-s- I can say it.

Hehehe Um For me, I think if I experienced the assumptions whenever I was younger, it would have affected me differently.

But because I was like 20,  whenever I started it and then I'd, 22 whenever I left.

I felt like I was very confident about who I was and who I was as a woman.

So their comments and everything that they said about me not really being a man and

not doing the same thing as a man didn't affect me as much as it might have whenever I didn't know myself.

I was like, okay, whatever, that's your opinion.

Might not be the right opinion, but it's one. I applaud you for having that statement. I really do.

Not many people can have that. I like that.

That is, that'll keep you, that'll take you very, very far in life.

That will, that will.

I think that's good, okay.

at that.

All right.

All right.

So let's talk about what it's like working in a male dominated versus female dominated workspace.

For me, I've worked with men before, before I worked at Tractor Supply. everything. And my manager at Tractor Spy was a woman. And then my boss now is a woman, Rachel.

I have felt like working with women, there's a lot more communication.

I feel like with men, it's a lot of, here's what you need, go and do it, figure it out.

With women, it's a lot more teamwork. and doing it together.

Okay, okay, I like that.

I'm gonna say the reason that I believe that it happens is because women just naturally have a nurturing type of, well, most, if you have any kid, maybe, but most women have a nurturing component to them.

So until they are hardened,

you know, because there's that part of the woman who then has been in the work environment and understands it and is like not taking nobody's business or not being soft on you.

Nothing because they're already through that.

But some women remain soft.

They remain having that component of compassion, whereas in a motherly type of fashion, as opposed to not. having that.

So when you do have that, even in a work environment, they could possibly, you

know, see what you're going through, take you aside, maybe you had a bad day, take you aside, kind of give you that motherly kind of thing.

Whereas a man generally won't do that.

And it's actually more of a relaxed environment, knowing that you're cared for.

And a lot of times I find that a man just, they just don't have it.

They just don't have that care.

It's about business.

And, but

In business even, there's a nurturing component because you're actually a human.

And a lot of people tend to forget that.

I could see that totally.

And I've had similar experiences, but I have to say before I started my business, when I was working in places that were dominated primarily by women, there was just a lot of cattiness.

I think it's much better when you have a good balance of men and women from my experience in other workplaces.

However, in my own business, the majority of my team are made up of women.

and experience in my business, I found that sometimes it's less about gender and more about finding the right personalities to work with.

Everyone in my team must be in alignment with our core values in their role.

And so I'm lucky to run my own show and build my own team.

But I'll say that in my interactions with clients and colleagues, I found that I do have the most difficulty with men.

And I think it's because social media is a field that's not black and white.

There are a lot of intangibles and I find that women are better at embracing those intangible outcomes than men.

So their flexibility doesn't seem to be there as opposed to the woman's flexibility.

In that.

That cattiness that you're talking about for that female, you know, dominant environment, yes, indeed that component can actually be there and be there a lot.

But I think that a lot of times that comes with the allowance of that environment.

Sometimes when like kind of what you said in the fact that they have to follow a certain vibe, they have to have a certain kind of, some, when they hire people, they don't necessarily.

Look at that.

They're looking at qualifications, yes, you're qualified for the job, etc, etc.

But that baggage that you're bringing with you to work, they don't necessarily

enforce that you have to leave it at the door.



some jobs do.

Jess, did you find that to be the case?

Did you find that there was any policy in your tractor supply job that like made you

leave it at the door or bring in only things for your job or anything like that?

Whenever I think about that, I just think about whenever I first joined the team,

they were talking about if a robbery or something would happen, that your life

means more than tractor supply.

And I've always kept that with me because

my friend, she experienced something at Lowe's that was with a floating credit

card or something and it ended up being a scam and she lost the thousands of dollars

and Lowe's was upset with her for that.

So I felt like I had a better co-oper with my company because they didn't care what

happened after those people left the door as long as I was safe.

So I felt very safe and that didn't have anything to do with gender, that was just

about them as a company.

taking care of me.

Let's talk about pay.

Have you ever experienced a pay disparity?

You know, here's the thing.

pay disparity, the only reason that those happen, I believe, are because people are

unaware of what the other person is making.

If you're in the same room and in the same role as the person beside you, and if you

don't know that the person beside you is making $2 more an hour, then you are just,

for example,

You're going to be all happy, cheery, no problems, right?

No problems are there.

And where it becomes suspicious, I believe, is when they tell you that you

are not allowed to discuss your pet.

You ever been in one of those environments?

There are companies that tell you, you are not allowed to discuss what you make,

specifically, with anybody.

And the reason for that, if everyone made the same thing, there would be no issue,



So that is that's a big red flag right there.

Red flag right here saying that they're paying different people different things

depending on how they feel.

So a pay scale most of the time I've experienced a pay scale whereas it's black

and white.

If you have this many years of experience you've been with the company this long you

do this is how much you make.


So that was with, and that is usually very structured.

I've been with the larger companies where it's structured and or unionized.

And that has been very beneficial.

So as far as pay disparities, when I was working for someone, I haven't actually experienced it and not that I know of, but they were really unionized and on a pay scale.

So it was like pretty black and white.

This, this, this is how much you make.

Mm hmm.

In my case, if I did experience it, I was unaware of it.

I not my husband works for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that the

pay scales are black and white.

You know, if you have this year, many years of service, you're this level of

manager or employee.

This is what you earn.

But all the places I've worked were not like that.

It was hush, hush about what people made.

And I think there's a lot of reasons for that.

Like I don't broadcast what everybody makes in my company to the people in my


And there's a lot of reasons for that.

I mean, everyone has a different skill level and a different level of expertise.

Some of them have come in with their own hourly rate that is what they earn for

their work in their expertise.

But I could see how somebody could say, oh, why is she getting paid this much an


When I'm doing something similar and I'm getting paid this because remember these

are these are all independent contractors.

They're not employees.

So I'm hiring them for their knowledge and expertise.

So everyone is going to have a different requirement for what they need to get


Well, I feel like in what you do, people come in, they already have this amount.

You could do a pay scale, but there would still be this many years of expertise,

because everyone comes in with expertise.

This many years of expertise, this many years.

You could do a pay scale like that, but I don't see any need for it.

Everybody's good.


I feel like in your business, because you have a little bit of people, like you guys

are kind of a family.

I've watched you, Jess.

You're like a family.

And, you know, and you guys get along and everybody's good and you give out rewards,

which is excellent.

And that motivates people.

So I feel like as long as everyone's happy and no one is basically starving and

because you all work remotely, you're not in the office.

You're not.

sitting there on, you know, at the coffee machine.

So, hmm, yeah, so yeah, I got this new thing last night.

How did you afford that?

Oh, well, yeah, you're not, you're not doing, you're not doing that because

people do that.

They drive these cars and they're like, how's she affording that car?

You know, that, that kind of thing.

So you don't have that.

a big role in it and we eliminate that essentially.

I mean, you can chitchat online, but it's not the same thing.

This is not.

No, everyone's doing their own thing.

All right.

Well, we have one more question.

So what role did your direct manager play in feelings of?

equality or inequality and what was the impact if that manager is a woman?

tractor's fly again, my daughter was a woman.

And I have a story.

One time a man walked in and immediately requested for another man to help him.

And I said that we didn't have any men there today and that I can help him if he

told me what he wanted.

And he just said, have your man meet me back at the customer service desk, have

him meet me back, him.

And I said, okay.

That's all I said.

I said, okay.

And then as he was walking there, we have like a mic.

So I called her on the mic and I told her what he had said and that he was back

there for him, not a woman.

She happily went, he answered his question and he still walked out mad because it

wasn't what he wanted.

The question wasn't what he wanted.

And there was a woman.

So she was very.

lost my thought.

She was very fair for us with everything because she was true to herself.


That's ridiculous, but okay.


So for me, like, with female supervisors, some were really passive about how they

felt like more passive aggressive, and others were very direct.

And I remember one instance with a female boss that I had, she called me into her

office, and she had an entire page of issues that she had with me and not just

with my work.

Okay, so like she had talked to other people throughout the organization.

And these were private conversations that were coming up in her list, you know, that

I had with other women in the company and she didn't hold back on even the slightest


Like she really let me have it.

I left there feeling completely floored.

I felt like she'd been voting a case on me for many months and I had no idea.

So, you know, when I've had issues with male supervisors, they were pretty

straightforward, but it was it wasn't nearly as intrusive like nothing personal

came up about conversations.

It was just about work.

And you could tell that they weren't influenced by other people in office.

There was no politics.

Straightforward, pretty just straight black and white, black and white.

I remember having a, feel, well, she wanted me to have a feeling of inequality.

I had a manager and she was really, I'm sure somewhere else she was very good at

what she did.

However, she had an issue with me.

She literally called me into the office because

Ready for this?

I said, my guest, her skin was dry.

OK, now hold on.

She already told me her skin was dry.

I just like literally, she told me her skin was dry.

And I was telling her, so we're at a place where we can take care of this.

I'm like.

Oh, okay, well, we have something for that if you'd like me to add that on.

Well, you know, that kind of thing.

And so her thing was though, it was really like she wanted to be the queen.

Whereas in my opinion, I was the queen here.

I had been here for years before you came, okay?

And so I had no qualms or you were not, I didn't care.

I didn't care.

I did what I did.

That's what I do.

I do it well.

And when you're called, and I'm like, and I'm looking at her.

Do you realize what you did?

You know that she said that, right?

And she was like, yes.

She's like, but it's the way you said it.

So it was extremely petty, extremely, extremely petty.

And she, it was a power play really.

She, you know, she's the boss.

She, you know, she calls the shots and I'm just, I'm not having it.

I could see that she's on a power trip.


Been in that situation before too.

And not people that were like bosses per se, but clients, you know, like if they

felt like I did something that is not something that they would have done, they

feel like they have to come in and override anything that I've done or

sabotage it somehow.

Yeah, not a thing, not a thing.

Not a thing.

Well, let's talk about what we're seeing.

We probably only had time for one of these.

So this is a couple years old, but it's an interesting story.

It was it was featured in Newsweek.

And here's this basic summary of it.

A woman was hired as a resume editor for a company with clients in the STEM field,

which is like science, technology, all that traditionally a male oriented field.

She was the first female employee of this company.

And all the interactions took place online.

So they had never actually saw their clients face to face.

It was all kind of over email.

She said that first she experienced sexism and paid disparity from her colleagues and

coworkers, you know, all men.

And she said that she soon experienced very similar behavior with the clients who

would fight her when she offered suggestions.

They would mansplain things rather than consider her advice.

They question it.

So a man in the company had taken over working with a client from her.

That just happens from time to time with these switch off people.

And he said, and I quote, so one day I'm emailing a client back and forth about his

resume, and he's just being impossible.

Rude, dismissive, ignoring my questions, I was getting sick of his shit when I

noticed something.

Thanks to our shared inbox, I'd been signing all communications as Nicole.

And it was Nicole that he was being rude to, not me.

So realizing this, they decided to spend a week using each other's email signatures.

So they just flopped them out.

The outcome?

The woman, I quote said, I had a great week.

I'm not going to lie.

People were more receptive, taking me more seriously.

They assumed I knew what I was doing, and I didn't have to prove it to them.

The man, I was in hell.

Everything I asked or suggested was questioned.

Clients I could do in my sleep were condescending.

One of them asked if I was single.

So not only could a lot of women relate to this story, which she shared on Twitter

and Medium.

But studies show that gender bias and other readings are very prevalent in

online instructors when they're selecting people they want for the classes in the tech industry.

This is well researched as well.

So, wow, what do you guys think of that story?

Although it may be old, I think that I'm still good with Juro.

If people were to do the same thing today, I'd like to see what would happen.

It also made me think a little bit earlier about how she signed off on this fake.

Yeah, yeah, because I know this as much equality as we would all love to have in

our nice, beautiful world.

It does exist, but in minuscule amounts.

And it's the bias and it's a bias that is actually given to you without you even knowing it.

We've done better.

in like advertising and we've done better in some of the things, the images and the things that we've been putting out.

But you know, you walk the runway, most of the girls are still like a coat hanger,

you know, they do, they could be swapped out for a coat hanger.

And when you see a business ad, a lot of times it's still a man.

And I mean,

Who are we voting for?

There's mostly men.

You know, when women, so many more women in the business world as a whole than

there used to be, but the representation is minuscule.

So that's what we're dealing with.

I think bias is a really interesting topic all around.

There are so many different types of biases.

There are over a hundred different types of cognitive biases alone.

We don't realize it because we're blinded.

We're just coming in from our experiences and shaping our expectations.

I mean, it really takes a lot of leadership ability to get out of your own way and realize that you're- you're producing a bias in any way, we all do it.

It's to an extent, it's just acknowledging

I think it's so easy to point out the gender bias or the race bias or the things

that are very, you know, easy to navigate and tell the difference, but we bring a

lot of biases with us and we probably don't even realize it.

What do you think, Jess?

I'm thinking that maybe I should tell the story I told you earlier.

Yes, it goes a little bit away from gender, but I think it's good.

Okay, so last evening I was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Steeler country as it were.

And there, I'm holding that.

But so I am in a restaurant and there's a bar on one side and there's tables.

So me and my crew were at this table and there's another crew at a table beside us.

And you know, everyone's talking.

And this guy from Jersey, comes over and he's like, so where are you from?

And I said, now I'm in Pennsylvania, so Harrisburg is not like a far concept.

It's the capital thereof.

So I said, oh, I'm from Harrisburg.

And I hear him say, you know, I heard him earlier say he was from Jersey.

And he looks at me, he's like, oh, I thought you were like from Africa or

Haitian or something.

I'm looking at him like, what, what?

Makes you think.

So I have on my lovely head wrap, right?

In a different color, but I have on my lovely head wrap, which I wear all the time.

And so because I have this head wrap on and I did not have on an African outfit, I

will say, I was dressed like I had on like a long sweater or something like nothing,

nothing odd.

My head wrap matched, but honest to goodness, I kid you not when he looks at me and he's like, it's like, where are you from?

No, where are you really from?


So the bias, like he just saw this and he's like in his head, he's like, oh,

she's not from this country.


Huh, okay.

I think people need to think before they speak.


I have a lot that I could say about that, especially as a release of sports.

But I've been I'm going to hold the phone on that and we'll do that another time.

But this has been a great discussion and we're coming to the end of the podcast.

I want to thank you, Jess, so much for being here today and for our audience for tuning in.

You can follow the Light Her Project hashtag online.

So in the meantime.

Keep it real, real women.

with Real Talk.


Discover social media solutions tailored just for you, featuring strategy, audit & research, immersive content planning, insightful consulting sessions, and innovative branding & idea generation. Our full-service management encompasses asset creation, detailed analysis reports, and community engagement, guaranteeing a seamlessly crafted brand experience.

Commitment to Excellence

Strella Social Media
1412 N. 6th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102