A crack in the glass ceiling


An unusual sight it was at one of Sri Lanka’s state run petrol sheds of the South. She came across as an adept worker making a living like everyone else. Her smile when conversing with customers and her peers is what made her stand out from the rest.

It would be an understatement if said I was stunned because of what I saw. As soon as my grandmother, who was sitting right beside me, shrieked in excitement and repeatedly tapped my shoulder I knew I had a confirmation.

There was a sense of pride, a sense of purpose by the way she carried herself. She wasn’t doing this just for kicks. Working in such an environment is not what most Sri Lankan women would even consider but she had and it was clear to us that she was respected for it.

I doubt that she was given any advice or training on how to treat customers. It’s a state run service after all with low levels of motivation in abundance.

Why couldn’t more women, like her, boldly step up to the plate? Engage in ‘unconventional’ male dominated occupations and convert them to the norm so that more women would forego the stigma that surrounds it and be able to make a substantial income. We could definitely use more customer oriented and obliging women workers in state run service industries which would in turn boost company sales.

The great Dr. Maya Angelou once said “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but no more difficult than remaining in a situation which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”

For once I refrained from talking to my story, instead I observed. She wanted to be there and her contentment reflected in her work as she smiled and waved her customers goodbye.


W. Brown blogs at aboutabrown.wordpress.com

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