This post is written in conjunction with the Feminist Ethics Course Dialogue project sponsored by Claremont School of Theology in the Claremont Lincoln University Consortium, Claremont Graduate University, and directed by Grace Yia-Hei Kao.
Sharon Andre is completing her Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation at Claremont School of Theology. Her interests include biblical studies, business organization and computer science.
Many thoughts, feelings and realizations are being triggered inside me as I listen, read and learn about Feminist ethics. I sense that my CST deconstruction is in full swing with no end in sight! This is my first course at CST following twenty-five plus years in Corporate America, and just about everything is new to me. I’m a white gay Mennonite woman raised Catholic with formal education in computer science and business.
I’ve been pondering the patriarchal socialization perspective glossed over by Noddings and Gilligan and it’s been gnawing at me. I believe that women and men’s care ethic and justice dispositions are more a product of societal norms, that we have assimilated our gendered roles so well that they may appear to be gifts from birth. If society has influenced our roles more than genetics and biology then it seems that the probability of transforming some of our long held stereotypes into a more balanced state can transpire. Can we make the necessary changes to our long history of patriarchal dominance to decrease oppression? What will the changes look like? And for goodness sake how many decades will this take?
Before this course I enjoyed success in corporate America (by corporate America’s standards). But after much reflection I’m saddened at the very real possibility that to be successful in a brutally competitive field and advance to the coveted (by me and my fellow professionals) upper echelons of management was in large part because of the gifted chameleon I became in order to join the inner circle of the “boys” club; I played by their rules — I perpetuated the patriarchal influence to adjust to the norm so I could enjoy the status and rewards associated with being an executive. In retrospect I deemphasized many of my female traits to be accepted as a professional and not a woman, a gay person or by any other stereotype that might have derailed my career. Furthermore I disassociated with women who did not adjust to the male dominated culture that is Corporate America in order to maintain my position. What a depressing realization, but knowing what I know now it’s very unlikely that I will ever go back to corporate America. For a plethora of reasons I resigned this week in hopes of discovering how I can contribute more to our world, to look outward, learn new skills, and to reconstruct myself…and so the expedition begins.