Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Young and Talented? Watch Your Back!!!

On Friday a teacher made an appointment with me and asked if I would sponsor her as her mentor in her college program to get her administrative credential because she wants to be a school principal. I said that of course I would.

During our conversation, she began to cry and stated that she has asked her principal and vice principal if they would give her leadership positions at the school because she wants to develop her leadership capacity. They just blew her off. The principal said that he would support her, but delegated it to a female vice principal.

Apparently it's been months and the vice principal has refused to give her any leadership assignments. This teacher is one of our best teachers, which the principal has told me on numerous occasions and I have witnessed with my very own eyes. Yet the vice principal talks down to her, puts her down, tells her that she doesn't have certain skills to complete an assignment and so on.

Two years ago this same teacher came to me in the same type of situation at another school. When she came into the district I was the one who hired her because I recognized that she is extremely talented. I can't fully explain all of her qualifications because she was actually the first person in the state of California to attain two certain degrees. She has to be about 26 years old or so, yet she has multiple certificates from programs that she has completed, and she also has two masters degrees and is finishing up her school counseling degree and administrative credential.

I just can't explain enough what a kick ass teacher this young lady is.

Five years ago I hired her, and she became the target of a nasty clique of teachers. They harassed her, made fun of her, spread rumors about her, told the principal that she didn't understand things, etc. This almost devastated the teacher because she is very sensitive and a couple of times the teachers made her cry. As a result, they nicknamed her "la llorona" after the mythical woman (Mexican myth) who roamed the countryside at night crying and looking for her children.

The teacher finally made an appointment with me and explained the situation. I was quite aware of the viciousness of these teachers, because I had faced similar attacks by them years ago when I was teaching. One of them is still hot after me, trying to make me look bad as much as she can.

I told the young teacher, "Suck it up and NEVER let them see you cry. They are just jealous of you because they can sense that you have a lot of potential. Don't allow them to tear you down".

You see, at the time she was beginning to believe that there was something wrong with her. However, she sucked it up and carried on.

For a couple of years her principal constantly underestimated her, believing all the rumors about her incompetence. Her principal also didn't include her in leadership positions in the same manner that is happening to her at this moment.

I eventually intervened and worked with the teacher to get her transferred to what we thought would be a better setting. And it was a great setting for the first year-until the bitch vice principal came and started to block the teacher from developing to her full capacity. Now this vice principal is trying to tear her down, put her down and break her self esteem much in the same way that the nasty clique of teachers did to her two years ago.

So we've come full circle again, and on Friday she was sitting in my office crying again. I allowed her to cry and cry and then I said, "I'm just going to be blunt. You better just get used to this crap and in time you will grow thick skin. People are always going to do this to you because you are young, you are a woman, you are a Latina, and you are extremely talented. People will always try to block you from developing to your true potential, will always try to convince you that you can't do something, yet you need to just believe in your own capabilities. If people don't mentor you or give you leadership opportunities, just trust in yourself and keep searching for other people who will. There is always going to be something about you that threatens other people, and they will try to bump you down to their level to make themselves feel better".

I hope that I am not brainwashing this young lady into being cynical or jaded, but it's the only advice that I know how to give. Well, I could tell her how to chop off heads, but I suppose she's not yet ready for that.

I give this advice because it's all I know, having been in the same type of situation as her my entire life. As a teacher I always watched the lame asses and butt kissers get the leadership positions. To this day people try to talk down to me, make me look bad, and sabotage something that I am working on. When I applied for a management position, all the naysayers told me that I was too young. In fact, my boss refused to write a letter of recommendation for me when I applied for this position because of all the rumors that he heard about me. He has since apologized and claims that everyone seriously underestimates my potential to this day.

Years ago, I instinctively felt that I needed to accrue a mountain of degrees, credentials and certificates in much the same way as this young teacher has done. I did this because I had the instinct that a naysayer or jealous person might be sitting on an interview panel if I applied for a job. In my case, this is exactly what happened to me, and my boss later told me that a few people were trying to block me from the position yet I was more qualified than the other candidates.

As a young girl my aunt once told me, "You are a Latina and a girl. You need to make sure that you look better on paper than many other people because if not you will be blocked from many things that you want to do in life. You need to be more qualified than most white men".

I've always carried that thought with me, and it has served me well. I have had to claw my way into positions of leadership that might not have been available if I had not stacked up the credentials on my resume. I have forged ahead when people have told me to not do something because I believe in myself and my abilities. I can only hope that this young teacher sucks it up and continues to believe in herself and excel. I hope that I am not making her jaded and that she will learn how to swim with sharks and not get bitten.

What are your opinions? Has anything like this ever happened to you? What would you have told this young teacher?

Next Question: Does this kind of crap happen to MEN on this type of scale? Male perspectives always welcome! 

Beat Them At Their Game: 
Ambition is Not a Dirty Word: A Woman's Guide to Earning Her Worth and Achieving Her Dream
The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work
The 48 Laws of Power


Della Lee said...

I am so proud of you! You are an example to all the young Latina teachers AND to the non-Latinas as well.

Wicked Bitch, Latina Fatale said...

Thanks sweetie xoxo.

You are right! This crap happens to many talented women, regardless of ethnicity or race

Anonymous said...

No. Nothing like this happens to Men.

You may have men who don't help you...or may even haze you when you're young.

But men RARELY engage in the systematic Destruction of careers. Certainly not out of MERE jealousy, envy, or fear.

She is lucky to have you in her life.

Hell, Were lucky to have you in ours.

Joseph said...

Women can be so cruel to each other when they are jealous. It is true what The Ink said, that most men just don't tend to dedicate the time to completely destroy someone. They will tear others down, but in the long run are too self involved to carry out the deed.

There is a truly empowering interview series that you should check out, of professional women in online journalism. http://www.ourblook.com/Table/Gender-Studies-and-Media/
It was conducted by the University of Iowa, Fall 2009 Gender and Mass Media class.

Meg at Demanding Joy said...

You gave her good advice. In my experience, if you have to be twice as good to get half as far, well, then you better go ahead and be four times as good. Sad but true.

Someone (Maya Angelou?) once said that there's a special place in hell for women who don't support other women.

C said...

Awesome. She does need to suck it. I work in a very southern environment, one of few Latinas where I work, and I know from experience that the put downs and rumors live in kind whether you are among your own race or another group. When I was in the military my Latina peers were the rumor mill for me and where I work now - it's the white southern women peers that feel they have something to prove. Is it because I am Mexican and I have an MBA? I did not have an MBA when I was in the military so what is it? Just women being women or jealous insecure people that what a target on which to release their own fears.