I have not kept my fighting-for-part-time situation a secret from my coworkers. In fact, I have tried to do the opposite. Keeping this struggle a secret, known only to the powers-that-be, my family and me, while perhaps safer for me, is not what I want to do. There is power in a fight being public. There is liberation is saying "this is not fair" to the group that is trying to put you down. There is unity in telling others and having them stand beside you in the fight.
I guess it should not be surprising that I had a coworker tell me that I should just go along with whatever the Firm/the partner wanted. Don't I know that he is powerful? Aren't I aware that he could make my life a living hell? Don't I know that it could be worse? Am I sure that I want to do this?
Yes, I know. I am aware. And, yes, I am sure.
For years, women have been told to keep their problems private, that their problems are relegated to the domestic sphere, that their problems are not the problems of the public. And it is that privacy that, in part, has kept women down.
I have no intentions of running through the halls screaming. I will not intentionally burn bridges. BUT, I will diplomatically state what the problems are. I will make my voice heard. I will not be quiet.
A strange thing has happened since I decided that I would not go quietly. For years, I have felt as though the Firm, the work, the people were draining my self-confidence. I felt as though I had no power over my life. I could have hours, days and months taken away from me. I had no voice.
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I had planned a long weekend away and I was going to take Monday off. At the last minute (about 5:00 on Friday), I was told that I was needed in the office on Monday, just in case one of the higher ups had questions for me on a pro bono brief that I had written a month earlier. A bit later that evening, the same partner called and said, "hey, since you're not going away this weekend, would you pitch in on a project on Saturday and Sunday?" I wrote a snarky email and said "no." It was the only time I said no to work (well, that time and the request to pitch in on a "time intensive" project the day that I went out on maternity leave). But since I have decided to fight, I feel like I finally have a voice. I feel like, bit by bit, my self-confidence may be eeking back in. I have decided to stand-up for what I believe in, and it feels so very good.