A few weeks back, my friend Chris (who is an unstoppable force for LGBTQ equality) asked if I’d be a part of something called "The Human Library" in Sedona. It’s an event held in September that helps dissolve prejudices and stereotypes. Essentially, I’ll be a “human book” telling my story in about 15 minutes time, and then attendees can ask me questions for another 15. I’m honored to be part of this event surrounded by incredible human beings who, in most cases, have endured prejudice and unfair treatment far worse than anything I’ve ever endured.
For me, well, my topic is about gender inequality. Here’s my book cover description…
"As a self-taught carpenter and furniture designer, and the founder and CEO of an internationally-known furniture company, she faced gender discrimination on a weekly basis for fourteen years. Despite being told she was crazy to think a woman could do what she did, she built a furniture company out of her LA garage in 2007, won a deal on the TV show SHARK TANK in 2011, and grew her brand internationally through licensing partnerships. Now, at the age of 47, she’s fighting for her transgender daughter to ensure equal rights for all genders."
When I was crafting my book cover description, I thought back to my carpentry days and all of the sexist comments, the looks, the naysayers, the grossly inappropriate comments, and a few moments where I had to leave the room in order to not strangle someone. And then I realized that even now, during a time that I’m not as entrenched in the male-dominated furniture industry (aside from designing pieces for the Frank Lloyd Wright collection), I still continue be a target for men whose egos are larger than Texas.
Ironically, when I finally ousted a few king and queen narcissists from my personal life, the same damn type of person showed up in my work life. I thought I’d left behind the old boys’ network that is still at the helm of the furniture world. Turns out, they are in or around nonprofit work, too.
My husband, who is the antithesis of the men I’m describing, is one of the good ones who does all he can to fight for gender equality. He’s even gone to bat for a woman who was being sexually harassed by a top dog in the TV industry only to find himself kicked to the curb because he stood up for her. There are a few other good ones, too. But on the whole, over the last three years that I’ve been involved in nonprofit work, I’ve seen many wolves in sheep’s clothing. And let’s be honest—most of them are older white men. That’s been my experience, at least.