REFLECTIONS FROM BOTH SIDES of the GLASS CEILING
(Finding My True Self In Corporate America) by Stephanie Battaglino (2020)
Published by L’Oste Vineyard Press
I’ll begin with a confession. Before I signed up to attend Ms. Battaglino’s presentation and Q&A period in Palm Springs a few weeks ago, I had never heard of her. I am certain of that as I have a thing for unusual words and names. Unfortunately I missed her presentation as I had to attend a social affair earlier in the evening, but I made it in time for the majority of her Q&A session. It really stood out to me that she was very candid in answering the questions put to her. I’m always impressed when people choose to be very open about very personal subjects. It says a lot about their commitment to what they are doing.
Conceptually, this book shares a lot with Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness as it covers ones early life and struggles with gender identity and continues into adulthood, transitioning and what comes after. However, Stephanie’s chronology also includes her early professional career, which occurred in a very haphazard fashion, 2 failed marriages, her relationship with her son, her later career when Michael began to hit his stride professionally and workplace experiences as Stephanie compared to what Michael experienced.
As with many trans people, our paths to lasting self awareness are not linear. Stephanie’s was stop and start many times over. Also not uncommonly, there were periods of drinking too much, contemplating suicide and other facets that we see in many stories. For me, the most interesting part was the difference in the workplace before and after transition. Only then did she have a detailed understanding of the differences in the workplace as a function of gender and how male privilege works. The difference was eye-opening for her. I suspect that many of us have read a number of coming out and transition accounts. However, this one stands out due to its detailed account as she became more aware of the different treatment that women received in the workplace. The sum total of these experiences led her to be not only being a trans activist, but also a women’s equality advocate.
There was also a bit of a personal connection. When I mentioned the company from which I retired, she said that not long ago she had been brought in as a consultant. A trans person had been hired and she was asked to help the co-workers understand the situation and get the “dumb stuff” (my words) out of the way. I checked with a friend of mine that I knew from my days with the LGBT employee affinity group and learned that Stephanie did an excellent job of preparing the co-workers and allaying the fears of the new employee.
I recommend this book because it provides a lot of insight regarding one person’s journey as well as great detail for how gender differences play out in the workplace. Transitioning in place is a difficult proposition, particularly if you are the first. This book provides a lot of information about the process if you need to help guide your management and HR staff.
The Valley here is really a collection of small towns. It seems like everyone knows everyone. In that context, I am likely to cross paths with Stephanie again. I look forward to that…