When Gender is a Non-Issue

Posted on January 22, 2011 by


In a January 22nd interview with The New York Times, Freight CEO and President Judy McReynolds explains how she was able to pursue a high-stress career as a woman.

I told my husband, Lance, that I was concerned about balancing a career and motherhood. […] [H]e offered to stay home with our boys until they were settled into school. A number of women are distracted by their responsibilities outside of work. Lance has allowed me to focus completely on work while I’m in the office.


I told myself early on that I wasn’t going to make gender an issue in my career or allow other people to do so. I also had those early-childhood experiences that made me feel secure. Occasionally I’d hear a comment, but I refused to make it a problem.

During one of my pregnancies, my boss assumed that I wouldn’t want to travel to a client’s annual meeting, which wasn’t true. I attended, and it worked out well.

True to her belief that gender shouldn’t have to be “an issue,” McReynolds spends the bulk of the interview talking about things other than her femininity. But the Times chose to highlight the gender angle of the piece by titling it, “The Gender Non-Issue.”

And that didn’t go over well with the ladies at Jezebel, for whom gender is most decidedly An Issue. Lauri Apple writes:

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Sometimes people make gender an issue for you. Sometimes they do it in intolerable ways, through sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault. It’s not a personal weakness if you can’t just suck it up and go with the flow.

Good for you if you can avoid having gender become an issue in your life, because you’re lucky or live in some gender-equitable, enlightened utopia such as Norman, Oklahoma or the state of Arkansas. Most of us can’t, and it’s not by choice.

Alright, Ms. Apple; we get it! It can be tough to be a woman in America! But not every woman feels oppressed; not every woman has sexual harassment horror stories; and if Judy McReynolds managed to have a successful career without her gender getting in the way, why do you feel the need to belittle that accomplishment with a snide treatise about how not all women can “go with the flow?”

If Ms. McReynolds presented herself as a victim—if she told stories about how difficult it was for her to work in a male-dominated business world—then the feminists of the world would unite behind her. But because she worked hard not to allow herself to be victimized, progressive feminists like Lauri Apple seem to feel a bit cheated. It’s a shame—-because Judy McReynolds is a model for young women today, and we should treat her as such.