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What it’s like to face ‘benevolent sexism’ in the workplace

When Catherine Lockinger landed a job at IBM in 2018, it felt like she was watching her future career unfold before her. After a five-year stint in the art world, Lockinger had pivoted to product management and found her stride in consulting roles before being recruited by IBM. This job would give Lockinger the opportunity to build her own team and tackle a compelling business problem. But that wasn’t the only appeal. “I was really excited about going into a company that’s not consulting because I wouldn’t be traveling so much,” she says. “And they have an excellent parental leave policy.” 

Working at IBM exceeded even her high expectations, and Lockinger thrived in her role. “I love working—period, full stop, for better or worse,” she says. In May 2020, she gave birth to twins, and worked up until the night before her delivery. As she started maternity leave, Lockinger received a special equity award—a recognition that she was a high performer. “Honestly [I was] looking forward to a long time at IBM,” she says. “My colleagues from Deloitte went off to Amazon and these other companies, and I remember saying to them, ‘Amazon wishes they were IBM. They’ve been around [for] 100 years; you hope to be this company.’ And there’s a lot of opportunities [at] a 400,000 person company. There’s anywhere you could go in your career there if you do well.” 

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