Speak Your Truth, Even If Your Voice Shakes
The aftermath of To My Younger Self on International Women’s Day
Last year on International Women’s Day I published a blog post detailing some of the challenges I have faced during my career because I am a woman. For many years I dealt with these issues in near silence — only discussing with other trusted female friends and colleagues who, unsurprisingly, faced many of the same issues.
This time last year all of these past experiences were at the forefront of my mind. I had just left a company because of the toxic ‘boys club’ culture to join another that was also almost entirely men. Only two of my new coworkers were women— I was the eldest and most senior out of all of us. I was nervous as hell, to say the least.
For too long I subscribed to the mentality of — don’t ruffle too many feathers about this because it might hurt your future employment opportunities. Well, last year I said FUCK THAT, and here’s what happened.
“No matter what you say someone will be butthurt.”
I released that post into the wild to which I received nothing but support from my female friends and colleagues. My male friends and current colleagues remained mostly silent about it so I really have no idea if they read it or not. Which fine, it wasn’t for them anyway, it was for me and all the other women in my orbit that have faced the same problems.
The following week is where things got interesting. I had left my former company 3 months prior with little to no interaction between me and my former male coworkers. When I published the article I cross-posted it across all my social media profiles as one does, thinking anyone that is half paying attention to my online presence would skim it and move on. In my post, I made no mention of names only referencing specific incidents that had happened to me directly during my time at different companies throughout my career.
The Monday after my post went live, former male coworkers who probably hadn’t thought twice about me since my departure started viewing my LinkedIn profile every day. That’s when things started getting back to me about what these former coworkers had to say about my post — below are some tidbits shared with me (paraphrased):
‘You can call me a lot of things but sexist isn’t one of them.’
‘I’m so far away from being sexist and if anything I treat women better than I treat men.’
‘He has completely short circuited over your blog post.’
‘They are taking it as a personal attack.’
None of these things were shared directly with me by the people that took me sharing my viewpoint on specific incidents as a ‘personal attack.’ This furthers my point that they are a part of the problem. I didn’t write it to get an apology or acknowledgment because I don’t need it. I wrote it to get something off my chest that I had been silent about for far too long. I will no longer settle for being treated less than in the workplace because of my gender. If you have a problem with me speaking my truth then maybe you need to take a good hard look at how you actually treat other people instead of immediately going on the defensive.
If any potential future employers with me speaking up for myself and other people like me in the workplace, that’s OK because I don’t need you. I am perfectly capable of being my most authentic loud mouth self and finding a place that fits me, not the other way around. I said it before, and I will say it again:
“If a company does not suit you, leave. If your leaders are going to treat you differently because you are a woman, leave. No paycheck is worth that and I promise you will land on your feet.”
Now here is the best part of the aftermath of this article. I was really nervous about what those at my current company would have to say — even though not a single piece of the previous post was written about anyone at my current company it’s still controversial and my name is directly tied to the company. However, something amazing actually happened. My CEO told me how much he LOVED my article and told me to “keep saying stuff.” I can not express how much of a relief that was and how amazing it feels to be at a company that lets me be me.
I have worked in the tech industry for almost 8 years now and this is truly the first company that I have ever worked at where I am not treated differently because of my gender or because I don’t fit into the quiet, pretty, skinny, don’t ruffle anyone’s feathers box that society has told women is the only acceptable way for them to exist in the workplace alongside men. It feels fucking great.
To all the young women out there on the come-up, please keep searching for your place. You will find it. Don’t settle and always speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.