Down at SXSW, earlier this month, I had a few fantastic conversations with women who work in the digital + creative industry. I spoke with them about their work and how they got to where they are today. These talks ended up going deeper into conversations about what it feels like to be bold with your ideas. One of them said, “For a while, I never really knew what everyone else was doing, but I assumed they did it better than me.” This shot through me like a bolt and made me instantly realize a couple of things:
1. I often make the same assumption.
2. I’m not alone.
This got me thinking about why I, and other women, often undervalue their work. I know that this isn’t a problem restricted to the female gender, but there is something pervasive in our culture and that causes more women than men to undervalue their work and their opinions.
Sheryl Sandberg hits on this point in her talk, Why we have too few women leaders. She references a few studies that show how women systematically underestimate their own abilities, and attribute their success to external factors.
This is a problem, and not just for women, but for everyone. As the old guard falls around us, being able to see problems from as many angles as possible is steadily becoming a necessity. You can’t disrupt industry from the inside, and in order to face the future we need a more gender and ethnically diverse range of problem solvers. More importantly, to get there, we need as many people as possible to be confident with their ideas, who understand and embrace the fact that their experience in the world gives them a unique perspective.
So, where do we go from here? After chatting with a few people about this issue, I’ve got a few starting points:
- Know your worth, this means actually talking to people about money
- Be vocal, blogging is really hard, but do it anyway
- Say no, to projects that don’t fit in the ‘feature list’ of your life
- Take the time, daily, to reflect positively on your work
This is where I’m at, if you have anything to add, I’d love to hear from you.