My fiancé often asks me why I’m so hard on women. He sometimes even jokes saying I’m sexist because I have gender biased points of view on many things, most of them being related to careers – which is one of my main focus in life. Before he asked, I had never really wondered. I had even never really realize, I think. I started focusing on what I had to say on women and yes, I can be really hard. Why ?
Because if we are not hard on ourselves, others will be anyway. I have a really good friend, she is brillant, interesting, nice and open-minded. But she really lacks self-confidence and it’s destroying herself and her career as well. She is like too many women who think they can’t make it because we learn, from our very first days, to act and think like Disney princesses. And yes, I’m too hard with her.
I think I watched and read all existing content on Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO, because she explained better than anyone before (yes, even better than Simone de Beauvoir) how women are conditioned to feel like we don’t deserve what we have. She says women have to lean in: sit at the table (don’t stay behind, if you have something to say/negotiate/claim, do it), make a partner a real partner (a men picturing is wife as his cleaning lady is not a proper husband) and finally don’t leave before you leave (meaning you don’t have to think about what you are going to miss during your maternity leave days before you’re pregnant, you can miss huge opportunities).
As a young woman in tech in a country that is not mine, I think of it every single day. Leaving your country to live the startup dream in a cool city sounds really sexy, and it’s amazing, but it’s not that easy. Like too many women, I used to be really shy and I lacked self confidence. I’ve always thought I was clever but not good enough to use what I have inside me for something that matters. I would not lead, I would not decide, I would not be what I wanted to because of that « woman being » thing.
And well, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and just live something. Something I’ve wanted to for a very long time. I’m doing big mistakes and great things, like every one of us, men and women. That’s life. That’s not being a woman. And yes, I still have a gender biased view when it comes to women who don’t try. We have to show men how equal we are. That’s how we are going to reach equality. I know that article, like everything else on the topic, should not be written now. It should not be a topic at all. But it is.
Finally, I know it can be harder for some of us. I am lucky to have wonderful parents who have always told me how awesome I am. I have a perfect fiancé who is definitely a real partner, and the best I could have. I work in a startup full of wonderful guys, where I’ve never had a single issue related to gender because they’ve never done anything that could have made me realize I was somehow different – and God yes, we are different.
Yes it’s easier for me. But it has not always been like that. So now, when I’m asked why I’m too hard, I just tell about all these women who could be doing something else, something bigger.