My senior year of college, my friends and I went to a guest lecture by young feminists Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. They were touring universities and colleges in support of their book On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Finance. After apologizing for the publisher enforced inclusion of the word “girl” in the title, Manisha and Sharon proceeded to blow my mind. They wanted to ensure that women – especially young women – develop financial intelligence. They saw too many women who didn’t know how to save for retirement, set attainable budgets, understand investing and have the know how to advocate for themselves in the workplace. Particularly, they discussed the $0.75 on the dollar pay gap, and attributed it primarily to one simple fact: women are not asking for raises like their male coworkers are. Women have been taught that if you are nice and work hard, people will reward you, and that it is pushy to ask for recognition.
I’ve returned again and again to that fact in my adult working life. YOU are the only person that can look out for your own career path. Be ambitious and ask for what you need, don’t expect people to notice your effort and reward it accordingly. This outlook is a part of my larger work behavior mantra “would it be silly and laughable if a male colleague did this/phrased this sentence like this?” I don’t infantilize myself with email smiley faces and excessive exclamation points, and I don’t talk myself down or act apologetic when sharing my thoughts. Apologize if you’ve made a mistake and messed something up, don’t apologize for having a thought. I have a female coworker who, when asking questions, will always say “I guess I’m stuck on stupid today” and giggle. Will I recommend she gets a promotion? Not likely. Who else is she saying this to? It hurts my heart to think of it.
“MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants