Ladies, It’s Time to Be Fearless
Recently, the ladies of Brain Magic made a video where I change the air filter in my car – coming soon to a YouTube near you, so follow us! The video came about after I learned a friend’s boyfriend had done the same thing. I thought to myself, he has no more mechanic experience than I do. If he can do it, surely I can do it. Sounds empowered? Well, yes. But I still had my doubts. The task seemed so simple, but what if I ruined my car forever?
What if I failed?
I told my own boyfriend about my plans to play mechanic. His immediate response was, “I could do that.” No question. No doubt in his skills. He’d seen somebody do it once and was confident he could do it, too. Meanwhile, I’d watched a video of someone doing it ten times and was sure I’d somehow mess it up.
Why? I’m a smart woman. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. I was valedictorian of my high school, and I continued to win academic awards while at the University of Michigan. The last time my IQ was tested, it was above the genius level.
And yet, when I don’t know something, I don’t know it. There’s no assumption I’ll magically succeed anyway. No confidence to say, hey, I don’t know the answer, but I’ll probably figure it out. There are strict limits to my knowledge that an invisible barrier prevents me from crossing. While that’s not such a big deal when it comes to getting my car fixed, it’s a huge obstacle when it comes to more important tasks, like say, applying for a new job. If I’m not the perfect candidate for the job, why would I even dream of applying?
But men do it all the time. And they get the job. So why can’t women?
I’m sure a lot of people are going to roll their eyes and yammer at me about how I just need to have confidence or not be so timid. Just stop whining and try already!
Well, guess what? It’s not that easy.
Let’s face it. Many men (and women) refuse to believe that we ladies can be as smart or skillful (or brave or talented or funny, etc. etc.) as men. Examples of this incorrect thinking abound. Look at the most recent incident at Google where a young male employee wrote a whole letter about why women were biologically unable to work in tech. Look at the number of people in Hollywood who perpetuate the idea that ladies can’t be funny because apparently having a vagina sucks all the humor out of the room. Look at the 2016 election. A woman who was beyond qualified to be president was picked apart more than any other candidate that’s ever run.
Gender biases are real.
We don’t believe we’re good enough or we can’t do something because society keeps shouting it in our faces. Yes, women are still successful in spite of this, but I would argue that’s more a statement on the tenacity of women than a lack of a real problem. Look at the fact that women STILL get less pay than men. Ladies are literally fighting for the right to be considered as an equal human. How could that not mess with your psyche and your confidence?
So what can we do? Start by empowering each other.
Hire more women. Call out sexism when we see it. Boost up our sisters instead of feeling in competition with them. Be loud and vocal in telling each other we ARE good enough. We CAN do it.