Today is International Women’s day and I wanted to share some thoughts I had about women empowerment. My husband attended a “Women of Impact” conference this week while we were in Barcelona on his work trip. I would’ve loved to attend but it was for employees only unfortunately. Being that it was for a big corporation that I too worked for many, many moons ago, I felt inspired to write something about women empowerment especially after meeting some amazing women from his work this week.
Last night I was thinking about the conference my husband went to and it made me wonder what they talked about and wished that I got to listen to what they had to say. I was told that some people around the room got to say something and I started envisioning myself in a big room full of confident, ambitious women saying something and thought, ‘what could I say that could impact these women’s lives in some way? What would my story be?’ My mind is full of imaginary conversations so it went a little something like this.
“Um hi.” Wait don’t say um. Be bold and confident. Okay. “Hi, I’m Jessica. I don’t work here but I wanted to join this session in hopes of learning something new because I love the women empowerment movement that I’ve seen rising lately. I do want to share a story I have about when I too used to work for Cisco. Although I loved my job, I had a tough time there because I had a female boss who was a bully to me and treated me very poorly. I often wondered why are (not all of course) so many female bosses like this? Do they feel they have something to prove because their role is superior to someone else’s or is it because they’re trying to make a point that females can be strong leaders like men? I had a very tough time with this boss to the point where I would have anxiety, go home crying, and many times relieved that my work shift was over, but dreading the next day because I didn’t know what drama I’d have to endure. Every single day I had to report what I completed for the day, I had to message her when I was in the office and when I was leaving. How can anyone accomplish their job properly when they have to do all these extra little things that are not even important for their job role? And those are just the small things I had to deal with. I always walked on eggshells with her. I dealt with this role for four years and I honestly don’t know how. It wasn’t until one day when she went thru my laptop in front of me because she wanted to see what work I had actually been doing because she felt I wasn’t working hard enough. She even forwarded a personal email someone wrote me, to herself WITHOUT my permission. But guess who’s fault that was. Okay sure it was hers but technically, it was mine. I let her do it. I should’ve stood up for myself and told her, “no you can’t go thru my laptop and my emails. That is illegal and I can report you” but instead I was a pushover because I was scared of her. Scared she could fire me somehow for not letting her torment me. Well that day I decided I was going to quit so I found another job within a month without complaining to HR about her even though I should have. I did start a complaint but I was beyond ready to leave and put this awful mess behind me that I never finished the complaint before I left even though I felt she shouldn’t have gotten away with it. I was fed up with her trying to control me and I eventually became diagnosed with PTSD because of her.
It’s been 8 years since I left and I still sometimes can’t do something without someone’s approval. Instead of just doing what I know I need to do, I start to second guess myself as if I’m not good enough because it was how she made me feel and then I feel the need to have someone authorize my task first. I’ve gotten much better overtime but it made my next jobs pretty tricky because my bosses were confused as to why I was always asking for their permission on everything. I never felt this way with male bosses, why is this? I’ve heard of many people who had a much more difficult time with a female boss than a male boss because they feel they get this controlling power trip. That actually makes me sad for us women because women should lift each other up. We are technically supposed to be naturally nurturing so why are so many female bosses so mean and controlling? “Women empowerment” should be just that, empowering other women NOT POWERING over women.” I imagine the room would fill with the audience clapping, but I’m still not finished.
“Thank you. I also want to add something simple yet profound that my husband said the other day. I overheard him on a call with one of his employees and he was very sincere and professor-like and said something along the lines of ‘I don’t want to tell you what to do, I want you to figure it out on your own, on what works best for you.’ He was guiding this person but letting them figure out what works best for them and letting them be in control instead of controlling them. Women are not meant to be controlled. Actually NO ONE is meant to be controlled. That’s why I have such a hard time understanding how people can try to control one another the way my boss from the past did with me.”
I fell asleep shortly after this imaginary speech and then woke up feeling grateful that I met some amazing women through my husband’s work conference. They have such big hearts, are strong and just all around genuine, fun women. I saw a friend of mine while I went to get breakfast in the hotel, and she invited me to sit with her and her friends. Even though I had such a migraine and a part of me felt I needed to be alone, I accepted her invitation because I also knew I needed some women bonding time and I was so glad I did. It honestly felt like the best mom’s group that I had been missing out on. I say mom’s group because we pretty much only talked about motherhood. We laughed a lot but also talked about some deep, serious topics such as postpartum depression, intrusive thoughts, colicky babies, and all sorts of things that sometimes you’re afraid to talk about with anyone in fear of being judged or even having your child taken away. Instead, I came out of that conversation feeling confident, reassured, and calm in what I was doing was great as a mom and feeling like I gained new female friends. And do you know how hard that is for a woman? One of them even said “Men need their wives to survive, but women need other women” and that is so freaken true! We need our bonding time to grow and glow. Just that one conversation inspired me to continue going forward with my idea of forming a local mom’s group in Portugal so thank you ladies for having me join you. :)
I also met my husband’s boss who is a woman, an amazing woman at that, and I feel she is an example of how bosses should be. Granted I don’t work with her so I may not know what her work style is like, but the way she’s so fun about things yet takes action when needed, engages in real conversations as if you’ve known each other forever showed me a pretty good glimpse of her style. She was so easy to talk to and comforting and I truly feel that is the kind of boss we need in a workplace. Women who care and support each other is a HUGE necessity in life.
Another example of a lady boss that I can’t resist talking about is a blogger friend of mine Mandana Ansari | @girlandthebay . That girl, NO, that fierce ass WOMAN, is THE kind of woman you want around as a BFF, your motivation, your muse, the girl who tells you how good you look, how AMAZING you are doing with yourself, your yaaass queen, your you-got-this babe. It’s no surprise she is where she is today because of her positive energy that we all need in our lives. Just watching her posts and stories on instagram inspires me to be a better person and continue working on my dreams as a blogger. And on a side note, I believe everyone needs friends like her in their lives and everyone SHOULD be friends like her to their friends. If you’re not following her on IG or her blog do it NOW!
I will end my long but loving post with this: If you’re going to be of power then it better be to empower each other and if you have a leader or manager who takes advantage of their “powerful” role, then you need to not be afraid to address them because what do you have to lose? Nothing! You will only gain dignity, strength, and most importantly, self-love.