Yesterday at SXSW a story resonated, as it was a story so common that we may not even consider it a story. Kat Minshew is the founder of TheMuse.com, a careers focused site that serves content and open opportunities with 2-3M users per month. She’s exceptionally poised and successful – as a Forbes 30 under 30 and Inc. 15 Women to Watch in Tech, Kat is just at the beginning of her something big.
Kat recounted a moment all women have faced while on the #SXSheRules panel. She described accompanying male friends to tech meet ups. Upon walking in the door, nobody approached her to ask who she was or what she did – as they were doing with her peers. There was an underlying assumption that she must be “the girlfriend” – a hanger-on without any of her own intentions, certainly no inventions. I’ll bet that many of those individuals end up working for her one day.
A moment of admittance: Not only have I as a woman experienced the lack of interest in who I am as a professional from others in social settings, I have made this mistake myself – I did it 4 days ago. On my flight into Austin the woman next to me recognized that I worked for Comcast (as I was ferociously designing an ad that was due that day). She told me that her husband worked for Comcast and so we went down the path of discussing what he did, what I did, and life in Philadelphia. When I exited the flight I shared the info with my colleagues in which one of them asked me, “And what did she do?” I had no answer. And I felt so stupid for it. Then I hear Kat’s story and I realize this needs more recognition.
Our conversations have to change, as well as our assumptions. Women have come a long way in breaking the glass ceiling, but it certainly still exists. “For every $1.00 white male workers make, women make $.77 and minority women make $.53. This will continue up to 2057.” – Institute for Woman Policy research.
In order to reconcile the simple fact that so many women are looked over and are not given the opportunity to share their professional ambitions, today my team and I are participating online in #AskMeWhatIdo. We’re trying to “break the internet” with not just pretty images, but with our titles, our companies and a look into our eyes. I invite you to join us – who knows what could happen. Use hashtags #AskMeWhatIdo as well as #SXSheRules to join the conversation.