“I’m assuming someone in your position has to have a bachelor’s degree. Surely, with your intellect, you would understand where I’m coming from.”
The fact that I was a semester away from my second master’s degree didn’t matter. The condescension in his tone was so thick the room was suffocating in it.
I leveled the customer with an “are you serious?” stare but chose to ignore his words. Nothing I had to say, after all, was going to change his opinion of me.
Afterward, I felt the larger implications of what had happened. I felt violated. I felt angered. And I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I had been too afraid to speak my mind, ashamed that I had put the “image” of the company I worked for above my own self-respect.
Never had I felt the full repercussions of being a woman in the workforce until that moment in my office. I knew that man was wrong. I knew he was nothing more than an egotistical, patronizing, misogynistic jerk. Still, my self-confidence took a hit. The experience was yet another instance of when I had failed to prove myself and my worth.
Even with the push for gender equality in the workplace, corporate women must climb the confidence ladder on a daily basis. In a recent article, Sona Jepsen describes ways in which women can build their confidence, the main way being ignoring the backlash of a male-dominated culture.
Similarly, women entrepreneurs like myself have to continually climb the confidence rungs in order to make our businesses prosper and thrive (not to mention, merely exist). When “62% of women entrepreneurs depend on their business as their primary source of income” (SCORE, 2018), it’s no wonder that we often feel our confidence levels slip when our business ventures don’t go as planned.
We women can succeed, however. As Mollie Moric explains in a recent post, we can learn to take calculated risks, overcome gender gaps, and avoid being taken advantage of. Much of this starts with feeling certain of our abilities and our place and with not comparing ourselves to others, especially other women. “In order for female entrepreneurs to continue to prosper,” Moric states, “we need to work together.”
How true. Women have much stacked against them personally and professionally. As we strive to climb our career ladders, let’s make efforts to help one another climb our confidence ladders as well. Together, we can show the workforce what we’re made of. And if only for ourselves, we can prove our worth.