respect

Nevertheless, She Persisted

By the members of Berkeley Women in Business

As a community of young women, we reject the misogynistic notions that females should be quiet. We stand in defiance to the messages telling us that women are incompetent or weak. We are a body of powerful, intelligent and successful women who would like to share a collection of personal experiences. These are our stories of persistence.

 

I was told that I’m incapable of managing a company, because I’m a young female. Instead of being valued for my intellect and experience, I was told that I’m “too pretty”. I prove those people wrong every day by continuing to grow my organization and create more success. I’d like to show the world that I am capable of any obstacle, through my strength, wisdom and courage.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Ana Mancia

 

As a woman pursuing a career in startups/venture capital, I've personally encountered sexism from male colleagues in the workplace who still inherently possess the notion that this industry, while traditionally male-dominated, should persist to be so. I prove these people wrong every day through my drive and passion to learn everything I possibly can about the industry, specifically my particular interest in financial technology, and my insatiable work ethic and persistence, whether that is generating as many startup leads as possible, speaking with entrepreneurs about their business models, or advocating for a particular deal from start to finish.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Anonymous

I have been diagnosed with mental disorders since my freshman year of high school. I battled anorexia then, and I battle depression and bipolar disorder now. But I know I am not defined by my illness. I continue to pursue my passion in technology, challenging the barrier against women in STEM. Now, I am an entrepreneur coach, a writer, and a contributor for Product Hunt. Without my past, I would not be the resilient and empowered woman I am today. I have, and will, continue to persist for passion.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Kat Nguyen

 

Though I have grown up with a supportive family, encouraging teachers, and affectionate friends, I’ve always been timid and afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. Every day, I see a new case of rape, gender inequality, abuse, illness, and terror whether I want to or not and every time, I am reminded of the egocentricity within me for not already having made a difference. I am an advocate for the quote “everything happens for a reason” and believe that I was given an eye for social issues for a reason. I know that things are a lot easier said than done, but I plan on making my words, ideas, and plans come to life no matter what serpentine path life takes me on... because that's what leaders do. What I am coming to realize is that me wanting to make a difference outside of my world is actually making an even bigger difference within myself.  

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Suhitha Kosuri

 

I was interviewed for a intern position at a startup and very quickly, I realized that I was the only female in the office. My interviewer was very direct and the impostor syndrome started to set in. It was very intimidating at first, but I ended up being hired after I persisted to show them examples of my work. It ended up being one of the coolest groups of people I have ever worked with.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Angie Mejia

Growing up, I always felt pressured to look a certain way. This pressure led to years of self doubt, low confidence, and an obsession with weight loss. But eventually I realized that my value is not rooted in the way I look, but the way I think. Today I always try to focus on living a healthy lifestyle--for both my body and especially my brain.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Leila Mohaddes

As I was growing up, my mom was often forced to put her career on hold to help raise my brother and I. Especially in the fast paced world of tech, this put her goals at odds with family life. Over the years, she really emphasized to me the value of communication, and it was these skills that allowed her to strike a great work-life balance with the help of her superiors and colleagues. Her hard work has really paid off recently as I have gone to college, and I am so proud that she is able to pursue her passions in tech even more. I feel so lucky to have been brought up by someone that is so dedicated, kind, and a great role model.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Deeksha Chaturvedi

How to be Taken Seriously, as a Young Female Leader

By Ana Claire Mancia

I am nineteen years old and manage a swim lesson company in Los Angeles. For the past several years, I have helped develop the company and watched it grow into a large organization with thousands of clients. I currently handle many of the company’s operations, especially in the summer when our work schedule is extremely busy. We have about 10 employees who teach swim lessons, and I supervise our program.

Learning to be taken seriously as a young female is one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned. I remember attending my first business conference, to network and speak about the company. I didn’t entirely know what “business casual attire” meant at 17 years old, since our company’s uniform was a swimsuit. I put on a regular, colorful dress and drove to the conference, not expecting that I would be the only person under 25 and clearly not dressed for the occasion!

When I spoke about our organization to a large room of people, I knew they viewed me as a young, inexperienced kid who was in the wrong place. It was definitely a cringe-worthy morning. What bothered me the most however, was the amount of professional men who sat next to me afterward and said things like:

“You’re very pretty.”

“How old are you?”

“Do you actually run a swim company?”

“Are you single?”

I left the conference embarrassed and angry that I hadn’t been taken seriously. Meanwhile, I was watching my company expand and our revenue nearly doubling each year. I quickly learned from that experience, and vowed to always be taken seriously.

Three years later, I know that as a young female, you must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else. When people question you, you must be ready to prove how knowledgeable you are and convince them to trust you. You must exude capability and confidence, until people actually believe you.

"You must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else."

Unfortunately, there is very little room for mistake in my role. If I do something incorrectly, it is much harder to recover from it. I have learned to be twice as careful as a man would be, to always make sure there are zero errors.

Our staff respects me because I value them and treat them with respect in return. I try very hard to always treat them as my equals, by taking their suggestions into account and giving them freedom and flexibility in their teaching style. I see my role as just making sure each day runs smoothly, because I trust them to deliver good service to our clients and do their job correctly. Our mutual trust has been crucial in terms of maintaining a strong relationship.

My job has gotten significantly easier as time goes on. Our clients and partners have learned to take me seriously and respect me. The amount of times my authority is questioned has drastically decreased.

This shift in attitude occurred because I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak. As a young female in charge, it is important to know every detail of your company because skeptics will almost certainly quiz you. They are searching for proof that you are capable of being a professional leader. Learning to shut them down has been thrilling.

"I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak."

I am proud of how much the company has grown, over the past five years. In the summer, I usually work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, because there are so many clients and not enough employees. We continuously need to hire more staff, and obtain more pool space. After teaching swim lessons, I am at my computer for hours, processing invoices, sending emails, calling clients, booking people, and creating schedules. Though this sounds like a nightmare, I sincerely enjoy it because we have taught thousands of children to swim in LA County. Drowning is still the leading cause of death for children in California.

In conclusion, young female leaders must always be ahead of the game. With the odds stacked against us, we are forced to overcome distrust, skepticism, objectification, and disrespectful treatment. I pushed through it by becoming as educated as possible. I am not afraid to show my authority, and prove my ability to operate a company. I pay attention to every detail, and search for errors. The company requires an enormous investment of my time – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

 

How My Boss Sexually Harassed Me

In a professional setting, women often need to work twice as hard as men, for the same benefits. We are continually faced with a plethora of unnecessary obstacles to prevent our success, and rarely receive the same respect as our male counterparts. One of the most difficult challenges we encounter is sexual harassment in the workplace. We are regularly at risk of being objectified, and being valued for our bodies rather than our intellect and capabilities. Sexual harassment can be extremely damaging for a woman, as it can bring feelings of anger, self-loathing, frustration, worthlessness and isolation. It is a manifestation of the unequal power dynamic between men and women, and a tactic to keep women subordinate.

At Berkeley Women In Business, we fight to end sexual harassment through advocacy and education. We believe every woman deserves to feel safe in her professional environment, and that harassment should not interfere with a woman’s ability to succeed in the workplace.

One of our members, who would like to remain anonymous for privacy purposes, would like to share her story of the sexual harassment she experienced during a job several years ago. We believe her story is highly important, because this unfortunate issue is far too common. Many women who experience sexual harassment feel isolated, and we want to emphasize that you are never alone. Here is her courageous story:

I began my first job during my freshman year at UC Berkeley. At first, I truly enjoyed the job, even though my boss gave me a strange vibe. We were in a small office, with hardly anyone else there. He would tell me about employees that used to work for him, but they never stayed long. I learned that employees would just come and go, and quit very quickly. Nobody stayed longer than several months. Of course, this information confused me because I could not immediately detect anything wrong.

Whenever I visited my boss, he was always very affectionate. He would text me and it would be overwhelming. He would call me his “favorite staff member”, and say “you’re the greatest person in the world.” It would honestly make me feel awful, because I felt a need to live up to his expectations. At the same time, I was extremely uncomfortable from all this special attention. I knew it was not appropriate, but this had never happened to me before, so I had no idea how to handle it. He texted me on Valentine’s Day, telling me that I was “his Valentine”. Shortly afterward, the physical inappropriateness began. He would hug me far too much, and hold my waist. He kissed me on the cheek multiple times, and it was disgusting.

On the BART ride home, I started crying. I realized how horrifically violated and ashamed I felt. It was a feeling of terrible unease. Though he was my boss and I wanted him to write me professional recommendations, I knew this situation was wrong. I felt guilty and blamed myself for perhaps talking to him too much. I shamed myself for texting him back, even though he always texted first. I should not have let him hug me, let alone kiss my cheek.

"It was a feeling of terrible unease."

 

I decided to vocalize my feelings, and tell him I felt uncomfortable. He found ways to spin it back on me, and said “but you hugged me too”. I got a strange sentiment that he was waiting for that moment, just to blame his behavior on me. I quit my job, despite the fact that I needed professional development. It was not worth it to me. I stopped speaking to him, and began my personal healing process.

The most important thing I learned was to respect myself. It was unacceptable to rely on other people for my own value and self worth. I understood that my mistake during the job was not being in touch with my own feelings. I had forgotten to listen to my intuition, and allowed him to control me.

My message to all young professional women is to remain strong, and never let a predatory boss take advantage of you. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, be communicative, and do not ever feel ashamed of yourself. You are merely trying to start out in the world, and sexual harassment is never your fault.

As women, we can build a support network for each other to overcome this problem and fight for equality. We must speak up for each other and demand to be treated with respect. We are so powerful together, and can achieve our dreams without fear.