I was at a Halloween party earlier this year when a guy tried striking up a conversation with me. Being the all too ~suave~ human that I am, I ventured into flirtation territory with much aplomb and all but one pick up line.
“What do you do?”
It came out as more of a formality; a question poised to try to get to know someone by way of their career choice and passions. The innocent Q was reminiscent of a culture I grew up accustomed to where asking what a man does for a living is almost as common as asking who his parents are. It made me think about how often we ask women what they do, and if it’s ranked first or second if at all on their personal latter of question significance the way it is for women. If it is of importance, how often do we follow up with, “Oh that’s cute!” or “That’s a nice way to keep busy.”
We both went into detail about what we did and after I asked him all the inquiries my inquisitive mind could muster in one breath, he said, “I feel like we're in an interview” To which I ~suavely~ responded, “Well, if this were an interview, I would most definitely hire you.” Not one of my finer moments.
I replayed the conversation to my friend on our ride home. “Fuck,” I said. “Do I make every guy I talk to at a party feel like they’re in the hot seat?” As an avid over-thinker and curious being I usually skip small talk and move straight into hard-hitting queries, relating to people mostly by picking their brain.
Later that year I was at that same friend’s house and we were talking about badass millennial women in our community who were killing it in their careers. My friend suggested I interview them and here we are now. Women won’t be shocked by the next sentiment I’m about to share, but men (hi men do you read this blog you’re cool and I like you), miiiight be taken by surprise. Girls talk shit about each other all the time. We put each other down in a subconscious rage of envy. We don’t encourage each other enough, or highlight our achievements as much as we should. For an unspoken girl code and a generation where we strive for equality between men and women, we need to be more cognizant of treatment and equality between women. Where is my girl gang at?!
Throughout my interviews thus far, many women universally felt like not enough people asked what they did. Nor did they care. They felt like engagement and baby announcements were deemed of higher caliber than getting the job of their dreams or getting a big promotion at work. Through my findings, interestingly enough, some girls referenced a male figure who pushed them to believe they can start a business or venture into a male-dominated field. If more girls are raised with role models to look towards as pedestals of achievement, our community can progress further in our efforts to achieve a more egalitarian society.
Thankfully, most men I speak to encourage women to work and are interested in what they do. I am also thankful to be surrounded by family and friends who support my endeavors. A lot of my inspiration comes from a group chat called "The Saturday Morning Reading Club," which entails a group of like-minded and not like-minded women who voice their opinions and share articles to discuss over summer Saturday morning coffee and constant talk throughout the year. A true beacon of hope came from a male friend of mine who told me recently about a girl’s clothing line he’s starting. The message? “I just want to empower young girls.” His words, not mine.
That’s why I started What Does She Do, so young girls can be self-motivated from a young age to believe they can wear many hats and dive into their passions with the same tenacity as the women featured on my segment. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d have my work published in Harper’s Bazaar but I did because I took the first step, as platitudinous as it sounds: Believing in myself. I feel that it’s my duty to instill in our next generation the confidence to achieve great feats in two full time jobs. 1: Motherhood. 2: Their Passions. And to do it all under the framework of a partnership.
A lot of girls also mentioned the word, ‘lucky,’ which is a phenomenon among women who feel they got lucky for getting the opportunity to do what they do. Lots of women can’t see that they deserved this role, are worthy of this role, and were chosen or chose to do what they do because of their talent and skill set. I can attest to imposter syndrome- “a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and think they don’t deserve their success.” Another thing I unexpectedly realized was how different people are outside the confines of a party milieu in which boozy small talk is the only talk circulating. It was nice to see these women in a different element, to really hear their thoughts and get to know them on a deeper level. We’re very quick to judge people and often don’t get to see the brilliant talented person hidden under the mask of party talk.
I took my passion of writing and curious nature and turned it into a space where women and men can get wildly inspired by the awesome women in our community. I hope I have a daughter some day and I hope you all have daughters some day to empower and show them what she can do. Which is anything. Everything and anything.