As a woman, I try to educate myself as much as I can on this relevant topic. Feminism is a movement – a complicated, worldwide, controversial movement. What I can directly understand is the way that feminism has impacted me in my everyday life. Feminism means empowerment.
It all starts with an idea.
As an aspiring businesswoman with an entrepreneurial spirit, I have been exploring concepts I care about these past few years. I have been challenging myself to pitch, practice, and pursue ideas that have meaning to me.
Then it gets louder.
I love that in the name of entrepreneurship, I have gotten to satisfy my creative curiosity as I put my ideas out there to the world. What I don’t love is the spiteful voice that always seems to be whispering in my ear.
Stop talking now. Stop before they figure out you’re a fraud.
I try to ignore it, but it starts talking at the worst times. Networking events, interviews, coffee dates, you name it.
You shouldn’t be here. Why are you lying to yourself and to other people? Don’t tell them you can do that. You can’t. You know you can’t. Great. Not only are you going to fail, it’s going to be the worst failure anyone has ever seen.
If this voice sounds familiar to you, then I am sorry to hear both of us are haunted by the same self-doubt that has come to be known as the imposter syndrome, a phenomenon that seems to be affecting the increasingly successful women of today’s workforce. According to the Economist, internal research conducted by Hewlett-Packard discovered that when it comes to their careers, women tend to only apply for jobs they feel they are 100% qualified for. Talk about setting the bar high. The same study found that male candidates do not hold back from applying even if they only meet 60% or less of the requirements.
In the face of deep-rooted double standards, gender gaps, and glass ceilings, it is not a surprise that women naturally come off as less confident. Even Maya Angelou herself suffered from self-doubt, and is quoted saying “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.”
For me, Feminism is the answer to that insecurity. Because of feminism, our society has made great strides towards equality, especially equality for women. Yet, women still have to work harder to prove themselves in the workplace. Because I am inspired by feminism, inspired by role models such as Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Watson, and Sophia Amoruso who share their stories, I feel more capable than ever to face those challenges.
Be proud of who you are, proud of what makes you different, and proud to stand up for yourself and your worth.
Feminism means endless opportunity for someone to reach their goals, opportunity that is not limited by institutionalized values and especially not limited by self-doubt. My meaning of feminism is relative to my experience, my values, my life and my career. My hope is that feminism continues to inspire and empower people, because every statistic, every shared personal story, every conversation about this topic brings us closer to a world in which no one is held back from reaching their potential.
So tell me, what does feminism mean to you?