I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.
But it wasn’t long until a note came in saying “everyone knows you got the position because you’re a girl.” And in spite of having a great week at a great company with great people I love, that still stung, because it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.
You see, every woman who works in tech (heck, likely every woman on earth) hears “because you’re a girl” dozens if not thousands of times in her life.
It starts young, of course:
Why can’t I join that team? Because you’re a girl.
Why can’t I study physics? Because you’re a girl.
Then, the comments age with you.
Why can’t I manage that project? Because you’re a girl.
Why can’t I join that group? Because you’re a girl.
And after you’ve reached any level of attainment in a profession you love, the comments are used to minimize your success.
Why did you get that award? Because you’re a girl.
Why were you chosen to participate in that class? Because you’re a girl.
Like so many women before me, I have shaken off the comment. I’ve gotten angry. I’ve gotten sad. I’ve doubted myself and my abilities. I’ve ignored it entirely, I’ve challenged it, I’ve recruited support from men and women I respect. But every time it stays there in the back of my mind, screaming for attention after every failure or setback.
So today is the day I’ve decided to change that. I did, in fact, get the job because I’m a girl.
A girl who was called bossy growing up.
A girl who wasn’t afraid to play with the boys.
A girl who didn’t hesitate to raise her hand if she knew the answer.
A girl who stood up for other kids.
A girl who was always the first one to volleyball practice and the last to leave.
A girl who was told she was too assertive and aggressive to advance in her career.
A girl who went to MIT anyway.
A girl who asked her company to do more on diversity and inclusion and won’t stop pushing until it’s truly remarkable.
A girl who has made big mistakes, both personal and professional.
A girl who swings for the fences even when no one is watching.
A girl who puts in hours when other people are asleep
A girl who tells young girls how smart and strong they are.
A girl who hates to lose.
And a girl who won’t stand silently while people still use “because you’re a girl” as any limitation for girls who want to grow, challenge the status quo, and be something, anything, greater than society tells them they could or should.
So yeah. I guess you could say I got my job because I’m a girl, but not for any of the reasons you might think.