Some early reflections on the journey

I am coming up on the one year anniversary of doing the Herstory of Hollywood podcast, and I am working on expressing what I have learned throughout this process.  It has already been such a journey and my thoughts are continually evolving around the topic of women in business, and in entertainment, and gender equality and inclusion in general. More to come on that soon...

In the meantime, I spoke with Ron Dawson of Radio Film School for his and Yolanda Cochran's series, Breaking the Glass, early on in this process.  I had a lot to say at the time, and this was early days.  I fear I'm only getting more lippy as time goes on.  See what I did there?  I self deprecated and apologized for my opinionated self - even in the midst of self promoting. There, I did it again.  See?  This stuff is deep.

Nevertheless, I persist, and I stand by the things I said here.  It was fun being on the other side of the interview, and what Yolanda put together in this episode is important. My favorite part is something Yolanda said.  Stop with the namby pamby programs. Ryan Murphy showed it can just be done.  No hand wringing necessary.

Here, have a listen:



I recently started asking women if they feel like an imposter, because so many have indicated they do when the recorder is off.  They say, “I can’t believe you wanted to interview me.” Or “Well, I’m certainly not going to be inspiring like so and so.”  And yet, I did, and yet, they are.

“The Imposter Syndrome is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.” Wikipedia

So far, I am finding this to be at least somewhat true.  Not 100%, of course, but enough that it feels like a pattern to some extent.  I am interviewing one objectively amazing woman after another, and many of them are not only reluctant to own their own success, but they are surprised I even asked to interview them.

They often think the other women on the show are incredible, and are certain they do not belong in the same club.  However, to the next woman in line, they themselves are incredible. The hazard of interviewing amazing women is that subsequent amazing women may be intimidated.

Perhaps women are easily intimidated by other women.  Heck, I am intimidated by these women. They appear to completely have their act together. And they do. So smart, so thoughtful, so accomplished. But, what appears to be ease is sometimes actually a well-honed impeccability. There is data and anecdotal evidence that women have to be better, more competent, impeccable, to get ahead and to achieve success.  And these women have done very well.  Put another way, none of them have half-assed it to get where they are. They know it's hard, and yet on others, it looks easy.

What breaks down the perceptions immediately is intimate conversation.  Revealing themselves.  Finding common ground. Telling their stories.

Telling your story is powerful.  Powerful for the listener, and maybe even more importantly, for the storyteller. They sometimes feel naked afterward. Raw. Exposed. But, hopefully, they also feel seen. I am aware of the gift I have been given. Of the honor. I try to handle it with care.  Close the gaps before I leave.  Help them not go away feeling as vulnerable as they have become in the process.

There is a need to tell our stories, to be heard, to be recognized, to connect. To know you belong.  At the table.  In the room.  At the top. There are no imposters here.


20 Examples of Gender Bias in this Election

Although I am devastated with the election results, I am laughing a little bit at myself today.  I was so buoyant and hopeful of late about the state of women in the world, I was a little worried I had missed the curve with this podcast.  Like I was jumping in and telling women’s stories just as we were crossing over into a post gender discrimination world. Oh, how naïve I was yesterday.

I know it is not as simple as gender bias that elected Trump.  This election is layered and nuanced and there are several issues at play, that may or may not even be related to each other.  But, I do believe gender bias was in the mix.

Just on the face of it, several common experiences were on display.  Pretend these were two applicants for an entirely different job.

1.     A man with one or two (and I’m being generous) of the 10 requirements for the job, confidently put himself forward as if he was completely qualified, despite never working in a related field.

2.    A woman made sure she had all the qualifications and then some, in fact became the most qualified person to ever seek the job, before throwing her hat in the ring.

3.    They were treated as equally viable candidates.

4.    When interviewing for the job, the woman was constantly interrupted, condescended to, and mansplained by a man who could not hold a candle to her knowledge of the issues. And yet, she had to take him seriously as her competition for the job.

5.    She laid out detailed policy plans of how she would perform the job. He shouted that everything was a disaster and he was going to make it great. And we all pretended that was an exchange of equally substantive but different ideas.

6.    She had to worry about what she wore, her tone of voice, her makeup, hair, shoes, and her resting bitch face.

7.    He didn’t.

8.    She was penalized for her ambition.

9.    He wasn’t.

10.   Her temperament was questioned because she once had periods.

11.    His erratic temperament was on public display.

12.   His bombastic arrogance was mistaken for leadership/management skills.

13.   Her leadership/management skills were not enough, and in fact, were suspicious.

14.   She was described as being untrustworthy, a liar, while being repeatedly proven otherwise.

15.   He was perceived as telling it like it is, while being constantly proven a liar.

16.   She was penalized for staying with her husband, and blamed for his infidelities.

17.   His infidelities and multiple marriages were not relevant.

18.   Her background check revealed 30 years of investigations resulting in no criminal charges. She was labeled a criminal.

19.   His background check revealed hundreds of lawsuits, several bankruptcies, missing tax returns, questionable financial dealings, two pending criminal trial dates in the next two months, one of them for raping a 12-year-old girl.  His background check passed.

20.  She was gas-lighted.  He gas-lighted.

He got the job.

She had to be graceful about it, and will probably have to train him, while he expects her to get his coffee.

We still have work to do.  I will still do my little part here. 

I will soon launch a podcast adding the stories of women in tech. If you know some, send them my way.

From Pantsuit Nation,