1. Women who take themselves seriously are usually seen as stuck up. If not stuck up, then cold, or unnecessarily egotistical, usually for the same set of traits or mannerisms that you’d otherwise consider a “mild, professional temperament.”
2. People often ask “why” or “how” you got something, as though talent and perseverance could not possibly be the reason. Could you imagine someone asking a dude how they got their upper level promotion? You couldn’t. It would never happen. All people think is: “Wow, what an accomplished person.”
3. People assume your career is a placeholder for a family. They think it’s just something you do until you’re prime for breeding or marrying, in which case you will drop your ambitions entirely. If they couldn’t balance work and love, you certainly can’t either!
4. To sacrifice for your career is to sacrifice for yourself, and nobody likes when a woman does something for herself. It’s why we’re so uncomfortable with ambitious women in general. We can barely deal with the idea of mothers putting themselves first to be physically and emotionally healthy and whole before raising children, forget sacrificing all of that for a job.
5. There’s no wage gap, there’s an ambition gap, and closing it is radically undoing generations of psychological reinforcement. As Sheryl Sandberg said and most recently even Jennifer Lawrence agreed to, among other subconscious biases, women don’t negotiate or demand as much because they’re taught being likable is more important than literally anything else. Many of our mothers couldn’t open a credit line without a husband or father’s signature, so let us not forget that these values are more freshly embedded than we often realize.
6. People say that your career won’t love you back, but you don’t need it to. (What is with people assuming women will just go after what loves them the most?) When people pursue careers of their desire and choosing, they’re already expressing love for themselves and for their lives. A career isn’t a thing that rewards you, it’s a way you validate and reward yourself.
7. You know that balance is impossible if you want to do more than what’s average. And people tend to be very concerned if your life isn’t perfectly balanced, but many people don’t want it to be! It’s almost never not crucial to sacrifice one thing for another, especially if you care deeply about it.
8. People look down on working all the time, but rarely consider doing so because someone wants to. Speaking of balance: working a lot isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s not bad at all when you’re doing something you really love. The idea that it’s exhausting and unfair is just another extension of not understanding that people can enjoy what they do for a living (or not wanting to believe it, because that means their relationship to their jobs feels too far behind to salvage).
9. Women are incredibly powerful, and after working with (and for) some of them, you begin to see just how much so. They’re powerful for the reasons why they’re usually seen as not (less naturally driven by ego, more inclined consider the whole). It makes you wonder if it plays into why women were always at the lesser end of the gender binary – powerful people, after all, are more threatening.
10. People who say things are “hard” are almost always just trying to justify why they don’t do them better. Successful women do not complain about what’s hard. They say that things are challenging, or that they are difficult, but worth it. They do not claim anything is “hard” because they sincerely don’t look at the world that way. Everything is an opportunity, and it’s all a matter of how deeply you believe you can overcome it.
11. People prefer for women to be one thing, not many. You can be in a happy relationship with your career or another person, not both. You can have a great career or be a good mom, not both. You can be smart or you can be sexy, not both. Women are prefered to be one-dimensional beings, yet the most successful women contain the hell out of their multitudes… and they don’t apologize for doing it, either.