Change the status quo— a call to all working women

It’s 8pm. The phone call I am on does not seem to end, and after I get off this call, I have to fix that bug that will prevent today’s release from going into production. This is the year 2003 and this is yet another night that I spent at work. I do what I have been accustomed to doing one to many times. I pick the phone — call home, make arrangements for dinner for my family, hang up and get back to work. I finish work at 1 am, the release is ticked and tied. I head home and get straight to bed. The alarm rings. It’s 4am, time to get up and start packing those lunch boxes.

Sounds all too familiar… If it does, you are not alone. It’s life for many of us girls who code. And while we think it will change and get better — it often does not. It is reality. So when we barely have time to sleep and eat, how on earth are we supposed to get that coveted job or climb the ladder of our success like we all aspired to do when we started this career. How do we change the status quo?

It’s not easy, but it is possible. All it needs is a mindset shift. All it needs, is us shutting off what we are accustomed to do. Here are five things that I have been practicing.

#1 Budget your “yeses”

We love to say it. “Yes” I will take the kids to the park today. “Yes” I will bake cookies for the bake sale. “Yes” I can do the laundry while I am cooking dinner. But we are also good at managing finances and budgeting and scheduling. So here is a proposal, budget your “yeses”. Tell yourself, you are only going to dish out 10 of those in a day. Be thrifty, choose wisely. The less things you say “yes” to, the more you will get done.

#2 Be generous with your “no”

It’s okay to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s okay to say “no”. Its okay to take care of you first before everyone else. Be comfortable with “no”. Practice it, say it every day. It will give you the time you need to do the things you really want to say “yes” to.

#3 Strike “sorry” off your vocabulary

We women do apologize a lot more. A 2010 study published in Psychological Science studied why women apologized more. We tend to be more empathetic, more in tune with others feelings and therefore more likely to say sorry even if the situation did not demand it. Catch yourself when you find yourself apologizing. Ask yourself, would your male coworker apologize for the same thing. Be empathetic, be kind but don’t apologize unless you really do think you did something wrong!

#4 Take the space in the room

Picture this. You are in a room with senior leaders from your company. This is the first time you have been invited to a meeting with so many senior folks. One of the leaders is late. The leader walks into the room and there are no more chairs left. What do you do? Get up, offer to get a chair, look around and see if there is space anywhere. Rewind. Correct yourself. Sit back down. You were invited in. You are part of the room. Take the space. Do this enough times and change your behavior and your confidence.

#5 Live in your skin

You are not too short, too tall, too skinny, too chubby, too old, too young, too anything. You are you. Live in your skin. Embrace it and live in it. You do you! You will never be enough for you and you will always be better than you. It is but natural for women to always try to be better than they were yesterday. That is why they are so fantastic at nurturing their families, their loved ones and all who they care about. Don’t worry about being someone else. Be you! Your time here is too short to be someone else!

Would love to hear what other techniques others have. Drop me a comment below!

Until next time — I will leave you with my favorite lines “Real girls are never perfect. And perfect girls are never real.”

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NM

Woman. Mother. Daughter. Wife. Technologist. Human being. I am kind and I care.