There is no rule book or bulleted list of requirements. And yet outdated perceptions of what a woman should be, how she should act, continue to weigh us down.
As a female leader in the entertainment industry, I’ve seen firsthand that it’s time to flip the script to give women more say and power in their careers. That we deserve to dive headfirst into the things we love, to follow our passions, without fear of judgment.
Here are a few ways to find strength in your career despite stereotyping.
1. Recognize the valuable role you play.
Chances are, you aren’t working in a vacuum. The people around you rely on you to perform in your career: you bring value to them that can’t be discounted by outside opinions. Look to your teammates when your confidence starts to flag. Their success likely depends on the success of the full team, on your and your coworkers’ dedication and commitment. Your path is bigger than just you: recognize the value you bring to the people around you, and lean on them when you need to.
2. Raise your voice and control what you can.
You can’t always change someone’s mind. If they’re determined to look down on the work that you do, that’s on them. Focus on what you can control: the things you contribute to the career that you love.
The best way to stay engaged with your work is to feel invested in its outcome. The more you contribute, the more invested you’ll be. Speak up to offer your creative input whenever you can. It always feels good to see something completed well, especially after your creative efforts have been applied to it. It drives you to go after the next thing.
3. Put it in writing.
There’s power in the written word. Keep a notebook on you and jot down your ideas, career goals, or praise you’ve received from leaders and teammates. It’s so meaningful to have tangible proof of your dreams and successes, and soon these pages will be full of affirmation for the career you’ve chosen.
Personally, I live by my notebook. It’s filled with a constantly running to-do list and a stream of story and shot ideas. I write down quotes to build from and every point of inspiration I come across, no matter the size. I also catalogue every single thing that I need to do in my to-do list, no matter the size. The most satisfying feeling in the world is looking at a list as long as the page and seeing every item crossed off. There’s something so final about slashing through an item that had to be done—sometimes I cross it out so hard the pen tears through the page!
It’s incredibly validating to have a visual reminder of just how much you’ve achieved; I have stacks and stacks of completed notebooks with lists that are all crossed out. When I come across them, I feel a deep sense of calm. Create that visual record for yourself, so you can always look back on what you’ve already accomplished. It’ll make everything you still want to achieve feel manageable in comparison.
4. Take an introspective approach.
I work in an industry that faces some of the strongest stereotypes about women. Those stereotypes have given me second thoughts not only about my career, but about my worth as a person. But I always come back to the reminder that ultimately, this is my life and no one else’s. This is my career and no one else’s.
If you find your confidence wavering, ask yourself why you were drawn to your career in the first place, and hold on tight to that answer. It’s the only endorsement you need to stay right where you are.
In a perfect world, society would stop judging women for their choices entirely. Women don’t need to fit within a certain mold; we only need to follow our own voices and passions. The best thing we can do is spread support and positivity, and the best place to start is within ourselves—by feeling empowered by our own choices regardless of external stereotyping.