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You Deserve To Be There – Lessons From A Woman Executive

Written by: Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

I started my first executive job when I was twenty-six years old. My daughter was 3 and my son had just been born. I didn’t tell anyone about them during the interview process. Shortly after starting the job, the President of the company shared his surprise at learning I was a young mother. His surprise was not flattering. He was confused as to why I would want to work when I had two babies at home. Then he was concerned about my level of commitment.

Woman in black dress and a laptop on table, inside a meeting room

I assured him that I was a dedicated executive and he wouldn’t have to worry. I then proceeded to kickass at the job for the next two years.


My story is not unique. This is just one example of ways I was shamed for my ambition.


When I wanted to progress my career, I was shamed at work for wanting more. I was often overlooked as a viable candidate for the senior roles because I was a woman and a mom. There were no other people who looked like me at that table. There were no other people who solved problems like me at that table either.


When I worked long hours I was shamed by the other moms who thought I wasn’t committed to my kids. They assumed that I was a work-a-holic and a bad mom.


Even my marriage got some side-eye. My husband’s colleagues would comment “can’t your wife take care of that”, when I had an early meeting and he needed to do morning drop-off.


As I progressed in my career I felt like I had to explain myself to those who didn’t understand that I was ambitious in all my endeavors; wife, mother, executive. This is just who I am. I don’t want to defend it, but I found myself feeling the need to prove my worth in all areas.


Now firmly in mid-life (I’m 48 this year) I see things improving, but not enough.


The conversation about women’s rights is at the top of many people’s minds. Women deserve the same rights, the same choices, as men. That extends to our ability to chase our professional dreams too.


In my time in corporate I was often frustrated with the lack of progressive thinking. Instead of supporting women, I felt put in a box that was often too small for my ambition. I watched as other women retreated into the box, defeated at the realization that they weren’t going to do the big things they had dreamed of.


It seemed as if there were two ways a woman was going to handle the adversity. She was either going to fight or retreat. If she fought, she was going to find herself burned out and resentful. If she retreated, she would find herself feeling battered and less worthy.


Neither was a destiny I accepted for myself.

It’s fair that the corporate world is still a tough place for women to climb the ladder of success.

But you deserve to be there.

You are smart enough.

You are talented enough.


Instead of trying to change the corporate world from the top down (I’ll let someone else handle that) I’m on a mission to support more women in their ambitions. Let’s lift each other up.

Let’s show each other what’s possible. Let’s talk about salary and pull the covers off the inequities. Let’s share our stories so others can see it’s not just you!


Remember your worth.

You deserve to be there.


You will need to hold firm boundaries in all aspects of your life.

You will need to stop listening to people who don’t support you.

You will need to believe in yourself more than you care what others think of you.


But you deserve to be there.


I’m proud of the wife, mother and leader I have become.

Did I always know what I was doing? Hell no!

Was it easy? Not for a second.


But it was worth it.

Because I deserved to be there too.


Women continue to be paid 82% of what men are. *

Women business owners receive a fraction of venture funding. **

Less than 15% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. ***


Your ambition is not shameful, these numbers are.

You deserve to be there.


If you were doubting that for a second, let this be your sign. Go out there and do the big things that you are meant to do. Break free from that ridiculously small box. The world needs more of you!

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Nicky Espinosa is a leadership expert and executive coach specializing in supporting women executives to reach their full potential. She is a former healthcare executive, author, and professional speaker with 20+ years of senior leadership experience. She is on a mission to close the gender gap in the C-suite by empowering women to confidently level the playing field.

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