Women: Speak Up

I have something I want to say to all women.

Stop holding back when you have the answer. See, I know you. You sit in meetings and in audiences and in team situations and you have the answer.

You have the idea.

You have the suggestion to fix the issue.

And yet you stay silent.

Why? Because you know what women who speak up are labeled. Bossy. Arrogant. Pushy. Know-it-all. You will be interrupted, or your idea will be shot down. You will rock the boat. You will be seen as making waves, simply for saying your idea.

You are thinking, as you sit in silence, you better save your voice for when it REALLY counts.

So you hold back. You have answers and ideas and solutions and suggestions, and they remain inside your head, instead of out in the open for your colleagues and leaders to hear.

You are educated. You are smart. STOP apologizing for being educated and hardworking. Stop beating yourself up for being creative and intelligent and… a woman.

SO many times. So many, many times I sit in meetings and around conference tables and a question or problem comes up, and there is a woman in the room who I know has answers. She is an expert in this topic. She has experience and knowledge and creative space in her brain for this topic. And she stays silent. I stare at her, my eyes pleading with her to speak up.

SAY IT! I’m saying with smile.

RAISE YOUR HAND! I’m begging with my face.

(Perhaps this is why no one will give me eye contact during meetings? Haha!)

Men, here is a news flash: Guess what happens after the meeting? The women start texting each other solutions, answers, and suggestions they were too afraid to say out loud.

Women, here’s my message to you:

I’m not sorry you’re smart. I’m not sorry you’re creative and talented and spend hours working on solutions. I am not sorry you have the education and the ideas and the brain.

I am sorry you feel you can’t speak up. I am sorry for the stats that show that women who do speak up are labeled negatively by their peers when compared to men who speak in the very same situation and say similar things. I am sorry for the unconscious bias that we all have. I am sorry it is uncomfortable and we all hold our ideas like precious stones we can only place on the table when we are forced to.

But I’m sorry isn’t good enough.

We NEED your voice. We NEED your answers and ideas and solutions and suggestions. We need your leadership! Healthcare, policy, law, education, science, technology –  ALL industries need you.

Why? Because when women are included in leadership and decision making, companies do better. Customers are happier, finances improve, employees report better engagement scores, and we are healthier. This isn’t a Sasha opinion; this is a fact. Read the data.

And here’s another news flash:

You aren’t going to get ahead staying silent. You aren’t going to advance to positions where your ideas are more than creative, developed plans in your head.

We NEED you.

Speak up. Stop apologizing for your abilities. Stop hiding! Be bold!

I have started calling on women I know have ideas when I am in meetings. I also reaffirm what they say, and repeat it so all can hear. Since I started doing this, I have actually received phone calls and texts after meetings from women who tell me thank you for giving me a voice!

Men: If you are in a position of leadership, ask the women for their ideas. Ask them for help and suggestions and support their involvement. Trust them to lead their ideas into initiatives. Don’t discourage them from speaking.

Despite the outcome, only you control your voice.

Speak. Up.

I’m over here staring at you, ready to listen.