Archive of ‘Women’ category

“We’re not faking it” — A Modern Woman Mantra

Stop worrying about what others are thinking of you, because they’re not. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves.

Lately, I’ve become fatigued by the same cliché narratives everywhere about women in the modern world. Especially as I’ve just finished working on an engineering project with a mixed gender team and I know we never once stopped to second-guess ourselves because of gender. We were just doing our thing. Another goal achieved in our mission to reduce wasteful spending in the medical industry. We worked on a team with smart people of both genders, who had great values. This was how it should be. (By the way, come work with me!)

Yet I still see stories expanding beyond the original TEDTalk on the effect of body language, ruminating over how women should be “faking it until we’re making it” and listing all the different reasons why we should stop saying apologizing for ourselves. These articles, while honest, are so prevalent that they make it sound as if modern women everywhere are just suffering from a continuous lack of confidence while operating in a constant state of overcompensation. But I know it’s not true because these issues are not just for women. They are present for everyone at different points of our lives, especially when we’re trying to grow.

Yes, these courageous and honest voices played a big part in helping us let our guards down in order to trust one another. And I know the intent of these stories is to encourage people — namely women — to trust themselves. But we are not in a police state, we have the chance for higher education and we have most of our basic rights. We’ve done a fantastic job shedding many inequalities to light, and describing this uneven playing field. And I’m tiring of some of the emerging dialogue that seem to be using this chip in our shoulder as a crutch for a lack of confidence. When are we going to stop giving ourselves excuses for acting insecure? When are we going to start saying, “Oh yeah? Just look at me now!”? Why are we looking for inspiration from a narrative that relies on pointing out what we’re doing wrong? I really think we need to highlight some of the things we’ve always done right and stop apologizing for saying sorry.

For example, there are more women in male-dominated fields such as STEM than ever was in the past! Let’s keep going! And what about having more men in female-dominated fields? What’s stopping them there eh? Just as the men in the field are getting used to women, the women are getting used to men. The rules are changing, and if they’re not… let’s start trying new ones.

First let’s start to believe that we’re not just faking it.
Because we are not phonies. We are real and we ARE making it.
And we’re always going to look foolish trying to do better than we were before.
It’s just like learning how to bike.
It’s hard to step outside of your comfort zone.
So don’t let looking foolish hold you back! Stop worrying what others think about you, because they’re not. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves. Stop making excuses for yourself, because you know better. Deep down you’re just exhausted and afraid, but you know you need to do what you gotta do. And stop the humble brag. It’s up to you to get off your bum and just do what you want to do.
Remember:
There will always be more than 30 under 30.
There will always be more than 40 under 40.
For men and women both.
And the ones giving the prizes are just as great as the ones receiving them.

And I agree that no one should feel the need to apologize for ourselves unnecessarily, especially when he or she has done nothing wrong. But it’s quite okay to say “Sorry” if one really means it! Also, why aren’t we asking people to say and sincerely mean “Sorry” MORE of the time? Great courage and integrity is involved in issuing a sincere apology – you have to be able to put down your pride for a moment in order to demonstrate your empathy, admit fault and express your willingness to improve. And for the receiver of an apology, he or she has the responsibility to exhibit the wisdom and maturity needed to avoid taking advantage of the apology to achieve greater status or power at the cost of trust. A successful exchange from both parties is what creates trust and therefore progress. And we’re so bad at it. We let our insecurities take control most of the time.

So we end up playing this stupid game with each other, acting all grand because we’re faking it so hard. Apply that to people, families, countries across history…and you’ll see we still haven’t changed much.

So tell me, ladies and gentlemen, what do we do now? How can we start redefining the rules of trust? What is our endgame? What do we want to do?

Me? I want to be free to be myself.
And with this poem, I want you to know that I have been doing exactly that.
Recite it with me!

Modern Woman Mantra

I do what I want, I do what I want.
I think what I want. I want what I want.

I dance if I want, I code if I want.
I smile if I want, I cry if I want.
I agree if I want, I refuse if I want.
And I’ll wear whoever, whatever, however I want.

I say what, when and how that I want.
Softly if I want, harshly if I want.
I repeat if I want, I repeat if I want.
I try again if I want, I change if I want.

And you know what? I apologize if I want.
For whatever I want, whenever I want.
I vote if I want, or I run if I want.
I work if I want, I stay home if I want.
I ask, answer or keep quiet if I want.

So go ahead and tell me what I want.
Judge me if you want, love me if you want.
Because I do what I want, I do what I want.

Signed,
A lady or girl or woman if I want.

– by Yin Mei

P.S. My intent of this blog is simply to add another voice. I believe that every story is important, and every voice has a role.

Just because something doesn’t seem to be making a difference for you, doesn’t mean it’s not making a difference for someone else.

“Wedding Dresses” = the new “Cap and Gown”?

Here’s my response to this July 1st article on the Wall Street Journal:

In China, Women Graduates Spurn Cap and Gown for Wedding Dresses
White Tulle Gowns Are the Fashion in Photo Shoots to Commemorate Degrees; ‘Makes Things Feel More Meaningful’

Really? Wedding dresses to celebrate graduation? That’s absurd!
More “meaningful”? What kind of meaning do wedding dresses offer?

This is such a silly and awkward misinterpretations of western social archetypes…to what avail? Who knows what the “wedding dress” represents to these women? My guess is probably somewhere along the lines of “the height of female beauty”? I bet they wouldn’t necessarily think it would necessarily be as good of an idea to dunn the traditional Chinese wedding outfit instead! I also have a feeling these women think they’re being unique and different by not wearing the traditional graduation garb (kind of like how women in the US back in the day started smoking cigarettes as a symbol of “women’s liberation”) but not quite succeeding in their choice of symbolism in their unfortunate attempt. The irony! This display of ignorance isn’t just a silly, innocent social joke: it’s a concerning sign indicating some short circuit in this education system to which they belong…how can these women really be college graduates? What does this MEAN? 

But I also can’t believe this was on the Wall Street Journal. Is this actually newsworthy? Thanks to the selectivity of our media and the dramatization of limited information, we are forced to interpret and pay attention to a small portion of what’s happening as a whole…ourselves ignorantly interpreting that these are mistakes that significantly indicate the meaning of the trends and behavior of the total Chinese population. 

Don’t Ban Bossy, Own It!

I am so glad everyone has been talking about the “Ban Bossy” movement. I think it’s great that this “Ban Bossy” movement has sparked so much conversation and awareness about women and leadership – which I think is really the ultimate reward.

However, I do believe that the best leaders are those who can lead group decisions in a collaborative manner, understand and maneuver the subtle relationships of power and sensitivities within a group to actively encourage equality and open sharing. Some of the best leaders in history, and also among my peers – both men and women – are anything but bossy or domineering. They listen. They assert. And they always get better with time.

And sure, I’ve been called bossy before (without the word affecting any hindrance to my self-esteem), but I eventually grew out of it as I learned to lead teams more harmoniously. But if someone weak calls you bossy because you had to step up for the right decisions…don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself.
We’ll be right there with you.

Words.

They are a dime a dozen. They can hurt. They are powerful.
But don’t ban them. Redefine them. Even better, redefine yourself in the process.
In the end though, it’s always good to recognize the way we use them.

Thanks for starting the conversation, Sheryl!

P.S. Remember that brilliant children’s novel, Frindle?

Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In in China

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In in Beijing

 

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In in Beijing

Recently, Sheryl Sandberg visited Beijing, China to launch her book “Lean In” in Chinese. Before her visit however, I witnessed first-hand the group of young women (and a few young men too) who took charge of her movement to launch the first Lean In Circle in China.

From intense WeChat group discussions on planning a website, a survey and a successful launch event… the group now actively shares interesting links via Google Plus. The ladies seriously tackle the issues surrounding the internal and external hurdles young women face in all aspects of their career and life.

In August, the group started coordinating with Sheryl Sandberg who responded to an email they wrote and was invited to one of her two events in Beijing during her short stop. In September, they were able to meet her in person!

I can’t wait to see what happens next. Check it out:

Featured on New York Times, Sept 18, 2013 :
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/world/asia/for-china-a-new-kind-of-feminism.html?_r=0

Featured on Business Week, Sept 20, 2013:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-20/sheryl-sandberg-inspires-beijing-women-to-lean-in

(more…)

Ladies’ Luncheon with Joy Chen at Conrad Hotel: The Luxury of Being Yourself

Luncheon with Joy Chen
Luncheon with Joy Chen

I was ever so surprised when I received a private invitation from Ms. Elizabeth Haenle to attend a luncheon on April 19, 2013 at the Conrad Hotel with Joy Chen.
Joy Chen is an internationally acclaimed women’s advocate and writer.  A Chinese-American former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, she now is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal (China) and several leading Chinese fashion and lifestyle media. Her smash China best-seller Do Not Marry Before Age 30 debunks conventional wisdom that single women are “leftover” by their late 20s, and instead inspires them to realize their dreams. Joy maintains an active presence across China’s print, broadcast and digital media with a goal of helping Chinese women be freer and happier.
Among those who attended were:

Jessica Rudd, author of two novels, frequent magazine contributer and daughter of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Kelli Cha, Chinese American author, rock star and radio personality

Barbara Demick, Beijing bureau chief, LA Times
Yang Yang, CRI English former host and now producer for CRI English.
And of course our hosts at the Conrad Hilton, including Ms. Yan Pang.
Of course, there was me – a young PR professional highly active with several communities in Beijing, China: Alumni Clubs of Beijing and the team that puts together BarCamp Beijing and TEDxBeijing events for the tech & design/innovation sector.
Although at first quite intimidated, I realized that Elizabeth invited me for a reason. I did belong to this table.
Age and experience aside, we were all women actively leading at the forefront of our respective careers.
(This fear of sitting at the table is recognized as a common barrier for women to overcome in order to better “lean in” to conversations, addressed in Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book/movement: Lean In)

–Women & Marriage —

We discussed the topic of Joy’s book Do Not Marry Before Age 30, and our different perspectives as the chef spoiled us through the kitchen window.

Being young and single, I never gave too much thought about the topic of marriage. As I look to my peers, I realize they all exhibit quite a range of attitudes towards marriage. I have high school classmates who married right after graduation. On the other hand, I have friends who are in their 40s and 50s still enjoying their single life. I also have a few friends whose parents did not even marry until they were 40. Joy Chen married when she was 38, and has two wonderful children.
Today all kinds of questions are raised as we challenge the traditional timeline.
Some wonder what the relationship is between marriage and having children? Can a woman develop her career and pursue marriage at the same time? What are the different factors working against her? How many of these factors can a woman control, by herself?
Joy’s book shares her personal experience in her search for love and acts as a source of reassurance for the “leftover” women in China; Her book speaks deeply to women who feel anxious to find almost ANYONE to appease their family, society’s expectations and their own sense of self worth.
Of course, one meal did not answer all of these questions but we definitely started a conversation about just how women can achieve the Conrad Hotel’s motto:
“the luxury of being yourself”