It’s really awkward when you carry more certifications and degrees than everyone in your office and yet you are told you are not “expert enough” at every single turn. What does that even mean? Let’s talk about what happened and why it matters.
This post isn’t meant to brag about achievements at all. Instead, it’s going to explore what my expertise is, what everyone in my office’s expertise is and then discuss why being rejected so much is a problem.
Here’s what we know about Ashley aka me.
- I have a BA in English
- Did a Post-Bac in Poli-Sci
- Have an MA in Multimedia Journalism
- MA in Public Relations
- Worked with clients like The American Lung Association, as the lead at the age of 22
- Won international digital marketing awards at 23
- Became the editor for the parts of the paper that paid the bills for all at the age of 24
- Was a lobbyist at 25 and after one meeting with a congressional member, he supported my bill
- Ran a marketing department at 26
- Added a few certifications to my resume
That about sums up the highlights of my career.
For being only 27, I feel like I’ve had more experience than a lot of my friends and it is reflected in the way my career progressed.
Now here’s what we know about the fellas in my office.
Everyone has either a BA or no degree at all. They’ve all mostly worked in sales in some capacity (I know because I had to create their LinkedIn profiles for them so I didn’t assume any of this).
That about sums them up.
Now there’s nothing wrong with not going to college. My husband doesn’t have a degree and I’m super cool with it. He went the Army route and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But my husband would never tell me he knows more about marketing than I do because that’s not his area of expertise just as I would never try to tell him I’m well-versed in Army procedure.
So what is happening that makes this something to discuss? Glad you asked.
I feel like we can all agree that I’m fairly well versed in my field. There’s still a ton to learn as the algorithms are always changing and new technology emerges. I’m not disagreeing with this fact at all.
The problem lies in the all-male office. The problem lies in the fact that every single day one of the men in my office tells me that I’m not “expert enough.” I am continuously ignored during meetings. Men who have never worked in marketing are offering marketing advice in the middle of company-wide meetings. Not making suggestions to me but to the CEO. I sit there. Ignored. Dismissed.
My achievements forever being dismissed no matter how much I fight for myself.
I have a few friends there. Friends who have been there prior to my arrival.
Men used to fill my position. It was truly a boys’ club. I’m the intruder.
What I’ve learned is that behavior did not exist with my predecessors. This is new, special just for me.
I could have invented the internet and I would not be “expert enough” because I’m a woman.
So why does this all matter?
My grandpa this past week told me to just find a new job. I’m there part-time, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The problem is that even if I go, the problem will always persist. They will still feel this way about me and women in general. They will continue on their journey dismissing women.
I’m not alone in this fight. Women for decades have had to fight harder to prove themselves. But why? Why should I as a woman have to work harder to prove I earned my office space?
The problem ladies is that if we let them get away with this behavior, it will perpetuate. Our daughters will need to face the same fight. I have to be honest, I’m not into that. I can’t imagine my potential daughter growing up in a world where she needs to work harder to earn respect from her coworkers.
So I choose to stay. I decided to stay and fight the stereotypes. I decided to stay and maybe change their preconceived notions about me and about women in general. Maybe after my time is through, the next woman won’t have it so hard. Maybe they’ll be a little better.
As much as I think it’s bologna we have to fight for respect, we need to persist so our posterity lives in a different world. We have to force the world to be better and try harder so our children don’t have to endure the same fight.
Ladies, own your expertise. Be proud of what you’ve achieved. And screw those who refuse to acknowledge it.