Nothing to Prove

5 10 2013

I love this video by Girl Geeks & the Doubleclicks. I can’t even quantify how much time I’ve spent trying to prove myself in STEM — trying to prove that I’m smart enough, creative enough, committed enough, and nerdy enough. For years, I hustled for my worth, working much harder and often achieving much more than my male colleagues. Despite my efforts, sometimes I still experienced treatment that made me feel that I was being viewed as not smart enough, not creative enough, not committed enough, and not nerdy enough.

This may sound like a sad story, but you know what? It really isn’t. For every man who refused to respect my abilities, there were easily nine men who treated me with the respect I deserved. At a certain point, I decided to ignore the dissenters and move forward with my life. The energy I was spending trying to prove myself to an unimportant 10% of the male population in STEM was energy that was being wasted. I needed that energy to continue kicking butt.

The last line of this awesome song really resonates with me. “Haters are Gonna Hate.” It’s funny, but it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman in STEM or a dog in a tutu. Haters are gonna hate. They’re going to hate just because you’re doing something that is unusual and possibly innovative. Ironically, our desire to be unusual and innovative is what draws most of us to STEM in the first place. We want to use our talents to do things that have never been done before to change the world.

I’m a huge fan of constructive criticism because I’m constantly looking for ways to grow and improve, but hate isn’t constructive — it’s just hateful. If it isn’t helpful, you have to ignore it. You’ve got nothing to prove to a bully.

– Jen

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