I’m still speaking

Women In TechLeave a Comment on I’m still speaking

I’m still speaking

A theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is “choose to challenge”. They want to encourage people to challenge biases where they see them, to call it out. In my career, I haven’t experienced very many instances where someone called out sexism or bias. Usually I was doing the calling out, and others sat silently and let it happen.

I worked with a guy who was infamous for his long, rambling questions, and his explanations which were complex, went on too long, and somehow left you more confused than when you started. He was also infamous, at least among the few female employees, for constantly interrupting and speaking over people.

Once I was in a meeting, while acting as the product owner, and someone asked me a question. The question specifically related to product, there was no reason for anyone else to answer.

As usual, I got about two words into my sentence, and Mr. Interrupter decided it was his time to shine. This time, however, I had had enough. I interrupted him back, stopping my explanation to tell him that I was speaking, and that it was a product question directed to me, and that if he wanted to add something he should at least have the decency to let me finish speaking first.

No one in the meeting said a word.

I finished my answer to my other colleague. Part way through, Mr. Interrupter just got up and left the room without a word.

I wasn’t rude, I wasn’t angry, I just stood up for myself. I chose to challenge his constant interruptions of me, and I did so without any backup from any of the other men in the room. And what still stings to this day is that afterwards, I felt not empowered, but sorry.

Because no one backed me up, I worried for hours that I had done something wrong, and every bit of social conditioning in me told me I should apologise to this interrupting guy. I challenged, and in the end I felt bad and alone.

I didn’t apologise. I wasn’t wrong. He shouldn’t have kept interrupting me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top