In 2010, Reshma Saujani challenged Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in a primary. Even though she lost, she calls it the most successful campaign ever lost. She took a risk, didn’t wait in line until it was her turn, and is now encouraging other women to do the same in Women Who Don’t Wait in Line. Here are five goals I’m setting for myself after reading her book:
1. Apply for the job I think I’m not qualified for
I remember reading in Lean In that women aren’t likely to apply for a job unless they meet all of the listed qualifications. And my first thought was that I owed my father an apology. At various points in my career when job hunting, my dad would send me job listings and if I didn’t meet every single one of the qualifications, I would tell my dad I wasn’t qualified and wouldn’t apply. He would always say a variation of “of course you can do that job! Apply!” In my current job search, I’m finally taking that advice.
2. Do a self cost-benefit analysis for my jobs
From Saujani: in one column, write what you get from your job; include salary and nonmaterial benefits like a nice title, access to interesting people, etc. In the second column, write the amount you spend on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being because you hate your job.
I’ve had “good” jobs that weren’t good for me. In weighing the cost of staying or finding a new job, I never considered all the additional costs associated with the job that made me unhappy. Not anymore.
3. Own my leadership style
It’s not male leadership or female leadership, it’s my leadership.
4. (Continue to) advocate for policies and laws to level the playing field
Affordable child care. Work-life balance. Closing the STEM gap. Pay equity. Supporting women entrepreneurs and women immigrants. Saujani’s goals echo Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Opportunity Plan: paid family and medical leave, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, quality affordable childcare, and universal pre-K.
These are all policies I do and will continue to support–whether by organizing and advocating, working to elect candidates who share my values, and petitioning elected officials. And by being the change I want to see. First step to closing the STEM gap? Increasing my own skills.
5. Learn to code
I started by signing up at codeacademy.com and am in the process of building a website (the first skill). I remember the basics of HTML that I first learned to blog at livejournal for a college class!
Check out Saujani’s book. It’s a quick read and will likely inspire you to set some new goals for yourself.