Updated: Sep 2, 2019
I admit it, I’ve always kind of enjoyed being an underdog. I like to surprise people.
When I was in college, I was the only American woman in several of my math classes. When I tutored calculus, often the other tutors would approach me asking if I needed help.
It never made me mad. It made me hungry to do more than people expected.
Bias exists, there’s no doubt. And it’s a big issue.
Many exceptional people have to work harder and do more than others to prove they deserve a seat at the table simply because of the hand they’ve been dealt – their gender, or the color of their skin. It’s no laughing matter.
But I would suggest that where there are challenges, there are also opportunities.
I truly believe there is no better time than now to be a female entrepreneur. People are ready. Many investors are starting to focus on closing the gender gap. Several of the world’s leading business and financial institutions have published studies in the past several years highlighting the economic benefit of greater gender equality.
Is it a level playing field? Heck no. Male entrepreneurs still raise more venture capital than their female counterparts, due in large part to the questions they are asked and the expectations of the investors.
And though we may be unable to change our gender or skin color, we can find ways to challenge the bias.
Shake up the norm, outwit the game, and reshape the playing field.
Biases are simply a fact of life. About a year ago I was asked to speak at my boss’s boss’s town hall.
When I arrived at the office, I found the same corporate AV guys I had worked with on several occasions. I asked about the setup, and if there was anything I needed to know before speaking.
One of the guys looked at me and said, “You’re not speaking today.”
I informed him that I was.
Again, he told me I wasn’t on the agenda.
Now, I wasn’t mad, I was simply confused. I explained that I was part of the Round Robin portion of the meeting.
He then looked at me and said, “No, ‘So and So’ said that it was another guy and Aaron doing that portion.”
I looked at him and said, “I am Erin, you know that.” To which he replied, “Oh. I was assuming a male Aaron.”
I could have gotten very angry. After all, this was clearly bias.
But instead it was jet fuel for my engine. It motivated me to use my performance to prove that despite being a woman, I was the one meant to do that town hall. I subconsciously decided to prove that guy, and any others who shared his ridiculous bias, wrong.
It’s simply a different way to use the vibrational frequency of bias. We do have a choice. Our reaction and intention are our choice.
Try finding small ways to reverse the energy of the bias you may be facing. Get yourself a small underdog cape - metaphorical or real, your choice. See what things you can do to surprise, delight and shock the bias source. They bury you in bias? Turn that shit into fertilizer.
You’re too brilliant not to.