Posted by: elizabethjoseph13 | February 5, 2016

An Interesting Story

Hi! So it’s not my day to post but I just had an interesting thing happen to me that was related to our past couple of classes and I wanted to share it with someone so I figured who better to share it with than you all!! (Plus also, I didn’t want to forget by next class… whoops)

I just recently became an officer (secretary/treasurer) for a new organization, Society for Women Engineers, and I was having a meeting with the other two officers. I was talking to the Vice President, a fellow junior, about the classes she was taking and how she was liking them. We then started talking about how we both weren’t good at coding and how we were lucky we had made it this far. Basically, undermining ourselves and putting our successes down and disqualifying them, saying they weren’t really accomplishments. In the middle of our talking, the president, a freshman who, up to this point, had been just listening, interrupted and said, “I’m sorry to interrupt but why are you guys talking like this? Why are you putting yourselves down? You both have made it so far and made such big accomplishments. You shouldn’t be attributing your successes to luck, like, obviously you are both smart and that is how you’ve made it this far… not that you’ve just gotten lucky.”

Not going to lie, I was kind of stunned. Not from the fact that she had said that but from the fact that I literally HADN’T NOTICED!!!! Until she pointed it out, I had just been saying words. She continued, talking about how women put down their accomplishments and hopefully, with this club (of women), she (and we) can work on helping to stop the negative talk. While she was saying all of that, I couldn’t help but smile. This little baby (no offense) freshman helped me to open my eyes to how I was acting, and helped to point out part of the problem with women especially in this field.

Most of all, I think it is insanely interesting how, even after talking about it in class, I talked down about myself and my accomplishments without even realizing. I just think it goes to show how ingrained these ideas about women inferiority are into our heads so much so that even as a feminist, I didn’t realize I was helping to further this problem and it took an outsider pointing it out to make me realize the error in my ways.

Just an interesting story I thought I’d share.

Oh, and of course I recommended she take this class and she said she had already looked into it and was planning on it! 🙂


  1. Wow, sweet story! I am actually really good friends with the vice president. It is an intriguing observation.

  2. Thanks for sharing this personal experience, Liz. One of the things I love about this course is that it simply opens people’s eyes to taken-for-granted daily routines, habits, and happenings.

  3. What a great story! First off congratulations on the new position! And secondly I am so proud of this girl for having not just the mentality to notice the situation, but also the bravery to approach you guys and talk to you about it. Never count yourself short, you are all amazing 🙂

  4. This is a great representation of how easy it is to feed into the cycle, even when we know better! So often women are caught doing these types of things, and while we know that it is further reinforcing some of the problems or barriers we have discussed in class, we still struggle to catch ourselves making these mistakes. I love that your president felt confident enough to acknowledge what was going on. This is a great way for us all to hold each other accountable. It takes bravery and guts sometimes, but if we do not stand up and bring some of these concepts into the light when we see them, we won’t be able to see progress. Thanks for sharing this Liz!

    • This reminds me of some of the issues brought up in the readings about women almost discriminating against themselves; Wilson tells the story of a woman not liking her female co-worker because she was “too ambitious” and then there is the “Mean Girl” phenomenon of expressing a woman’s lack of power by ridiculing other girls around her. Most applicable to this story is Wilson’s comments about “the male arenas of math and science” where women feel inferior and don’t think they can succeed. The president is right, these girls have accomplished so much and they should continue; their bravery now could inspire others down the road. So quit with that negative talk and keep pushing forward, it’ll pay off one day!

  5. I think this is a great real life example! We do things all the time that we don’t even realize. It is a wake-up call when someone points out that we are doing something that we didn’t even realize. I am glad for you and the whole class that your clubs president stepped in the way she did. Women, if we want equality, can not just soft sell our achievements and account them to luck. I think by having the reaction you did will help you and other women in the future. I also really liked how you identified as a feminist because it is such a taboo word in today’s society. Feminists are not crazy, they just seek equality. Thanks again for sharing Liz!

  6. This is a great example of how many of the issues we have discussed in this course are so engrained in our beings that many of us did not even realize we contribute to the women and leadership issue. Ever since we have discussed women short-selling their ambition, I have caught myself multiple times doing so. I consider myself a comparatively confident and empowered woman so I was surprised to find I am guilty of this more than I think. I have also been thinking on this issue a lot and find that when women are in a group of other women we tend to pick up on these tendencies to downplay ourselves and comment on it, but in a mixed gender group I feel that women are less likely to do so.

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