"You would be so surprised at how powerful we can be when we show up. So just show up."
Last week I flew to Austin for what will forever be a highlight of my career: hang out with Wendy Davis, who joined Ladies Get Paid for a fireside chat at Austin’s Hotel Ella.
You probably know Wendy best from her 11-hour Texas State Senate filibuster in 2013 to block the passage of a restrictive anti-abortion bill that would have closed 37 of the state's 42 clinics. She’s currently the founder of Deeds Not Words, an advocacy initiative that empowers
millennial women to channel their passion and energy on issues of gender equality into
The topic on everyone’s mind, of course, was how do we as women navigate our new and evolving place in society? How do we build new paradigms that enthusiastically welcome a woman charge and allow her to thrive? What can we as individuals do?
While we covered a range of issues, like women in leadership, imposter syndrome, and policies that will create more equitable workplaces for women, one theme ran through: if you feel compelled by something that you know is right, you must speak up.
Using your voice, taking up space, and becoming a leader can be scary, and often require taking leaps beyond our comfort zones. Wendy often quotes Lady Bird Johnson, saying “Become so wrapped up in something you forget to be afraid.” When I asked her how she forgets to be afraid, her answer was surprisingly simple: you’ll feel it in your gut that you must.
“You would be so surprised at how powerful we can be when we show up. So just show up.” Wendy Davis
Wendy also stressed the importance of supporting each other, and the power of joining our voices together. She thought back to the filibuster, when it was the voice of a colleague, Leticia Van De Putte, who spoke up when she was silenced, and the thousands of people who flooded the Capitol in Austin to voice their support that ultimately made all the difference. Whether it was the filibuster, or passing an equal pay bill through the State Senate, it was the help of others that ultimately got her across the line.
“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” Leticia Van De Putte.
If we all commit to speaking up, working hard, and supporting each other, she’s confident this remarkable time in our history will bring about the change we seek. Where our workplaces support us with policies that help all women thrive, like equal pay, affordable childcare and paid family leave, and our leaders are people who we see ourselves in, who understand our struggles and will be our champions. And without a doubt, some of us will be those leaders too.
Now go get paid.