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  • My [breasts, vagina] got in the way
  • Complicit

Heatherly Bucher

Executive Director, Conscious Culture

Describe a time when you were reminded you were a woman @ work in a negative way–any moment when you were made to feel self-conscious about being a woman.

Early in my career, I was pulled aside by a well-meaning female colleague with this advice: avoid v-necks and sheer blouses and always put on a jacket or vest before standing up for a presentation. Back then, I was overly endowed and had always been self-conscious of my size, hunching forward through school, trying to minimize myself. I took this workplace advice to heart, as it followed the narrative I had seen and experienced. I realized later that it was a part of the assumption that to fit in, be accepted, and succeed in high tech industry as a woman, the burden was on me as a woman, to be more like a man, not be seen as an object, target, other.

What are some ways you think we women, or you, have been complicit in upholding the male white patriarchy by staying silent, not supporting, or sabotaging other women?

I know there have been times in my career when I have been complicit. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up; I was afraid of repercussions; I reasoned that someone else more senior should; I didn’t prioritize the time; I simply wasn’t paying attention. I won’t excuse this and I apologize to other women whom I’ve been complicit in bringing harm to. As I’ve gained in experience and confidence, I’ve made it now a personal commitment to not be complicit and to offer whatever leverage and cover I can provide to those who are afraid or feel they don’t have the capital to speak up.

If women were in charge of the world…Or if you are willing, shared power equally–what would you change at work? What would be the new rules of work? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We need active participation from a diverse team; we must have checks and balances; we benefit from a collaborative, respectful workplace where everyone contributes. To reach this, we must have shared power and equity at every single level of business and across the value chains and business support system from VCs and investors to founders and executives to teams. If I could wave my magic wand, we’d have that diversity and equity tomorrow in every industry and government agency, staring with boards and executives, congressional and parliamentary bodies, and judicial bodies.

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