A Time You Were the Only Woman in the Room

We held our final reading of 2018 last week, supporting Equal Pay Today. Raluca Albu, Joi Chaney, Camille Drummond, Jolenta Greenberg and Lenora Lapidus all read about a time they were the only women in the room. Our readers shared stories that ranged from poetic to practical, funny to heartwarming.

Freya Project Readers Raluca Albu, Camille Drummond, Joi Chaney, Jolenta Greenberg, and Lenora Lapidus

Freya Project Readers Raluca Albu, Camille Drummond, Joi Chaney, Jolenta Greenberg, and Lenora Lapidus

The Equal Pay Today! Campaign, a project of the Tides Center, works to eradicate the long-standing gender wage gap impacting the economic security of women and families through an innovative collaboration of national, regional, and state-based women's legal advocacy and worker justice groups. 

Joi Chaney, Executive Director of Equal Pay Today, shared with us some practical steps for overcoming income inequality:

  1. Passing state and federal legislative agendas that promote women’s and family economic security, including strengthening equal pay, equal employment, and anti-harassment protections, providing paid leave, raising the minimum wage and protecting the right to organize;

  2. Pushing employers to take steps to close the gender wage gap, including conducting pay and promotion audits, increasing pay transparency, limiting the use of prior salary, ensuring safe workplaces, including eliminating harassment of any kind, and investing in meaningful diversity and inclusion efforts; and

  3. Ensuring that each of us is advocating for ourselves at work.

Talk about pay. Only if permissible at work, but also in your family and friendship circle because you will learn from the exercise and because it will normalize and take the stigma out of talking about money and asking for a raise.
— Joi Chaney, Executive Director, Equal Pay Today
Joi Chaney

Joi Chaney

For some humor and catharsis, we’ll also share a different kind of list from Jolenta Greenberg. Jolenta hopes that “there will come a day when we’ll pick up Cosmo and instead of seeing a list of tips on how to fit in with the guys while maintaining the illusion that you’re a virgin who never poops and needs everything explained to her, maybe there will be a list of pointers by someone who never played well with boys, like me.”

Jolenta Greenberg

Jolenta Greenberg

How to make men feel threatened when you’re the only woman around for miles:

  • Show up to work educated

  • Show up to work educated and have ideas

  • Show up to work educated an have ideas that you speak out loud

  • When you have an idea don’t preface it with the phrase “this might be dumb”

  • Or “I kinda feel like...”

  • Or “I’m going out on a limb here...”

  • Just say the idea with the gall to believe in said idea

  • Show up to work and be considered attractive while also having good ideas

  • Show up to work and be considered unattractive while also having good ideas

  • Have ideas

  • Have ideas and tell the male coworkers who steal them from you, “that was my idea”

  • Interrupt a man explaining a basic concept to you in a meeting by saying “I don’t need you to explain how this works”

  • Interrupt a man in a meeting, period

  • Acknowledge when a sexual comment makes you feel uncomfortable instead of laughing it off

  • Tell the guy you’re dating you were fucking someone else up until the day you two started dating

  • Tell the guy your fucking, you’re dating someone now

  • Tell your married boss no when he asks for sex

  • Explain to your married boss that you being nice to him was part of your job not you coming on to him

  • Tell the radio host you’re doing a segment with you want to retake what you just said because he interrupted you

  • Tell him you want to retake again because he interrupted again

  • Tell him you want a retake in front of his speechless male coworkers

  • Point out to his speechless male coworkers that their speechlessness doesn’t help the situation

  • Explain to a room full of executives you know your worth

  • Turn down offers made in the room full of executives because you know your worth

  • Be happy you turned down the offer from said executives instead desperately seeking their approval

  • Explain that knowing your worth isn’t the same thing as a hostile takeover

  • Ask for as much money as the guy who does the same job as you gets

  • Point out the fact that the guy who gets more than you does less work and is in fact male and how suspicious this looks

  • Be a pre-teen in a woman’s body

  • Be a woman in a woman’s body

  • Be in a woman’s body

  • Tell the truth about who has sexually harassed you

  • Tell the truth about who has sexually assaulted you

  • Keep telling the truth about who has assaulted and harassed you when they say you misunderstood their intention

  • Keep telling the truth about who has assaulted and harassed you when they say you’re lying

  • Keep telling the truth about who has assaulted and harassed you when they say they’re the real victim

  • Keep telling the truth, period

Raluca Albu

Raluca Albu

Event Attendees

Event Attendees

Lenora Lapidus

Lenora Lapidus

Camille Drummond

Camille Drummond

Event Attendees

Event Attendees

Freya Project event photos by Keira Chang.