Advice, Women in Tech

Size Doesn’t Matter. For Women in Tech.

As a petite female in a male dominated industry, I’m no stranger to comments regarding the way I look, by male colleagues. It’s usually about how small I am, how skinny I am or how young I look. Or how much I can eat. Go figure! I usually take those comments as compliments but if I really think about it, they are not compliments. They are just remarks. Do I get offended? Depending on the context and situation. If I was told that I am tiny and short and I should sit at the front for group photos, of course I am not going to be offended. On the other hand, if I was told that I am tiny and short and therefore, I shouldn’t be an emcee, well, the person who said it is going to regret it. And sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why it seems ok to tell a skinny person skinny but not a fat person fat. Or why it is ok to say someone looks young for their age but not the other way around?  

[Tweet “Why it seems ok to tell a skinny person skinny but not a fat person fat.”]

A few weeks ago, I found out that my daughter’s friends have been saying to her that she’s not tall like them. They also said she isn’t four yet and they are. Sure they are her friends and they say the truth but I feel a bit of pain in my heart. When she goes to primary school, will she be teased by her peers because she is not as tall or as old as them? Will it make her cry? Will she hate going to school then? As a mother, I over-think and worry.

And then I realise that I am in a similar situation when I’m told I’m tiny, skinny and what’s not. So how do I respond in those situations? I usually respond by coming up with something witty, saying thanks or smiling politely. Unless I am really offended and feel that I am being discriminated. Then I will be very quiet with a straight face but will be thinking of ways to let the person know that what he said is not ok. But these types of responses are not appropriate for 4 years olds. 

Therefore, I have been thinking about how to teach my daughter to respond to such comments. I have to think of an appropriate response for preschoolers. When I first heard of my daughter’s friends teasing her for being slightly younger than them, I was angry. I said in my head, so what, she is not four yet, it’s none of your business. It is amazing how our thinking changes when we are angry, or when we are being protective of our children. 

Anyway, after thinking long and hard for a few days, I have come to the conclusion that I want my daughter to be confident about herself no matter what other people say. No one should bring her down, when she is happy with herself. So rather than teaching my daughter what to say to her friends the next time they tease her, I told her that I think she is amazing and a clever 4 years old. And that’s all it matters.

[Tweet “I want my daughter to be confident about herself no matter what other people say.”]

How about you, I hear you ask. Well, as for me, I believe in leading by example so I will be working on my confidence and self-worth. No more wondering or getting upset when someone makes a comment on my appearance. 

May we all be confident and happy with ourselves.