I moved to California in 2013 for an internship at Walt Disney Imagineering. I had jobs before this one but I considered it to be my first "big girl corporate job" you know, with the water tanks and keurigs. This was my chance. I was willing to pretty much do anything to make sure I would be able to extend my internship and stay in California.
I spent almost the entire first year in fairytale land. I never really paid much attention to politics, or the glass ceiling. I changed a lot of my personality that year, I always made sure I didn't say TOO much (I couldn't not say anything lol) and took the safe route on everything. Its something about being the youngest in the room that makes you feel like you don't have authority. I talked a little bit about that here. After awhile the temporary personality change was old, I had valid things to say, and people who agreed. I started to see things, (And no not like ghost things) but I started to see the "women in the workplace" stereotypes. I thought about certain situations where "Regular Laci" would've responded a certain way but instead to save face I let things slide (Corporate Laci vs. Regular Laci). I quickly realized that by sugar coating my personality I dropped my lady balls.
People always relate balls with masculinity. The "he has the balls so he makes the rules" concept. In movies anytime a guy wimps out his homeboy says, "where's your balls?" translating to "where's your strength, where's your man hood". And its always a shock factor is referencing them, which is hilarious to me. Anytime I've said that to a woman it translates to the same concept. Girl, where are your lady balls? My mom always taught me to negotiate, and luckily I had a boss that reinforced that same concept. There were times where I would hear of women receiving promotions without negotiating, and not because they didn't deserve it but because they were frightened by the idea of negotiating and having the opportunity taken away. Every single time I hear a story like that I want to just stand on top of a table and scream, " WHERE ARE YOUR BALLS? GET YOUR MONEY!"
Towards the end of my second year I was offered an opportunity to work with a group that specializes in motion graphics. I told my boss I was nervous because motion isn't my specialty but I told the manager that, so he must not care. She said, "Laci, he offered the opportunity after you told him that isn't your specialty. Why would he offer something if he didn't think you could do it?" I know those words are so simple but it was a wake up call for me to never lose my lady balls. Nowadays if I'm given an opportunity I try not to question it. I make it my business to voice ideas, trust my abilities, and I always make sure I have a seat at the table.
There are so many things I could cover in regards of women in the workplace but the main point I want to make right now is never lose your strength. Don't think your ideas don't matter, and just because you’re the only woman in the room (or woman willing to say anything) that you can't speak or that people won't listen. There are so many meetings/brainstorms where I would have a good idea but not want to say it, only for one of my male peers to think of it moments later. I would always think to myself, "dang" why didn't I just say it. Always be a boss, make the most of your position, and please negotiate. This isn't just for the workplace but for anywhere (I've had to negotiate at auto places recently but that's another story). Never drop your lady balls and when in doubt listen to Nicki Minaj.