It is frequently brought to my attention that people find me intimidating. Intimidating; for my interests, life choices, and career path. Intimidating because I like to live life on my terms. Intimidating because I don’t fit into whatever box they want to put me in and intimating because I don’t fit into the box, they’ve put themselves in.
I often find myself asking those who tell me I’m intimidating, what in your opinion makes me that way? I usually get a passive incoherent answer, because they weren’t ready for me to challenge them to explain. How intimidating, right? The best part is no matter their answer, it does not mean anything to me, because even though that is what they think, for me, it does not define who I am.
I like to think that their feeling of intimidation is my strength, intelligence, experiences, and outlook. I think women in tech are called intimidating because of the way we can look differently at situations, how we react, communicate, and problem solve. It’s different compared to what they are used to.
I’m sure many of you have also been told your intimidating for many of the same reasons and for that I have to say glad you’re here with me! And keep being you! For you are one of the reasons I can be intimidating and a reason those who follow in our footsteps may not automatically be looked at that way in the future.
We cannot let people like this get us down or allow them to affect us negatively. Instead of being upset at that person’s opinion I think to myself that “I must be doing something right.” Maybe if they are uncomfortable enough, they will wonder why and that might be the trigger to get them to change or to at least think about it. We may never change some people’s outlook, and some may always be intimidated by women in the industry, but for me our perceived intimidation is strength. Strength to be with the women leading the way, taking the path that women before us laid so we could have the opportunities we have as well as the strength to continue creating a larger the path for others to follow.
I am reminded every show how infrequent women are on a show site in a technical role, but I also get excited as I encounter more women in tech each day. We are making progress even though it may not feel like it when we face people who seem to work against us. Along with meeting more women in tech, I continually encounter men who are empowering women within the industry as well. We are making an impact, and things are changing for the better.
As 2019 begins I hope all of us intimidating women can keep paving a path for the future, leading in our industry and creating change for everyone. I look forward to meeting and working with many more intimating women this year and to watch us all grow and excel.
Heather Holm: Based in Saint Paul, MN; Heather has held many positions in the sound, production, and events business. Most recently as a Production Coordinator serving the Twin Cities area. She holds a BA in Broadcasting and Digital Media Communication and a MS in Organizational Change Leadership. Before taking a position with a private production firm, Heather has over seven years of working in higher education dealing with event logistics and production technology and has also been freelancing in the field for several years.