Hermanas… I’m here to tell you to not only sit at the table, but encourage you to always speak-up and engage your audience. Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and well-known advocate for women in the workforce,
recommends that women sit at the table, and I couldn’t agree more. However, I am here to inspire you to take the next step and engage in dialogue.
I work in a male dominated industry, all but one of my equal counterparts and managers are men. The table that I typically sit at includes male co-workers and upper management made up of more male-coworkers, and me; a petite, Latina professional, who at-a-glance is perceived as a young and dedicated note-taker; until I open my mouth that is. Capturing the attention of an all-male audience or a managerial audience can be difficult and nerve wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to be prepared, knowledgeable and confident. Don’t just speak for the sake of speaking, say something meaningful - in other words, do your homework.
First, always prepare for an upcoming meeting. It really doesn’t matter how insignificant a meeting may seem, you should always be prepared. Study your manager and learn their style, after a few months you should be able to anticipate what their next step will be in a given situation. Be proactive and initiate the next step before they request it or suggest the next step yourself.
Second, take the time to do some extra research. For example, consider the following type of questions when doing your research: has the issue at-hand been dealt with previously at your agency or at another agency? Are there similar cases or situations elsewhere in the country or world? Is there a model agency that implements best practices that your agency could emulate? Should your agency begin to do the same, if so, what? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself, the possibilities are truly endless. Don’t just think outside the box, know that there is no box to limit you.
Lastly, be confident. If you have prepared and have done the research, you know more than everyone else in the room - that’s a fact. You are sitting at the table because you are valuable. Speak-up and engage in dialogue, give your perspective, because it is not only unique, but needed.
The steps described take patience and work, but are truly rewarding. With time, the meeting will not start until you have arrived!
“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”- Sheryl Sandberg
Con Cariño, Esther Valle-Rojas
Alpha Zeta Chapter- Everlasting Alpha Class
Contact Esther at: [email protected] or Twitter @evallerojas
Esther is a Sr. Water Resources Planner for the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, she has worked in the water industry for seven years in various measures, including policy analysis, government relations, community outreach, project management and grant administration. She grew up in Las Vegas and recently moved to California where she lives with her husband, two daughters, sister and parents. Next to her family, her favorite past time is traveling and eating with her KDChi sisters!