Whether it’s on the soccer field or inside an office, women can face unique challenges when trying to navigate their careers and move up the ranks in an organization.
Players from women’s professional soccer team Seattle Reign FC and local business leaders shared leadership advice at a panel discussion Thursday evening hosted by Seattle-based e-commerce company Zulily, which inked a jersey sponsorship deal with the team earlier this year.
Here’s a rundown of the stories and tips shared by the panelists:
— Celia Jiménez Delgado, a Reign FC right wing-back who is also an aerospace engineer, played for Spain during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She spoke about the unequal treatment received by the men’s and women’s national teams.
“We played on artificial grass, and we would see how stadiums were built for the men,” she said. “We still need to fly in the middle row and take these long overseas flights, when they have this private jet that they can just hop on and say, let me leave at the perfect time so that when we get there we’re in the perfect condition.”
The U.S. women’s national team has cited similar resource disparities; its players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit earlier this year.
Delgado, who graduated from the University of Alabama last year with an aerospace degree, spoke about general strategies for women in the workplace. She said using overly apologetic language like “Sorry, whenever you have a second, I would like to speak to you” is a mistake because, according to Delgado, “we don’t need to be sorry for doing our jobs.”
Women, she suggested, should start “changing those sentences to, ‘when would be a good time to talk about this project?’” and treating people “as your equal, not as someone who’s above you.”
— Jana Krinsky, director of studio at Zulily, said that sometimes women have trouble taking risks because “we like to plan things perfectly.” But, she said, “I think when we find ourselves in leadership, or in engineering, a lot of times it’s about trial and error … if you aren’t charting the undiscovered, you’re probably not doing your job that well.” A KPMG survey found that only 43 percent of female employees were comfortable taking large career risks, though other research has suggested female risk-taking is often overlooked in research.
— Angela Dunleavy-Stowell, CEO of Seattle-based nonprofit FareStart and co-founder at Ethan Stowell Restaurants, spoke about her struggles with “impostor syndrome,” or the conviction that she doesn’t deserve her success. During meetings, she said “I sometimes tell myself, ‘should I be here? I’m in over my head.’ And I sort of have to call bull*** on myself. I think we all kind of need to do that.”
One risk Dunleavy-Stowell spoke of was her decision to speak out against a local nightclub owner accused of sexual harassment and assault. The choice to speak on the record “was a much harder decision than I thought it would be,” she said. “I was taking that risk analysis of putting myself out there and publicly standing up against someone who had been quite powerful in the community.”
— This type of risk-taking, according to Katayoun Khosrowyar, head coach at Reign Academy, is the responsibility of women in leadership. “Don’t be complacent, and take risks,” she advised the audience. “You have that powerful platform to use, and use it wisely, otherwise you’ll be sitting in a corner enjoying a few minutes of fame, where actually you can actually make more of an impact by speaking up.”