"When I was 22 I was told by my employer that I had the highest paying job that I'd ever have as a woman at that company. That pushed me to go back to school and earn a degree which led me to where I am today."- Lori Heino-Royer is the Director of Business Development at Daimler Trucks North America.
"Since my father's passing I've noticed that I have so much of his strength. On March 9th, 1975 my father, Francis Dada, first stepped on U.S. soil. He was fearless and selfless and determined to make another life for himself when he left Nigeria. He came here and was a janitor at McDonald's and became a microbiologist and raised 6 kids. I feel like he was my celebrity. Everything he has ever said to me, I hear so loudly still. He said I was a pioneer in technology and he wanted me to reach my fullest potential. He was my biggest champion." - Jumoke Dada is a tech consultant and strategist for women at Dadaverse.org.
"My parents raised me to believe I could do anything and gender was never a part of it. When I was 18 years I went to Florida to pick up a car from my father and drive it back to Texas. He gave me his car and he also gave me his gun. He said, "You never point this gun at someone unless you plan on killing them." That was the first time he showed to me that he is scared to have a girl in the world and it was when I realized I may not be as powerful and untouchable as I thought I was or as they raised me to be." - Deborah Cannon is a photojournalist and lives in Austin, Texas.
"I have a twin brother and grew up in a Cuban family that was very old school and traditional and quite a bit machista. Having this person that was the same age - the same everything made me aware when my brother got more liberties than I did. And at a young age I would tell my parents that it wasn't fair and they acknowledged what I was saying- and it changed them. There was no room for argument because we were twins. That shaped me. I was able to to stand up for myself in a very concrete way." - Cristina Tamayo works for parallel18 and is pregnant. She is expecting a girl.
“I got fired from my own company when I filed for divorce. Although I was the one who put in the capitol, I didn't realize my name wasn’t on the business. Part of it was that I was asleep at the wheel. I think a man wouldn’t have allowed that to happen. They would have made sure their name was on the papers.” - Cam Kashani is the Co-Founder and CEO of COACCEL, the human accelerator.
"My father passed away a few months ago. He was from India and when he moved to the United States he didn't want to maintain strong connections with his roots. Eight years ago I went to India and I got to know my Indian family. One of the happiest days of my life was when I realized I had didis. "Didi" means older sister in Hindi and can include cousins. My didis are the eldest daughters of my father's youngest sister. The warmth and love between us was immediate. It was unconditional. They didn't know me and I didn't know them. I didn't know I had didis growing up. I mean WTF. Now we have a didis group on Whatsapp. My Father wanted me to take a safe path, be a lawyer and I pursued a different path. We butted heads until my mid-30's and then this trip to India was a new beginning for my father and me. He started telling me stories about the bumpy path of his immigration. When he was on his deathbed, he told my brother to bring his ashes to the Ganges River. It is the son who has to bury the father. There's no role for the woman in the ritual, as my mother told me. I couldn't take the trip to India this year, to the Ganges - the day my mother and brother went there I cried so hard. But I was with them in spirit. And I'm so glad our Indian family took such good care of them." - Kirin Kalia is the Director of Communications at KITE.
"I went to an all girls school and my friends from there are my army of soul sisters. There are 12 of us, we have been best friends since we were 12." -Belisa Bermúdez Fernández is a start up executive at Parallel18.
"It's because I am a woman of color and graduated from an Ivy League school that Dolly Singh hired me to be general counsel for her company Thesis Couture Inc. My peers are the demographic for her brand." - Kelly D. Shapiro is an attorney who provides legal representation and business counseling to clients in the entertainment, tech and start-up industry.
"Listening to the stories that women shared with me inspired me to write my book, "Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley". If I weren't a woman I wouldn't have had the understanding about their experience in Silicon Valley. I hope my contribution starts a conversation that makes the world a better place for all of us." - Emily Chang is a journalist/author and the host of Bloomberg Technology.
"The customers like coming to the women artists. They think we have more patience listening to them and with the design process. I don't really think we are more patient. I'm not more patient, but people perceive us to be." - Sonya Zhang is a tattoo artist in the East Village and she is originally from China.
"In 1974 I wasn't allowed to be in or even try out for Little League. There were four of us girls who fought to change the rule and we won. It became a big deal. The headline in the newspaper read, "Girls make History/Herstory". All four us tried out and made the league. They put each of us on different teams though. Our teammates were very respectful, they knew we were good players. The boys from the other teams who didn't have girls on their team made fun of us." - Margie Alley
"Everything would have been different if I weren't a woman, especially where I come from in rural Switzerland. It was very gender distinct, so much so that I never even heard about homosexuality until very late in life. My mother said she was a feminist but there was a big discrepancy between her discourse and her actions. She was the center pole of the family and she worked hard and earned a better living than my father but there was always a deference to the males in the family. That is just the way it was there. In my village, divorced women were often looked down on. Even if it was the man who had a lover and broke up the marriage, it was the divorced woman who would have the lower social position. But my mother was always kind to divorced women, well really to all women. She loved women. " - Sylvie Degiez is originally from Switzerland and is a composer/musician/educator.
"When I got married I had a party for the family in New Orleans. At the party, my grandfather Deville said, "Well there goes the acting career." He was right because I gave up so many opportunities. My husband was not supportive of my acting career, he wanted me to be his secretary and have babies. I stayed married for 12 years and left when I was 30. If I were a man I wouldn't of had to ask anyone's permission or question any of those opportunities." - Bambi DeVille owns a vintage clothing shop in New Orleans.
"I lost my son, Bear. Absolutely the most joy in my life came from him and the most pain I've experienced came from losing him. And that experience will never be matched. In Bear's birth and in his death he saved me. Joe Biden said, "You get to a point where the memories make you smile more than the pain hurts." He was my only one, and I'm too old to have another. " - Alexandria Cmaylo is an artist and lives in New Orleans.
"I come from a background of women who didn't know their worth or see themselves as goddesses or know that they were goddesses. They didn't even have standards set for men to even meet. It's been interesting stepping into my own. There's no self-sacrificing that I am going to do. Too many women don't know how to keep to their standards or how to live their standards. I am the table, you bring the gift. I am the Queen, not you. In ancient stories the woman came first." - Mina McCree is a musician/writer who lives in New Orleans.
"The power of grace, women, we just have it. This grace, it's a gift. I love being a woman and I would never choose otherwise. To me, grace means being educated, fancy, sexy and terrific inside and out. And having a loving and inviting spirit inside and out." - Shawn-Michelle Rudism is the owner of the vintage clothing shop, Fraulein's World in New Orleans.
"I told myself if I didn't have a baby by the time I was 25, I wasn't gonna have one. I wanted to have a baby, raise her and still be able to be young and live my life. I raised my baby. I'm still young, I move around and I enjoy life." - Dianthe Johnson works in the construction field and is also a Lyft driver in New Orleans.
"Coming to this country ten years ago made my life. Being here opened up my mind to what it means to be a gay person. When I got my NYC city card they asked me whether I wanted to register as a woman, a man, both or neither. I said, "What? Wow! This is the country that I needed." In my country, Columbia, I couldn't come out as being a gay person. Being here gave me the opportunity to create my business with my wife. The small business center in NYC helped us get through the legal parts of setting up our business and helped us with marketing." Omary Carreo is the c0-owner of Tangerine Cleaning Service.
"I have amazing kids. Being a woman and being able to have children is wonderful but it can also be confining. I couldn't continue with my career because my husband and I started our family. With my husband's career and schedule it would have been really difficult to maintain a house and a family if we were both working. It was a choice to stay home. I am a rather conventional person and I couldn't see myself taking to the streets. This was during the 60's it was a time of turmoil in this country. It was the beginning of the women's movement. But I wasn't going to go out and burn my bra in protest. That just wasn't me." Ellen Hagler has two children and four grandchildren. This is my mother and what better day to feature my mother to whom I am grateful for so many things including the spread she cooked today.
"As a woman I understand beauty. I understand what beauty is outside of myself and inside of myself. I was influenced in the past by societal standards and trying to fit that certain mold. But there's nothing more beautiful than knowing who you are. No matter what you are beautiful." - Maya Valentine is studying to become a journalist.