"As a kid I read a lot of books and I noticed how male or female protagonists took different life paths. I learned there were acceptable paths based on gender. Sometimes novels give you a societal message, like Pride and Prejudice and sometimes the message is subtler. My interest in psychology is related to all the reading I've done and the questions I have about how someone's background influences what kind of character they become." - Sarah Wilen is a sociaspatial analyst at PLASTARC.
"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.
"My Dad told us we could do anything we wanted to do. My sister and I were too young to know that at that time, it wasn't really true. He raised us to think more like boys, to be independent, adventurous, and he believed in us. My sister and I took a cargo ship to Argentina when we were young, we traveled across the country alone. My Mother was aware of the danger of two girls traveling alone - and she worried about us, but my father believed we could do anything." - Jacquie McArdle is a fashion designer.
"I have always wanted to be a man and I have always been proud to be a woman. It seems simpler to be a man, you know, I have my dick and my knife and I am ready. But I always knew that there was certain power in being a woman. Women have the skills and capacity to multitask, analyze, to look at problems, measure, assess them - we can even look at anything and know what container it will fit in - we just know how to get shit done." - Laurence is a European actor and dancer.
"I was three years old, in the pew at church, and I told my Father I wanted to be a Catholic priest. He told me that I couldn't be a Catholic priest because that job was only for men. That experience sort of led me on a path to question and then gain access to places where women usually aren't. I am in the tech field, I often find myself in situations and at conferences where there aren't lines at the women's bathrooms and I wonder to myself why aren't there any women here?" Jennifer van der Meer is the founder and CEO of Reason Street, whose mission it is to help companies find the right business model.
"I grew up in Mexico and my Father worked in construction. There's a lot of machismo in Mexico and my Father didn't think I could work like a man and didn't want me or my sisters to do construction work. He also didn't want me to play sports, except for tennis." - Susana Martinez is a part time student and works as a janitor.
"I dedicated six years to helping young women through Boys Hope and Girls Hope of Baltimore. I worked there from 2010-2015 - I lived with the girls and helped them to support them in becoming better people with more opportunities. I left the job, but then I had to come back and stay involved. If I weren't a woman I wouldn't have had that opportunity because only women are hired to live in the house with the girls." - Tenne Thrower works for Black Girls Vote and Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baltimore.
"When I was caring for my Father, I had to basically scream to be heard by the medical professionals. But when a man would come on the scene they would listen to him. I think if I were a man they wouldn't have challenged me on everything. I think they expect women to be all yappy and yelling in order to be heard." - Sheena Paige
"One of my roles in the Obama Administration was to be a lead advance person for Secretary Hilda Solis. She wanted another Latina on her team she could promote and trust, and that position propelled me to where I am today." - Patty Padilla is the Executive Director of Global Events for the UN Foundation.
"I was on an airplane with my family and was seated next to an older man. He asked me to play Go-Fish, and while playing his hand started going up my skirt. I stood up and moved to an empty seat next to my brother. I was twelve years old, going through puberty, and thought I was doing something wrong - I always felt I was running away from my body. I wanted to cover up to avoid all the predatory sexual advances from grown men. I'm working through that body stuff now and working on empowering women in through my work in Ghana." - Rahama Wright, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, is the founder of Shea Yeleen, a social enterprise that promotes sustainable economic development in rural Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Being the woman means I'm the Mom. I am the organizer, the doer, the appointment maker. Even when I wish there was someone else to do all that - I know as a mother it is my job and I like that. I have a son and a daughter and I have raised them both to understand gender differences and to be respectful toward women." Leigh Goodmark is a professor of Law at the University of Maryland.
"There is a lot of pressure to be a specific kind of a woman. People don't always recognize my femininity because I take on the more masculine roles in relationships and at work. I express my feminism through my mannerisms rather than how I look. Am I a lack of a woman because I don't connect with that part of me, or am I still a woman?" - Jasmin Peltro works at WeWork and aspires to be a photographer.
I don’t believe there is a male or female role in terms of taking care of children. I think today there is a call for someone to step up for both parents to share the responsibilities. I am a business woman and a mother and I couldn’t travel and do my business if my husband weren’t caring for the children too.” - Mary Phan is a entrepreneur and founder of The Sketchbook Series.