Years ago I attended a women’s workshop hosted by The OpEd Project, an organization dedicated to diversifying voices in the media. The first exercise was for each of us to state our particular area of expertise to the group. I remember the anxiety I felt as I attempted to articulate what felt truthful and authentic to claim as an area of personal mastery. I ended up reciting something practically verbatim from my job description at the time, stumbling over the phrase “I am an expert…” It was terribly uncomfortable.
Recently I’ve experienced similar discomfort when several folks have referred to me as a “podcasting expert.” A podcasting expert? Hardly! Sure, I co-host a podcast. Yes, we produce it ourselves. Indeed, we’ve published more than twenty episodes in the last year, and we’ve built a consistent following. But, it’s not like we’re topping the charts over on Apple Podcasts. Thosepeople are the “real” podcasting experts.
Assertively claiming our expertise, like others form of self-endorsement, is seldom encouraged among women. In the workplace overly confident women leaders are penalized for being “unlikable.” But even if women are externally validated as experts in their field through schooling or other credentials, their expertise is not deemed as trustworthy as that of their male counterparts.