Jun 25

This blog could also be called “Is your permission slip signed?”

Soooooooo, why did it take so long to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen? (SO to @wendywise for posing this question during her talk at Women Who Code’s We RISE Tech Conference this weekend.)

It’s not because women aren’t behind the camera anymore. There have been at least 5 Superman movies made, Batman has had his fair share of screen time and nondescript actors behind the mask and Spiderman, oh lordt, Spiderman! Spiderman’s origin story shouldn’t be told not one ‘nother time this century – will he ever grow up?

I mean they threw together the Charlie’s Angels movie like nothing you’ve ever seen; keeping in mind as strong as they were, they still needed a man’s permission and leadership for cultural and societal validation…or did they? Funny thing: as a young girl raised by a bevy of strong women and growing up watching the the OG TV show, I had a sense those women didn’t really need Charlie. In fact – as I got a little older, I used to pretend that Charlie wasn’t even the real leader. You could see in their eyes (or hair flips) those women knew what they were getting into, what they were going to do when they got into it, how they were going to get out of it without chipping a nail getting more than a couple of strands of hair out of place. Still, there was a part of every show where they had to go into the office and get their marching orders from Charlie.

But we don’t need permission anymore, not as women, not as daughters, not as PoC, or “under-served” communities. The truth is, we never did. We can do whatever we want or need to get done. There are no excuses anymore. The key is: together. We have to move, grow, learn, TOGETHER. It doesn’t matter where you went to school or if you went to school. Maybe you went to school and didn’t finish (like me) or maybe you majored in something for your parents or because you scored a certain score on some aptitude test your junior year in high school. It doesn’t matter if you know what a compiler is or that JavaScript and Java are NOT related to one another. If When you find your tribe, make a plan and move together toward your common goals. Or at the least agree to support one another wholeheartedly.

If you are part of a segment that is considered under-served (which can sound a heck of a lot like “un-deserved” sometimes) then put on your big girl panties (briefs or boxers) and go serve yourself! You can do it, the resources are there, we are here, there are people who will help you when they see you struggling. One of my senior tribe members often says to our group, “The universe is not conspiring against you. Any opposition you feel moving against your dreams or wants or wishes is you.” So why are you waiting for permission to do what you can already do. You, I, WE don’t need permission.

Yes, I may sound all big and bad behind this keyboard and the shroud of the Internets, but I’m really writing this for myself. I’ve waited almost 20 years to give myself permission to become a coder because of stereotypes, the landscape of the industry and self-sabotage. The interesting thing about where I am in my life and career – I wouldn’t be in this exact thought space at this exact moment if it was not for a former director who opened my eyes to the bias of privilege from the mainstream. And I don’t mean in a good way; no, he didn’t invite to me chat over lunch to get to know me better and gently lay on me how this world really sees me in a manner that would not bust my bubble. Instead, he called me in his office (along with my manager at the time) and proceeded to speak to me in a manner that was meant to crush my spirit, incite fear or possibly make me leave the company. He actually turned his chair away from his desk so he could square his shoulders toward me, propped his elbows on his knees, grit his teeth and proceeded to tell me what a horrible employee/person I was from top to bottom and what a shame it would be if word got out that I was difficult to work with, because that could happen. All because I had no problem vocalizing my concerns about my career path. Remember I was raised by strong women who always spoke their minds; always. So no matter that I had received accolade after accolade from colleagues across team functions for my work, my dedication, my expertise – in his eyes – I was no more than an “unprofessional, aggressive, and defensive” employee who needed somewhere else to go.

I shared all of that to say, I didn’t even know it but I was waiting on his permission to tell me I was a Senior-Level/leader on the team. Truth is I was already that before I didn’t need permission from anyone besides myself to be who I already was. So I found some folks who I could be candid and vulnerable with, shared my story, my concerns, my fears and made a decision to stay. It wasn’t easy, but stood in the new-to-me truth gave myself permission to live my truth – and that truth was eventually able to shine bright again. In the last six months there was a huge reorg, I was promoted to a Senior position on my team under a new director. I started a part-time class at General Assembly for Front End Web Development (from which I graduated 2 nights ago) and found a wonderful local community of Women Who Code while attending the 1st ever We RISE Tech Conference. Proof that I’m not waiting for permission (external validation) any longer. <—See there was a point!

Now, back to Wonder Woman; as 40-50 year-old women who have been secretly wearing their WW Under Roos all these years, we (generally speaking, of course) have failed. We waited for Hollywood to tell us now is the time for a movie celebrating our super powers. And that’s okay, because we have learned our lesson and now we can move forward together and begin to tell the stories of thousands of other “wonder” women everywhere for all time. And who knows, maybe I will finally find that picture of me in my Wonder Woman Under Roos! Couldn’t tell me nothing…

And as for that permission slip – sign it for yourself!