What I’m fighting for.

Hi, I’m Anna. I’m #suitingup because in the first venture capital meeting I had, the male partner looked across the table and said “you don’t have an M.B.A, you aren’t a finance person, what are you- just pretty to look at?” I went home that night and died my hair brown because I had read somewhere that statistically men trust brunettes over blondes with finances.

I wish this post ended there- but it doesn’t.

I’m also #suiting up because as CEO, I had a board member constantly refer to me as “sweetie” while I was trying to lead meetings. Because I had a male investor harass and stalk me to the point where we couldn’t share the address of our office publicly and I had to make a safety plan with my co-founder and husband for leaving the office at night because I was scared I would never make it home. I’m suiting up because I was told I was “too emotional” to be a CEO and should be fired. I’m suiting up because I was constantly asked by investors if my co-founder was going to be as involved in my company after having a baby, and told “she says that now, but that will change because she’ll be a mom so you need to be prepared”. She stayed with the company.

I wish this post ended here, too. But it doesn’t.

I’m suiting up because prior to starting a company, I was the first female chairman of the Illinois College Republicans. When I cast a controversial vote for national chairman, I was slandered and harassed on blogs and message boards with comments like “this is why we don’t let people with p**sies be chairman (*ed. note- I still can’t type that word, even if Donald Trump said it). Vicious rumors were started that I only voted that way because I slept with the candidate. The online harassment got so bad, the state party chairman had to step in to stop it.

I’m suiting up because the fifty year old campaign manager when I was a field director would send everyone else out of the office when I was on the phone and grope me because he knew I couldn’t say anything if I was mid-sentence with volunteers. He would repeatedly tell me “the shorter the skirt, the bigger the check”. He would “leave things at his apartment” when we were on the way to events so I had to go in with him (it was a studio). If I said anything, I would have caused a scandal for the candidate and my future in campaigns would be uncertain and so he knew he could do what he wanted. Thankfully, I was rescued by a male colleague. I was 19.

I’m suiting up because I always thought there was something wrong with me, that somehow this was my fault. Maybe I was too sexy or not smart enough or not professional enough because I had been told that women were already equals and we already shattered the glass ceiling. But then Trump’s comments on the bus about grabbing women were dismissed as “locker room talk” and I watched on Tuesday as a women who had worked tirelessly and who was far beyond the most qualified, was passed over for a promotion. And it hurt. Not because of politics, but because it was personal. Because somehow all these stories of my mine, the sexual assault, and online harassment, the lack of confidence in my ability to lead, were now a part of the national discourse.

That’s when I realized it wasn’t me- it was us. I realized that we have so much work to do to protect women from these hidden experiences that most of us never share. Instead, we just put our heads down and keep working because that’s what we as women do. If I had these experiences as a white, Harvard Law educated woman, I can’t imagine what others have gone through.

Tuesday made me realize it’s time to #suitup and use the emotion from this election to find real solutions to the questions of how we empower and protect our women and girls as they go out to achieve their dreams. That’s why we are asking everyone to #suitup together and attend local conversations in cities across the country to identify solutions to the challenges facing women in our communities. We’ll then be compiling these ideas and distilling them down into a “100 day plan for women” to create real change. We want to create a movement of solutions, love, and compassion that impacts the lives of all women.

This is such important work. Please go to www.suituptogether.org and join a conversation in your local community to create positive change for women and girls.

Time to #suitup together and kick this glass ceiling in from the bottom up!

Anna

P.S.- Please take a moment to heart this and share…we need as many people #suitingup to find solutions as we can. Sign up here: www.suituptogether.org