This is something I’ve been thinking about for the past year or so. And every month that goes by, I’m more sure of it.
Austin women are phenomenal.
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York where being olive-skinned was “exotic” and not in a good way. I was also smart, which wasn’t cool. I embraced my nerdiness in college (finally), but didn’t make any lasting connections there. College was cutthroat; you didn’t share notes, and you certainly didn’t help others succeed.
And so, it wasn’t until I moved to Austin a few years ago that I truly made friends with females. And not just any females: women who are smart and successful and confident.
When I first started working in the startup scene a few years ago, the number of women in the first coworking space I set up in was pitiful. The five of us that existed made friends in the near-empty bathroom and celebrated the fact that we never ran out of mouthwash and it was always quiet. Now, that coworking space is full of women.
I met most of my best friends here on Twitter. We had a few things in common: we liked to read, we loved to learn, and we really, really liked sharing stories over good food and whiskey (or gin, in my case).
Last week, a fairly awful post made its way around the internet. It was written by a woman who basically expressed her desire to never hire women because they cry a lot at work (I won’t link to it because I don’t want it to get any more hits). A friend of mine disagreed with the post, and was then attacked by internet trolls for not “debating” the issue. We saw nothing to debate. It was a stupid post written by a woman who said things that some men wanted to hear. It validated the thoughts they secretly, or not so secretly, had: women are weak, women gossip, women hamper the work environment.
Sure, some women do cry, I won’t deny that. Some women do gossip, and so do most men I know at one point or another. But that’s hardly the issue.
The women I’ve met and made friends with in Austin are exceptional. They are talented beyond belief. They are developers, designers, writers, production artists, teachers, business owners, mothers, wives, and everything in between. Without fail, when I meet these women, I am convinced they have super powers. They’re the women I always knew were out there but hadn’t yet met.
Maybe that’s what happens when you grow up. You start to meet the people you really connect with because you can choose who you spend time with. But I don’t think that’s the only thing at play here.
I think the environment of Austin fosters a community where smart women can be just that. The people here are supportive. They’re ready to make introductions with someone who can teach you about laser cutting, offer to take you out for a drink if you’re new in town, or drop by with coffee and a notebook to share ideas on how they started their business and you can, too.
I don’t have a huge, overarching point here. I guess I’m just grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to meet these people and that I’ve gotten such an incredible amount of support on my own journey.
You, ladies of Austin, are awesome, and continue to inspire me each and every day. Thank you.