How I Defied Critics In My Career Who Wrote Me Off Because Of My Age And Gender

By Theresa Siaw

Millions of people, young and old, turned out for the Women’s March in January 2017 as well as 2018. The protesters marched to the polls to end violence, promote civil rights, stand up for the LGBTQ community, help immigrants, protect our environment, and to encourage conversations on many other important topics. However, one thing ultimately united these world-wide marches: women’s rights. This diverse group bound together to shine a light on the inequalities women face to this day, and to be heard.

Although we have made tremendous improvements concerning women’s rights and the overall feminist movement throughout the years, there is always room for improvement. Sadly, many strong women continue to face prejudice in the workplace. I have had first-hand experience not being taken seriously when it came to my ideas and contributions at work, which for many leads to discouragement. We all occasionally need some help from somebody who can help you get right back up when you fall.

When I was starting my med-student training program, I was in my mid-twenties. My first client was a prominent school in the Caribbean. When I met the team for the first time in person, the first thing that the team asked me was how old I was. I answered with my age, which was 25 at the time, and they couldn’t believe how young I was. They just couldn’t believe that somebody so young would be running a medical training program that was so advanced! It was at this moment that I learned to never let age interfere with my goals and initiatives and I vowed not to let it.

As a female entrepreneur, I have had to work hard to express my confidence in a male-dominated world. I have held onto these tips, reciting them like a mantra whenever I lose my confidence. I order to feel more confident, women should:

1. Collaborate. We are strong individuals, but when we bond together, we are unstoppable. Working with others opens up endless doors of possibilities: from new ideas, to building relationships, or even just a quick laugh shared over a cup of coffee. Remember to stay open-minded.There are so many benefits to just sitting down and listening to somebody: whether it consists of chatting with clients, co-workers, or even your local barista. Networking is will always remain one of the key elements to rising in any industry! By listening to opinions that differ from yours, this will not only lead to everyone trusting you and supporting you, but will allow for overall happiness.

2. Keep learning. Jobs today are fast-paced, requiring constant monitoring of social media, events, professional/personal relationships, and catching up on studies in your field. Whether you attend a school in-person or go the distance learning route, such as an online bba program, there are many options for continuing your learning curve throughout life. You will learn from articles and books, but also from personal connections and experiences. One thing I always keep in mind is that you don’t always have to say yes to everyone.You can be the nicest person in the world, but some people will take advantage of that. Learn from your mistakes, and better yourself from them. It is okay to say no, if the opportunity is not a good fit for you and your brand. Being the ‘yes woman’ can actually do more harm then good, emotionally and physically. Ensure each time you say yes that it truly aligns with your goals and objectives as well.

3. Be yourself. As cliché as this might sound, you will never be able to feel confident about yourself if you’re not expressing who you truly are. However, most people don’t mention that finding out who you are takes time, and that it’s okay to not have an ideal understanding of that right now. Many women have to struggle through hard experiences to truly find out who they are, and that is alright. But once you brave through it, it will be more than worth it. Finding your passion, style, and ethics is your guide to happiness, and you will get there, even if it takes some time.

Focusing on collaborating, learning, and being myself have allowed me to thrive not only in the workplace, but at home as a mother, and as a community leader/activist. Now, more than ever, women are bonding together to make a difference and stick up for themselves worldwide. Let’s bring this growing confidence into the workplace, and show that we can overcome anything, and that the ‘future is female’ for a reason!







About Theresa Siaw:

Theresa Siaw, Business Development Director, joined the OMNI Healthcare team in 2015, where she launched a chronic disease reimbursement program for managed care patients with insurance payers. Offering a hand in both the development of the clinic and in the community surrounding the health center in Humboldt Park. She dedicates her time to the community and importance of education. 


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