I Am a Woman and I Have a Problem: A Women's History Month Reflection

Posted: March 26, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

On March 5th, I joined three amazing women on stage during the morning panel of the Women’s History Month Celebration. Dr. Clarenda Phillips, Stacy Rowan, Erin Lewis, and I spoke to the audience about how we shaped our own destinies. Our words encouraged others to acknowledge and appreciate the path paved for us while paving the way for those coming after. The audience was encouraged to find a support unit who would stand beside them through thick and thin. It was also acknowledged that it takes great courage, bravery, and heart to step away from your developing career and be a mommy to a beautiful miracle baby. Finally, I stepped into the spotlight and spoke to the audience about the struggles that I face with self-doubt and self-depreciation.

With March being a month-long celebration of women and women’s history, I decided to go ahead and share the written draft of my speech here. If nothing else, hopefully it sparks thoughts and conversations.


When I was asked to join this panel, first I was honored, then I was nervous…and then I panicked and wondered what in the world I would talk about. I found myself also questioning my right to be up here. Am I really the right person to talk about how I shaped my destiny or how I present myself as a strong, independent woman?  

It was in that panicked state, full of self-doubt, when I realized: THIS is what I need to talk about.

You see, I have a problem. It’s a problem we have all experienced at some point in our lives…whether we like to admit it or not. It's called self-doubt.

It’s that little voice that says, “Yeah, I studied for hours, but I KNOW I failed that test.” Or whispers, “I shouldn't even try for that job, I know I’ll never get it.” It tends to walk hand-in-hand with self-depreciation, “Yeah, I guess I did work really hard on that task and it all went well…but really it was nothing, I didn't do much and it probably could’ve gone better.”

It’s a problem that I struggle with on a daily basis. I remember as I was wrapping up my master’s degree, already working at the Bell Library as a Library Information Specialist, we had two vacant librarian positions. During the interviews for the first position, two of my co-workers – both librarians – asked me if I had applied for the second librarian position. Immediately I responded with, “No, after I read the job description and requirements, I really don’t think I have what it’s asking for.” This made one of my colleagues pause. She said she found my response interesting. According to a study she had recently read, a man can read a job opening, have about 60% of the required skills and typically, without hesitation, apply for the position. A woman, on the other hand, can have that same 60% and not even bother.

Why is that? What is it that gives many men the confidence to say, “Yes, I can!”, while many women will hold back?

Last fall, I led the library’s International Games Week event. We hosted around 16 escape rooms and saw students, staff, faculty, and even upper admin try their hand as escaping. We were honored and excited that we received so many participants. In this escape room, we presented a puzzle with three math problems. While the math looked complicated, it was actually pretty easy and straight forward – as long as you remembered your order of operations. Without fail, within mixed gender groups, a woman would come across the math puzzle, turn to her male counterparts and say, “Oh, that’s math, that’s all you!”

While a few of those men did step in and solve the problems, more often than not, they would abandon the problem and seek out another puzzle. It was then those same women who shied away from it, who would return, sit, take a few moments, and lo and behold they would solve it.

Why is THAT? Why did so many women see math and immediately feel that their male partners could tackle it better?

These little nuances fill my mind and bubble up in conversations with friends and colleagues.

Like I said, I have a problem. I fall into very similar holes or traps that…if we want to launch a bigger conversation…society has created for me.

I am a woman…and I am expected to be humble, mild mannered, polite, bad at math apparently…or so I was raised to believe. Now I’m seeing that I’m humble to a fault, I’m too mild mannered, and I need to stop saying “sorry” for problems I didn't cause or create. I’m discovering a new way to define what a woman is. I’m seeing and reminding myself daily that yes, I DID work really hard on that project that came out amazing and yes, I DO deserve proper recognition for it. Yes, I can do just about anything I put my mind to.

I am a woman…and I have a problem, but I’m working on fixing that problem; and, I’m here to remind you – who may be experiencing the same type of problem in your own way, or even witnessing someone else facing such a problem – that you can fix it too. Together, slowly but surely, we can work towards erasing this problem, giving a new definition to what being a woman means, filling in those holes and traps. We can do this one woman at a time, starting with ourselves.

Thank you!




By: Trisha Hernandez

Category: Hello, from the Staff