It was just another ordinary fabulous Saturday night out in New York City. I made my way downtown, very downtown, to this cute hidden Mexican bar, Pulqueria, to meet up with my friend after seeing the hilarious and inspiring Broadway show Beautiful about Carol King’s remarkable life story (highly recommended).
Going for the effortlessly chic look, I wore my favorite LBD, my new white leather sneakers, paired with my bright yellow crossbody bag to add some color. To match my statement bag, I tied a colorful silk scarf around my hair.
As I sat by the bar with my friend while she ordered the appropriate tequila-based cocktail and I ordered my favorite go-to drink, soda water, we began chatting with one of her old friends from Penn, now in his 30s. He began to tell me about his software company, without wanting to elaborate much, since that was “not sexy.” At this point, he knew nothing about me. As I tried to show more interest in his company, he took charge of the interrogation and began questioning me.
After I finished my 15-second explanation of why I am a 24-year-old rising sophomore, he asked me what I am studying at Stanford. “Computer Science and Psychology,” I said, my simplification of Symbolic Systems to the outside world. He seemed surprised. Very surprised. “Oh, wow. So are you going to code?” he asked. Confused by his question, I said, “I already code.” Now shocked, he patted my shoulder and said how impressed he was.
Shaking off my semi-shock from my face-to-face encounter with the stereotype, I told him I thought it was sad he was so surprised and “impressed” that I code, which made him feel uncomfortable. “It was nice to meet you,” he replied and walked away. (The next day he texted my friend apologizing for offending me.)
Are geek and chic mutually exclusive? Is it so hard to believe that a 24-year-old young woman, wearing an LBD, platform sneaks, a bright yellow bag, and a silk scarf tied around her hair can code? I guess it is. For now.
So once again it is confirmed. The stereotypes are real. And they are everywhere. From large corporate firms, tech companies, classrooms, to Pulqueria, the small cute hidden Mexican bar located in lower Manhattan. It is up to us to fight them.
While winning the war might take some time, we can start by winning some battles. I’m a big believer that the smallest change can make the biggest difference. So next time you face the stereotypes with your cute outfit, you have two choices: you can either wait, ignore it in the moment, and call your BFF from the Uber ride home and complain about it, OR you can embrace the power that you have and decide to confront it right there and then, LIVE, while you’re staring them in the eye.
Although sometimes choice #1 may be more appropriate, the bottom line is that there is a lot of talk about feminism, the glass ceiling, and the stereotypes. There is, however, far less doing. So let’s talk less and do more, and be our 100% stylish selves along the way.