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7 Non-bullshit tips for Uplifting Women in the Workplace

Abby Van Muijen animation studio Bay Area

Article by Abby VanMuijen, Edited by Bethany Kaylor, Cover Image Designed & Animated by Marisa Rafter

When I was a senior at UC Berkeley, one of my professors-- (not just any professor...we’re talking about the legendary Ananya Roy...)-- gave me an opportunity to make art and get paid for it. We worked together for two years on the #GlobalPOV project. That work eventually led to the creation of @RogueMark Studios. 

Ananya was the best ‘manager’ I have ever had. She introduced me to a badass matriarchal, “you’re here with me, on my level” type of leadership that I do my best to replicate for my RogueMark team. And in the age of “7 Tips for Managers looking to improve their teams, but really just reinforce Corporate Patriarchal Bullshit” articles, I wanted to share 7 non-bullshit things Ananya did to help me feel safe, valued and confident as a young woman entering the workforce: 

  1. She believed that my work had value. She told me this individually and in front of small and large groups of people. 

  2. She always introduced me to her colleagues (and made an extra effort to introduce me to those she respected most) with enthusiasm and a compliment to my work. If a conversation followed, she always steered it so that I could participate and wasn’t just standing there nodding my head.

  3. She taught me about patriarchy. She told me which men were dangerous and which men were dangerous and protected by our institution. She knew the rules of the game, shared them with me and in doing so, made it possible for me to disobey those rules. 

  4. She mandated that I give feedback on her work -- which she genuinely and thoughtfully considered or contested. I regularly saw my feedback reflected in her final work and was always graciously credited. 

  5. She invited me and other students over to her house for dinners, where she would cook fantastic meals and laugh with us.

  6. She never centered her work around clicks or views. She always came back to the mindset that “the work we are making needs to be work that people return to again and again--even 5-10 years from now.” The goal was to create provocational, smart, vulnerable content. 

  7. Most importantly, when Ananya asked me about my hopes and dreams for the future and I replied with some version of “I want to be like you and we should work together forever,” she told me that that wasn’t good enough-- that I needed to think bigger and find smarter people to work with. 

Ananya showed me that there is always room at the top, but the top is not the end goal. The top is where we begin the work of bringing others up and along. It is a place where those less senior to you, with less experience than you, are not below you-- they are with you. 

And so my question to you: Who are your badass, “you’re here on my level” leaders? What specific things have they done to bring you up and along? 

#GlobalPOV Animation