It was the “expert” exercise that got me. Each seminar participant had to claim themselves as an expert in something they had experience in and knowledge about. An expert? Who, me? How could I possibly be an expert in anything? Especially while sitting in a room full of doctors (whether or not they used the title), CEOs, academics and journalists. I was just a student/an intern/a young person. I listened to the other women in the room speak; they completely inspired me. Amongst us were experts in pediatrics, modern quilt-making and Islamic law, to name just a few. Thanks to our seminar leader, Zeba Khan, I quickly realized that I, too, was an expert. It didn’t matter my age, profession, or course of study. In fact, my experience as a young person interested in gender and the environment was exactly what made my expertise and viewpoint unique.
As the workshop went on, I reflected on where this doubt in my own expertise came from. Was it the idea of owning power? Claiming that I knew something very well? Maybe I was just plain afraid. Maybe it was the realization that my whole life, I had been taught to doubt myself because of my age, gender, or experience. “That’s ridiculous!,” we would say in the seminar. In fact, my voice matters quite a bit, because I have something to say. And I have the power to influence other young people, business leaders, and maybe even the legislature (at the least)!
So, what inspires me? What pisses me off? I’m so glad you asked.
— By Claire Tighe, Intern at WAM! Women, Action & the Media