#YLAIEmpowers: How to Overcome Barriers

#YLAIEmpowers women is a special YLAI Network effort focusing on ways to support women as leaders. Learn how you can get involved at ylai.state.gov/women.

By Ashley Hoye

Ever wonder what challenges women face in certain career fields? How about strategies to overcome these issues?

We had the pleasure of interviewing 2016 YLAI Fellow Ashleigh Rolle on these questions.

Here is what she had to say:

Q: Have you experienced any challenges as a woman in your pursuit of a professional career? If so, what are some strategies you used to navigate these challenges?

A: There have been several occasions where I’ve been made to feel like my presence is not needed my voice doesn’t need to be heard in a meeting and my experience was invalid. I’ve been able to navigate the murky waters of misogyny by ignoring it in some cases and loudly  calling it out in others. I also stopped apologizing for wanting to be heard in these discussions and would continue to say what needs to be said unflinchingly.

Q: Why is it important for women and men to care about creating leadership opportunities for women in business or other organizations?

A: Representation matters and businesses flourish when true diversity across all spectrums are at the core of any establishment. Diverse leaders provide diverse experience and thus create innovative solutions to seemingly difficult problems. I think this why it’s important that we create leadership opportunities for women in business.

Q: What are some words of advice you have for young women interested in becoming influential leaders? What do you wish someone would have said to you?

A: I think there are so many people trying their very best to be influential and     inspirational that they’re losing track of what those things should even mean. My advice I guess would be to continue working in the field in which you truly want to make the most change you would eventually set yourself apart as someone influential in that field especially if that work is coming from a genuine place. I think it’s also important to surround yourself with people that inspire you on a day-to-day basis to be your best self. There’s a dream that we often sell to little kids that if they believe in something hard enough then they can be it. We often leave out the obstacles they may face. I wish I was better prepared to face those obstacles and in some cases recognize them.

Ashleigh Rolle (@ashsean) can be found on Twitter & Instagram. You can read one of her published articles here: Ashleigh Sean Rolle | The Huffington Post

Remember: when women lead, we all succeed. Let’s empower women together.