This one is for the ladies. (But I’m sure some of the fellas can relate, too. Hi guys. I see you.)

Ladies – have you ever been in a situation where you wished you were smaller? Physically smaller? Intellectually smaller? Emotionally smaller? I assume that most women (#notallwomen) have felt this way at one point or another. Why? Because so much of our culture encourages it. Just look at any magazine cover, or film, or TV shows. Big girls with big ideas and big mouths don’t always get a lot of love.

There is a reason that the concept of “taking up too much space” is referred to as “man-spreading.” Big men are revered. Big women are reviled.

By default, boys and men are encouraged to expand into the world while girls and women are encouraged to shrink from it. Women are often taught from an early age to be less than, to take up less space, to be quiet, and polite, and deferential. Girls often learn that they are looked at first and listened to second.

But, there is something that you can do to change this and set an example for other girls and women coming up behind you: believe that you deserve a place at the table, in the boardroom, or on the stage — no matter what the culture tells you to the contrary.

Speak up. Stand your ground. Take up space.

Be the example you wish you had when you were younger. Don’t shrink from who you are; expand into it. Embrace it and own it and command the stage with it.

If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, hire a public speaking coach who can help you communicate with confidence; but don’t just hire the first person who comes along. Hire the best one you can find. Hire a public speaking coach who believes in you and supports what you have to say. Hire someone who makes you want to take up space and who can help you become the best and bravest version of yourself.

When you do that, you forge a new path for yourself and light the way for others who might be lost in the dark behind you.

Dr. Alexis Carreiro

Dr. Alexis Carreiro

Dr. Alexis Carreiro earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas-Austin in 2010. As a professor, presenter, and public speaker, she has spent more than 15,000 hours sharpening her communication competencies. As The Pitch Prof, she coaches and mentors her clients to help them reach their professional goals.