Princeton’s She Roars conference was both poignant and empowering, especially as it came at the height of national discussions over sexual assault and white male privilege. Listening to the speakers — from the massive events in Jadwin to the small breakout sessions — I wished my college-student daughter could be sitting beside me, soaking it up. Here’s some of the advice for her that fills my notebook:
From Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell ’86: Be proud. “We as women often look at our imperfections. We don’t look at our possibilities.” So when a man looks into the mirror, he sees a potential president. When a woman looks, she sees wrinkles.
From social psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy *05: Take up space — it makes you feel more powerful. “When you feel powerful, you see the world not as a place of threats, but of opportunities.”
From Patricia Falcone ’74, deputy director for science and technology at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “Numeracy matters. And computer science matters.” A functioning democracy requires that we think through the meaning of data.
From an anonymous member of Terrace Club: Rejection leads to opportunity. “Getting hosed was the best thing that ever happened to me! Food = Love,” said a sticky note on a board covered by notes with advice to students. “I second that,” someone wrote in reply.
From Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76: Take chances. And find the good in people with whom you disagree, because then “there’s more space to compromise; there’s more space to engage.”
From journalist and professor Kathy Kiely ’77: Improve your “media diet” by adding the equivalent of editorial whole grains. Read real news — and be willing to pay for it.
From multiple speakers: Be civically engaged — and run for office if you can. In one of the most moving parts of her talk, Sewell recounted how, in 2015, a parade of national officials greeted 103-year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Robinson was severely beaten that day in 1965 when she attempted to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma en route to Montgomery. At the commemoration, the officials thanked Robinson for her courage, each telling her: “I stand on your shoulders.”
Finally Robinson replied with great advice of her own: “Get off my shoulders and do your own work!”