Men Warn Me About Things. Women Help Me.

An observation about my experiences this past year in entrepreneurship, journalism, and building something new.

Heather Bryant

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Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash

I’m a journalist and a programmer. I’m a fan of big ideas and little experiments. I’m an optimist about potential until I have a reason to be a pessimist about reality.

One of the big reasons that I’m now working on mostly my own projects is that when I survey the landscape of jobs that might make sense for me, I don’t see any newsroom boxes that I currently want to fit in.

Part of that is frustration with legacy processes that I watch my network of amazing bad ass women colleagues fight through every single day to make progress on either their work or on improving the nature of the newsrooms they’re in.

Going my own route has been important to me so that I can speak to problems that I’m passionate about addressing. It’s also been a fascinating learning experience as I navigate this path of entrepreneur/journalist/developer. The thing that I’ve been reflecting on a lot recently is the pattern of interaction when I am talking to people about my projects after having reached out to them to learn more about their relevant experience or because they’ve reached out to me.

Put simply, men warn me about challenges. Women try to help me solve them.

It’s an interaction that’s very much in the same vein as Rebecca Solnit’s essential observation about explanation. And while it should be obvious, since this is the internet, I’ll clarify my observations are about the people I’ve interacted with, not every man and woman in existence so your experiences may very well be different than mine.

This isn’t without exception. There have been some wonderfully helpful men who’ve been generous with their time and advice. But for the most part, men tend to take the approach of warning me about all the things that will be hard, all the challenges to look out for, all the things I need to keep in mind, all the ways I could fail. Sometimes, it’s a Venn diagram as some men are helpful but also “concerned about how this is going to work.” These interactions do not frequently go beyond the warnings. They offer obstacles and little else.

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Heather Bryant

Deputy Director of Product @NewsCatalyst. Founder of @ProjectFacet, supporting effective, meaningful collaboration. The future of journalism is collaborative.