The Women’s Voices Project

In a series of as-told-to conversations, two dozen Texas women talk about gender, work, and what needs to change for women in their home state.

I’ve spent five months talking to Texas women about their experiences in the workplace. Even with #MeToo top of mind for me, as it is for so many, I was stunned by how universal the harassment was: When a cardiologist physically harassed an ICU nurse, she shrugged it off and continued taking care of dying patients through her twelve-hour shift; an oil rig foreman assaulted a woman selling pumping units, and as a result she never met in a customer’s offices alone again; another woman was traumatized when a father figure at work kissed her against her will at age fifteen, and she kept the incident a secret for fifty years.

As a nation, we’ve begun talking publicly about these experiences, and as the #MeToo movement has grown, we’ve started to realize that our approach toward gender in the workplace needs to change. But it’s impossible to expunge every supervisor who sends an employee graphic photos, every colleague who leers at his coworkers, every boss who gropes workers in a dark storeroom. So how do we reform the way we approach sexism in the workplace? In the wake of #MeToo, what comes next?

My colleagues and I posed those questions to Texas women from a range of industries and backgrounds. We talked to women in positions of power—who run corporations, lead universities, and helm newspapers—as well as those in less visible roles: our state’s nurses, technicians, and oil workers.

These Texans spoke eloquently about what must follow the #MeToo conversations. Some of the women we talked to suggested legal and institutional corrections. Others spoke about how women can support those without a voice. But nearly all of them, in some way, echoed what author Sandra Cisneros told me: “The most important thing about the whole #MeToo movement is to have people listen—we don’t do very much listening in this age. This is the time that we need to listen to those who have not had the microphone.” We’re listening. Here’s what we’ve heard. —Charley Locke

The Voices

“Women need to know what to look for and how to respond. It should really be taught like a life skill: this is how you do a resume, this is how you manage credit cards, this is how you understand sexual harassment and what to do if you’re in that position.”

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The Culture

Dilma Da Silva: In Male-Dominated Fields, Create the Work Culture You Wish You Had Come Up In

"When you have companies where women are CEOs, where they really have a hold at the top, it does make a difference. It has changed the culture. Now, you don’t assume that your boss will be playing golf, like the senior vice president that you had 25 or 30 years ago. The traditional vice president that we have now is a woman that has teenage children, and has a very different life."

women computer science

“I think of traumatic experiences as like a little grain of sand and you’re the oyster: you tell that story, and each time, you put a layer of nacre on it. Otherwise, that little grain of sand is going to kill you. Finally, one day, you’ve told the story so many times that you understand it, and it can dislodge. It’s a pearl, something of beauty, and you can give it away.”

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Sylvia Garcia

Sylvia Garcia: Remember Due Process

"The issue isn’t going away, because for once, women feel like they can speak up and that they are finally being heard. And I think as a body, the Texas Legislature needs to demonstrate that we’ve heard these women, and that we’re going to clean our own house."

Gina Chavez

Gina Chavez: Recognize Your Privilege

"When you have credibility and a mic from which to speak, that comes with a responsibility. Having a woman onstage allows a girl in the audience to say, oh, I can do that. A platform is an opportunity, and so is an audience."