Hi, my name is Julie Lenard, and I'm an expert on...

Today I attended an OpEd Project Core Seminar in DC.


This is a truly amazing organization whose mission is to expand the public debate. Since only 15 % of op-eds are currently submitted by women, obviously the public discourse is warped. This was an amazing, empowering, informative, life-changing kind of day.

However, the moment that stuck out to me was when we had to re-introduce ourselves (we had already done initial introductions) as experts on a subject.

"Hi, my name is _____, and I'm an expert on ______ because ________."



Suddenly, all of these powerful, intelligent, witty women who had just seconds before introduced themselves with confidence and ease suddenly floundered. They whispered their PhD's under their breaths, dismissed years of experience with a wave of a hand, and uttered disclaimer after disclaimer after disclaimer.

The two men in the room (yes, as long as men support the mission of the project, they are welcome to join) had no such issues.

I don't want to speak in generalizations about women, but I know that personally, this sudden challenge filled me with dread. I've always considered myself a jack of all trades kind of woman. I'm a learner, a dabbler - the kind of woman who has interesting experiences. I would certainly never classify myself as an expert. That would be bragging...right?

Yet I realized that in order to write a convincing opinion editorial, I was going to have to start believing that I did have some expertise. After all, everyone is an expert on something. One doesn't need a PhD from Harvard to prove expertise.

I took a deep breath:

"Hi, my name is Julie Lenard, and I'm an expert on the damaging effects of standardized testing on the education of children because I've been teaching for 8 years in public, charter and private schools, I've taught over 500 students, I've administered over 20 standardized tests, and I have my Masters in Education."

I had stated my expertise with confidence and I had backed it up with evidence.

Guess what? In that moment, everyone trusted me as an expert in my field. Crazy how that works.

What are YOU an expert on?