Skip To Content

    24 Badass Women Talk About Times They Were Underestimated

    Who run the world?

    On June 14, the White House hosted the first ever United State of Women summit in Washington, D.C. to gather 5,000 activists, elected officials, businesswomen, and artists from around the country.

    BuzzFeed spoke with some of the badass women in attendance about a time when their abilities or intelligence were underestimated, and this is what they said.

    1. "I was underestimated by my high school college counselor because I was a 'project kid.'"

    2. "In 1986 I was working on the Amnesty bill to try to get people who were undocumented their legal residency...and I found out later that many male friends told Cesar Chavez, 'Oh, Dolores is crazy, she'll never make it happen.'"

    3. "In the a woman with a slight but obvious disability, I think I was overlooked."

    4. "[I've been underestimated] all of my adult life. I was a pregnant teenage mother at the age of 14. I had to drop out of high school and I was always looked at as the underdog."

    5. "When I left school to start modeling, I faced some really hard barriers."

    6. "When I first came to where I work now at Goddard [Space Institute], I'd asked about the steps to become a project manager. Years later, I heard from someone else [the man I'd asked] had confided in that he'd thought I was 'unusually ambitious.'"

    7. "When I decided to finish undergrad but actually open my own business and not go into the direct workforce, my family didn't necessarily believe I should be doing that."

    8. "Anytime I need to cover politics, I usually get asked if I've just moved to where I'm living – and I was born in [Canada], so it's really bothersome."

    9. "When I tell people I'm a trans woman of color, people underestimate me because of stereotypes that are specific to multiple intersecting identities I have that are oppressed."

    10. "I get underestimated a lot being a trainer. People either think you're too young, you're a person of color, you're queer, surely you're too many different things."

    11. "Very early in my career, I was a young computer programmer working for IBM. IBM brought me in to a large client to help them revamp their system..."

    12. "In many instances, I've underestimated myself and created my own limitations, often from comparing myself to other people who may be further along on their journey, or just in a different place."

    13. "When I started a pageant for black women, I felt completely underestimated by sponsors, by media, by my own black community, and it was very discouraging."

    14. "I started working in the late 70s/early 80s, and at that time salaries were really unbalanced."

    15. "When I was presenting research I'd completed to a community, and the research garnered a lot of interest, a respected man proceeded to come to me and tell me that 'sex sells' even though my research had nothing to do with sex."

    16. "I was in a domestically abusive relationship, and everyone thought that I wouldn't come out of it. I did."

    17. "I dropped out of high school when I was 16, and I think at that point there were a lot of really severe assumptions about what that meant I was going to do with the rest of my live and what 'kind of girl' that meant I was."

    18. "When I first got into the organizing world, I was doubted as to whether I could actually do the job of an organizer because I'm a mother."

    19. "A couple years ago, I ran as a candidate for our state House of Representatives. I was the first Native American female ever to run."

    20. "I remember right after I finished my doctorate, I was really looking for my next big gig. Someone had introduced me to this woman, a truly incredible game-changer in Silicon Valley."

    21. "When I would show up to carpentry sites for work, men sometimes assumed I can't build."

    22. "I transferred to a public high school and they told me that I wouldn't be able to get an advanced diploma, that I should drop out of Spanish courses because I was too far behind."

    23. "I think I probably underestimate myself more than anyone outside. The fact that I'm serving as deputy director, I would've never even imagined it."

    24. "I remember [my parents] had not saved for college even though they had put me in a very expensive college, and left me hanging second semester sophomore year."