Women tell Women

How to speak your mind professionally?

— Vera Sacchetti

It’s not always easy to find the strength to speak your mind at work. I could say, well – I could just say what I want to say and be done with it. At times I miss the brashness that I used to have in my twenties. But more recently (and especially after turning 35), I’ve learnt to listen and observe more to find the best moments to speak up.

In the culture industry and arts education, women usually hold lower and middle management positions. At the top level, they’re usually talking to men. On many occasions, it’s difficult to be heard or make oneself heard. You might say things that don’t get acknowledged until a male colleague repeats a version of what you just said and gets applauded for it. Sometimes the easiest way is to make men think they came up with the idea themselves. From my experience, many women are masters of planting seeds of concepts in their male colleagues’ minds that bloom afterwards. It means they won’t get credited for it – but it’s there, in the open. Is authorship that important? Is it enough for them to know they steered things in a certain direction?

I am less afraid to speak my mind, today, in professional contexts. But I don’t always use words – sometimes I just plant ideas.

Vera Sacchetti –

Vera Sacchetti is a Basel-based design critic and curator. She specializes in contemporary design & architecture and serves in a variety of curatorial, research and editorial roles. She is currently a program coordinator of the multidisciplinary research initiative Driving the Human: Seven Prototypes for Eco-social Renewal (2020-2023), which supports transdisciplinary research on sustainable futures; and co-initiator of the Design and Democracy platform which maps the intersections and overlaps between design and democratic systems and practices. Sacchetti teaches at HEAD Geneva, and in 2020 joined the Federal Design Commission of Switzerland.