How to Find Your Voice in a Room Full of Men

by Erika Fernandez

Not to be cliche or quote a movie, but Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods, was right, “You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.”
A room full of men can be intimidating because as females, sometimes we wonder if we’re enough. I think it’s time I share a moment in which I almost stayed quiet because I truly struggled to find my voice. Back in 2015, I was invited to an event MLB was hosting, the Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, which is just a fancy smancy title for, ‘we need more diversity in sports.’ This was in the very beginning of my career but was an opportunity I thoroughly wanted to take advantage of. The then MLB Senior VP of Diversity & Strategic Alliances, Wendy Lewis, grabbed me towards the end and said, “Alright, the press room is all ready for you guys to speak to Robert Manfred,” he’s the MLB commissioner. Immediately, I said WHOA, okay let’s do this. I was taken to the Mets press room and I expected a room full of people because duh- this is the MLB commish. To my surprise, it was only 3 other men, older and white at that. I took my seat and was like wow, I’m representing so many people right now. And when I say representing, I mean Black women, Latino men, and Black men. I’m a minority and the irony is that I was at a diversity symposium. That room didn’t reflect that at all. But, I have to admit that at first, I was struggling to find my voice. I felt so intimidated because I didn’t identify with anyone in the room and it’s such a sad feeling because you want to excel. I literally told myself as they discussed diversity in MLB & more inclusion of Mexico (ironically), “Erika, you need to ask something and make it memorable. Own the fucking moment! You deserve to be here. Don’t ever forget that.” I took a breath and then raised my hand and grabbed the microphone. It was the proudest moment I’ve ever had in sports.

So, going back to my title, you truly have to dig deep within you and find your voice. You must always water it and never ever let yourself down, no matter how intimidating the room may look. Always remember that nothing comes to a dreamer besides sleep. You don’t have dreams; you have goals.

More About Erika

Erika Fernandez covers sports on Black Sports Online and does DAZN’s bilingual social media editing. She is a proud Fordham alum who was born and raised in New York City. Erika wanted to stay true to her roots and truly stand out as a journalist with something memorable, so she goes by CurlsandSports on social media. When she’s not working Erika attempts to binge on shows that everyone’s been talking about while being your favorite meme dealer with a sprinkle of puppy videos.

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