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How We'll Win in 2019

Women and their allies are taking bold steps towards achieving gender equality in the workplace. Here’s how they’re moving us forward.

Franmarie Metzler
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

After overcoming shyness, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan found that friendships are key to success in public service

This story is part of How We’ll Win in 2019, a year-long exploration of workplace gender equality. Read more stories here

Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) has had lot of different titles. Trained as an engineer, Houlahan served in the Air Force, and taught chemistry in Philadelphia as a member of Teach for America. She’s run several companies—an education-focused nonprofit, a basketball apparel company, and an organization that certifies companies with a mission for social good. Now Houlahan has a new title to add to her list: congresswoman. Houlahan serves on the House’s Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

What have you learned though your career in public service that you wish you had known from the very beginning?

In hindsight, my advice to my younger self would have been to be less shy and take myself just a little bit less seriously! I grew up in a Navy family and got used to moving to a new school at the end of every year. That drove me to focus more on my studies, sometimes at the cost of building more close friendships. In the years since then, I’ve heard from many of the people who I went to school with, and they are consistently really kind and interesting. I wish I had gotten to know them better in my earlier years!

What were you told that you wish you hadn’t listened to?

As for bad advice, I’ve told my daughters for years to watch out anytime someone tells you “don’t worry your pretty little head.” It often means pay attention because trouble may be coming.

This story is part of How We’ll Win in 2019, a year-long exploration of workplace gender equality. Read more stories here