Nineteen. That’s how many times, in a recent 30-minute team meeting, I heard a woman say “just.”
“I just think we can …” “I’m just checking …” “I just want to be sure …”
Why was I doing all this counting? Because I recently learned that “just” undermines women’s expertise – and in turn, women’s advancement – at work. Using “just” implicitly conveys asking permission to express authority or an opinion, and can even be characterized as an apology for doing so. Realizing that I and many other smart, talented, accomplished women could be held back – even slightly – at work by a four-letter word made me want to scream, well … a few other four-letter words.