Above All, Be Brave–When Women Take Risks

This week, I’m writing about brave women in honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Meet Professor Alexandra Juhasz. She began teaching a class about YouTube in 2007. Colleagues frowned. Journalists howled her down. TechCrunch, the popular blog, said it might be the “most ridiculous class any college had ever offered.”

But Ms. Juhasz persisted, believing that her media studies students needed to understand the working mechanics of the media they were critiquing. The result is a genre-bending idea—video books.

Her invention got traction when MIT Press released Learning From YouTube, a free “video book” written by Ms. Juhasz. It’s the first time MIT press has published an online-only book. Equally cool is that it’s helping developers build a new platform for authorship that they hope will be used for more such works.

We want to be safe. We want to protect ourselves from peer criticism. Worse, we pull back when the nay-sayers ridicule our ideas. For women, shame is a form of control. We’ve been raised to derive our sense of self-worth from what others think.

What if we re-write the equation?

What if the measure of our success comes from within, not without?

Cleary, Professor Juhasz felt it was more important to be brave, than be successful. And the outcome? She accomplished both.