Since 2015, Chanel Miller has been known to the world as “Emily Doe,” the sexual assault survivor at the center of the Stanford University Brock Turner sexual assault case. Now the author of Know My Name is telling her story under her own name—and has come to terms with who “Emily Doe” is.
“Emily Doe has evolved for me over the years,” Miller said onstage in her first public interview at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday. “In the beginning, she was a separate identity who I didn’t want to affiliate myself with.” After she started hearing from people who were inspired by her viral victim impact statement, which she read in court, Miller says she learned to “absorb these compliments and become these things and really believe it for myself. That’s who Emily Doe became.”
After revealing her identity in September, Miller is now giving herself—and others—a voice. Her memoir Know My Name details the 2015 sexual assault by Turner, which saw national news coverage largely focusing on Turner’s history as an athlete and his point of view; Miller, as she protected her identity, was unable to share her perspective outside of what happened in court. Miller said that she was generally quiet and shy but, through the experience of the past four years, has gained the confidence to take a conference stage.
Miller was nervous to come forward under her own name, largely out of concern for her privacy and safety. But she said the feeling of being alone—unable to share her experience or interact with others about it—was a key factor in taking the leap.
“Keeping a secret can be really isolating, especially when 18 million people can discuss your secret but you can’t,” Miller said. “I felt like I was changing, I was on this whole transformative narrative arc, and the way people perceive me felt outdated—like they were identifying with my past self.”
Miller still has boundaries: no public book tour, limited speaking engagements. “There’s no timeline,” she says.
But making the decision to reveal her name, her personality, and her perspective has been worth it. “I don’t want to write a book that’s very bound up,” she says. “I had to teach myself over time that I didn’t have to be ashamed of my past life experiences—I owed it to other survivors to include everything.”More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Leadership lessons from a Deloitte partner who rac
When it comes to gender and sport, not all wins are created equal.
“It’s a very interesting kind of space for you when you talk about winning prize money, and the prize money is not the same as the man that’s standing next to you on the podium,” Jessi Miley-Dyer, ex-pro surfer and current World Surf League vice president, said at Fortune‘s 2019 Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Tuesday.
Miley-Dyer was part of a small group of female professional surfers who worked to bring pay equity to their sport. It was a multi-year strategy that paid off spectacularly in 2018, when the World Surf League (WSL) agreed to become the first U.S.-based sports organization of any type to offer equal pay for every competitor, regardless of gender, around the globe.
It felt like they were part of a bigger movement, said Miley-Dyer.
“There are so many women in the world now that are fighting for those things [pay equity]. And we really wanted to be like a leader in the space,” she said.
Miley-Dyer turned out to be an unexpected advocate: “For me as an ex-pro surfer, to be here and be telling you that surfing of all the sports is a leader in gender equality…I would have laughed at you told if me that when I was a kid.”
Alysia Montaño, the Olympian and seven-time USA 800 meter champion, understands how this kind of slow, patient advocacy can and should work.
Montaño, who became widely known as the “pregnant runner” after she ran a USA Track & Field qualifying round at 34 weeks, risked her sponsorship and legal action when the then Nike-paid athlete cooperated with a New York Times story that told the truth: Pregnant athletes lost their paychecks. It took two years before the Fortune 40 Under 40 honoree was willing to talk on the record. “There was the nondisclosure agreement, but I knew the conversation could open doors in terms of equality and maternal health,” she said.
On stage, Montaño was unsparing in her recollection of the risks she took to keep getting paid.
After her abdominal muscles split post-partum, she had to tape them just to compete. She was also a breastfeeding mother. “I’m the one that’s going to be feeding my family and the family that I started,” she said. “It was a space of loneliness, of space, of darkness.”
When asked what fans and supporters could do to support equity in professional sports, Montaño said ev