You gotta love when women get the label of “aggressive”, “bossy” or “bitchy” when we take charge, speak up and act assertively. These very characteristics are what society considers to be the inherent qualities of “good leaders” yet when women display them, it can have negative backlash. WTF?!
I feel as though I am constantly walking a tightrope of being direct with people while not coming off as “too aggressive” in fear of being labeled as a “b*tch”. As women, we are heavily judged by our “likeability” and when we display traditional leadership qualities of being confident, outspoken, assertive, etc., we get the label of “office bitch” while our male counterparts get a high five and a promotion. Can anyone else out there relate?
The gender norms limiting women’s ability to advance frustrate the hell out of me and articles like this one coaching women on how to soften their communication to be heard, make me angry. I am not sure how we overcome these barriers if we are constantly tailoring our behaviors to make the people around us more comfortable with the idea of women leading. (Soapbox moment!) Women shouldn’t have to soften their personalities and display nurturing qualities to be liked and advance professionally. Each woman should be celebrated, not tolerated, for leading as her authentic self. This article on FastCompany.com is more my style! It addresses how we can combat these stereotypes and hold our own in challenging work environments.
So how do we move forward from this and influence change? I think about this a lot and I am not sure what the answer is…but perhaps we can start with women supporting other women. I love when I see women I work with take charge, speak up and get things done. In my head I’m yelling “YOU GO GIRL!”, even if I don’t agree with them! Ladies, we need to check our own biases at the door and support one another to combat these stereotypes. I love this video by Emilie Aries, the CEO of Bossed Up, where she breaks down the definitions of aggressive and assertive. Know the difference and be prepared to correct people when they mislabel you or someone else you work with!
“Have the courage to show up and be seen.” – Brene Brown
Chumlee is only aggressive when he wants a bum rub 🙂
Embrace the day!