In today’s society, there are more women in leadership roles than ever before. Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, states have female legislators, judges and governors, and on local levels, cities have female mayors and council members. We even had the opportunity to cast our ballots for a female president in 2016! So why is it that today’s women still struggle with their identities in leadership roles?
My personality is BIG. I am sometimes too blunt, sometimes too honest and sometimes too sarcastic. I’m also opinionated. I’ve been told by my husband (and my parents) that I can sometimes be stubborn. But I’m also open-minded. If you talk to me and explain your stance to me, I may not always switch sides, but I can at least appreciate your opinion (and your right to your opinion).
With a lot on my mind and my to-do list, I don’t always take the time to sugarcoat things. I very rarely have malicious intent if I come across as rude. I find myself apologizing before I even speak. Almost like I’m giving a disclaimer to the words I’m about to say. “I don’t mean this b****y but…” or “This may sound rude, but it’s not meant that way…”
I was recently talking with another female in a leadership role, and we were discussing how we have to worry about perception. It’s not what we say, or sometimes even how we say things… but sometimes, it’s how it’s perceived that makes the difference.
She mentioned an example where she was explaining some job tasks to an employee and has even gone as far as making task lists for a male in the company. To make a long story short, she made the list for him and he didn’t do it, so ultimately, she ended up doing the task. She wasted time making the list and then doing his task when he should have been responsible enough to do it himself. After she coached him on this and explained to him what a time-waste it was, he said she could sometimes be mean.
I’m just going to state this as plainly as I know how. I am almost 1,000 percent certain that if her genitals were different, that would have never been said to her.
She has worked her way into a leadership role, proven herself as someone who can be trusted and depended on to get the job done, and yet, her pointing out that someone is wasting her time makes her mean?
I’m in a leadership role in a predominately male civic organization. I struggle EVERY time I open my mouth during a meeting with the fear that I’m going to be dismissed because I’m female (or because I’m one of the younger members).
I want to be perfectly clear with this next statement: This is not a struggle that I have because of a previous incident… but it’s an internal struggle that I put upon myself. There have been small instances where I felt my opinion didn’t matter, but I don’t think in those instances it had anything to do with my gender but more to do with the other person’s personality.
I’m exhausted by the constant battle going on in my head to determine if I should or shouldn’t speak up. Women have voices that should be heard. We shouldn’t have to apologize for being too loud, too opinionated, too (insert word here).
It’s hard enough for women to feel adequate when dealing with men, but then we also have to worry about the constant barrage of insults and judgement from other women. We should be sticking together and building each other up, not tearing each other down. And goodness gracious, do I know I’m guilty of this (hey, I never said I was perfect!).
We beat ourselves up enough (my roots are showing, these pants make me look fat, and the list goes on…), why are we doing it to others? Guess what? I’m aware that I can be a little opinionated—and when I hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize and I try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Constantly reminding me of that shortcoming doesn’t make me want to improve…it makes me want to scream!
I’m the first to admit, I can come across as a “Negative Nancy.” I’m that girl that always goes worst case scenario. If you tell me that you have this opportunity, I’m going to say, “Oh that’s great! But what about ______.” I’m not trying to be negative; my goal is to make sure you have considered ALL possibilities.
Honestly, women struggle enough to live up to our own standards and to fight against stereotypes, pay gaps and societal expectations, let’s cut each other some slack.
And how about we start cutting ourselves some slack? Stop feeling like you have to live up to every beauty blogger’s makeup tutorial or that those jeans should fit you like they fit the model. Get out of your own head and stop discounting your intelligence and your opinions. Stand up for yourself…even if it’s to yourself. Bust through those stereotypes, don’t worry about what others think of you (unless your job depends on it) and kick ass, girlfriend!