“Teach your daughters to resolve conflicts, take risks, tout their strengths and “check your good girl at the door,” writes Rachel Simmons in her book, The Curse of the Good Girl.
Gender stereotypes start young.
Instead of taking risks and honing their leadership skills young women unwittingly sabotage their success by questioning their abilities and diminishing their potential, explains Leslie Mann in her article, Family duties make women executives prone to depression: study. “The result is a ‘psychological glass ceiling.'”
So, say good-bye to the nice girl. But let’s be clear, the not-nice girl isn’t the often mis-labeled bitch.
Bitches have nothing to do with corporate America, although you might find one there or down the street or in the grocery store. A bitch is, pure and simple, a personality that can crop up anywhere, but she’s not the assertive, confident, authoritative woman doing her job. Bitches are aggressive, petty, underhanded, mean-spirited, back-stabbing and so it turns out, bitches are also men.
“Definitions of “feminine” and “masculine” must change, Pudrovska said. “When women in authority are assertive, dominant, powerful and confident, they’re viewed as unfeminine,” she said. “Men don’t have this conflict; these are ‘masculine’ traits.”
Women with a firm confident demeanor are sometimes seen as having “some nerve.”
Indeed, it takes some nerve to speak up. Assertive women exude authority, they challenge long-held gender expectations and status quo. Status quo is cozy comfy predictable, it tells us how we “should” operate as boys and girls in society.
But no one ever changed anything worth changing by staying within the confines of “should.”
In other words, as the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history, or get the corner office.
Successful women don’t speak in meek diminutive tones, nor do they yell or bull-doze over everyone else in the room.
I have what I think is a pleasant enough and also firm voice. No whispering mouse lives inside my voice box (anymore I kicked her out decades ago). I speak politely but with an audible strong tone if I have something meaningful to offer in meetings. I challenge points diplomatically. And if I make someone uncomfortable with my “masculine” qualities that individual needs to ask why what his or her male peers exude is threatening, only when I do it.
“Women excel at compassion and empathy, which complicates their leadership roles, Breathed said. ‘When men get to positions of authority, they’re like the chest-beating silverback gorillas; they’ve made it!” she said. “But women say, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to fire a woman with two kids.'”
I respect businessman who exhibit among other traits, “female” qualities (known typically as empathy, compassion). I don’t see this as lacking the cojones to be effective leaders. When the hammer has to come down then they bring it down, until then, they listen to the human at the other end of their desk.
Ultimately, business men and women can learn from each other by recognizing the value of “male” and “female” traits and when best to use them.