October 3, 2017

Women in Leadership Meeting Recap: Walking the Gender Tightrope

We had a great discussion at last week’s Women in Leadership meeting as Jacqie Lind Unsplashfacilitated on Walking the Gender Tightrope. Research suggests that both women and men punish women for violating gender-role stereotypes. As a result, women hold themselves back, consequently, making it seem as though men are the better fit for leadership positions. 

Women leaders are often faced with the challenge of being perceived either as bossy or too nice; and it’s a tightrope we walk every day. In one instance, if we speak our minds, we are too assertive or aggressive; however, on the other hand if we don’t speak our minds, we are criticized for being too soft spoken or timid. A man can virtually say the same thing as a woman, and everyone will nod their head in appreciation for his great idea. So, what are some things we can do to help break down these stereotypes and ensure that women’s voices are heard.

Embrace Your Confidence

While there are many ways to hone in on and find your confidence, the first thing we practiced at our meeting was our “Power Pose”. As popularized by Amy Cuddy, power posing is a tactic that can be used to boost your confidence. This means standing with your arms spread wide in the air or on your hips and chest puffed. This position is also associated with being a champion and you may notice this as people cross the finish line when they have won a race. Placing yourself in this stance for two minutes before a big presentation may help you feel more confident and give you a competitive edge.

Language and Tone

Another thing we can do is watch our tone through speaking authoritatively. Try to keep a nice, even tone, and don’t rush when you’re talking – pace yourself. Another good reminder brought up in our discussion was to not minimize what you are saying. Words and phrases like “just” or “in my opinion” make it seem as though you are not confident in what you are trying to say, so you are qualifying it in case you’re wrong. Leaving these words out will leave a greater impression and make it more likely that your audience will take you seriously.


Overall, we learned that there is a new “B -word” in town and it’s “Balance.” Finding the balance between strength and communication style, while being self-aware, will be the most effective to help break down these stereotypes.

What are some things you do to boost your confidence and make sure your voice is heard? 

Posted by: Anna Wischmann

Tags:  Women in Leadership

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