Introducing The She-Suite™ Club

The Exclusive Empowerment Community for Leading Women

When Women win, we all win.
Join the movement today.

She-Suite™ Club Logo

Have you hit the “glass ceiling” so many times, it feels as if the top of your head is flat? Has your journey through the executive ranks seem to have stalled out? Are your dedication and hard work going unrewarded? Are you feeling underappreciated or misunderstood in the workplace? If so…welcome to The Club!

“This is THE place, where like-minded, executive-minded, forward-thinking women come to communicate—collaborate—and celebrate everything that it means to be a career-focused woman in a male-dominated work environment. This isn’t about ‘us vs. them.’ This is about us making a name for ourselves—taking a seat, and truly owning that seat, at the executive table—and doing so not as ‘clones’ of men, but as authentic, self-confident, self-empowered women.”

Amanda Blesing

2 x Author; Women’s C-Suite Mentor & Executive Coach; Founder: The She-Suite™ Club

Where empowered women empower other women. Because when women win, everyone wins.

Avoiding the cliché: how narrow female stereotypes are used to undermine woman in leadership

She’s so bossy! She’s too emotional! Look what she’s wearing!

Sound familiar? There are countless negative stereotypes female leaders face, almost all of which have nothing to do with their leadership. While some leaders may play into the stereotypes, others will do everything in their power to avoid assumptions and overcome prejudice.

In psychology, there are three stereotype phenomena – the stereotype effect, the stereotype threat and the stereotype tax, which provide an interesting case study when applied to women in leadership. Here’s what I’ve learned about stereotypes, and we can overcome them – or even use them to your advantage!

AN UNTIMELY REMINDER: THE STEREOTYPE EFFECT

I recently read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled Are power pearls the new padded shoulders? discussing the pearl earrings the NSW and QLD premiers had been wearing.

My first thought? “You’ve got to be kidding me! In a time when there is so much on the line for our leaders, who cares what they’re wearing?!”

When women are reminded of their femininity in a way that plays to a negative stereotype it undermines their performance, distracts from their leadership, and diminishes their credibility. This is what’s known as the stereotype effect.

Instead of reminding female leaders that they need to pick the kids up from school or that their clothing choices “attract attention”, we should be reminding them of their strategic approach, insightful ideas, and leadership capability.

Female leaders must also stand their ground and not feel pressured to conform to negative female stereotypes – remember, it’s ok to be feminine – in fact when women feel like they are able to lead like women, we’ll all be better off.

Lead like a leading woman, not like a man

PLAYING DEFENCE: THE STEREOTYPE THREAT

On the opposite end of the spectrum, instead of playing to a stereotype, sometimes female leaders are so afraid of being labelled feminine, that they’ll do anything to avoid confirming this.

I once worked with a female executive who was having trouble feeling heard in her organisation. It turns out that she was so afraid of being labelled “bossy” or “difficult” that she rarely claimed her space or even stood her ground in meetings. As a result her team did not respect her or her position, because she had unconsciously shown them that she could be walked all over. With the threat of a negative female leadership stereotype, she unconsciously self-sabotaged and under-performed.

When someone tries so hard to avoid a stereotype, their performance suffers because they’re too busy not being one thing that they miss out on showing all their other qualities. The threat can also impact us when we compare ourselves to a perceived positive stereotype. In one study, Caucasian men, usually at the top of the societal hierarchy, underperformed mathematically when they were told their performance would be compared to that of Asian men, because they assumed that their competitors would be better than them. 

In order to overcome the stereotype threat, you need to own your own awesome. When you lead with authenticity and confidence, comparisons don’t matter, and fear is diminished. Know your brand, use it to your benefit, and let your capability speak for itself.

Once again, a classic opportunity to embrace the power of the feminine, and lead as yourself.

CALLING THEIR BLUFF: THE STEREOTYPE TAX

Never assume as it makes an ASS out of UME

If you’re tired of being mislabeled and misjudged for being female, there is another option – using the stereotype to your advantage. The stereotype tax is based on the notion that individuals pay a “tax” when they make assumptions based on stereotypes. If the person whom the assumptions are about is aware of this prejudice, they can use it to their advantage.

A great example of this comes from professional poker player, Annie Duke. The only female in the 2004 World Series of Poker Championship, Annie knew her male contestants underestimated her. Instead of trying to prove them wrong, she played into the narrow negative stereotype of a helpless woman to catch them off guard. The outcome? Annie went on to win the competition and took home a cool USD$2MIL.

Breaking the mould of stereotypes is the only way forward to see women respected as leaders. But, if you’re in an environment where every bit of competitive advantage counts and you’re being underestimated, you may as well make the most of it!

We need leaders in all spaces performing to their best at the moment, which is only possible if we focus on impact and influence, rather than outdated narrow stereotypes. Whether you’re trying your hardest to avoid being pigeon holed, or you’re playing up those clichéd traits to mask your true self, you’ll never have the impact you desire in your leadership if you’re not in touch with your most authentic self.

Own your own awesome, lead with confidence, and be strategic about your goals. And the next time a male journo talks about your pearl earrings, remind them just how much influence you have with or without them.

You May Also Like...

Many women get invited to speak at conferences and events for free.  If you're an executive woman and you are representing your organisation, that's understandable as your company is paying your salary. However for consultants, this is tough.

11 Point Executive
Career Toolkit
Checklist

What My Incredible Clients Have to Say…

Thank you so much Amanda. You have brought out the best of me and put it on a page.

Amanda helped me build my digital brand with a strategic approach that’s aligned to my long-term career goals. I learned to add value and richness to my network and customers, and I have a visibility strategy that is above the line and future-focused!

It’s a blast working with Amanda – I can feel the momentum growing – now a matter of me putting my foot on the pedal to get myself out there in full confidence!

Previous
Next

11 Point Executive Career Toolkit Checklist

To ensure you are never caught out, and are perfectly positioned
to put your best foot forward in your career, every time.

11 Point Executive Career
Toolkit Checklist

To ensure you are never caught out, and are perfectly positioned to put your best foot forward in your career, every time.

Terms of Service

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam quis ex ac quam pretium gravida. Aliquam in lacus felis. Vivamus vitae tempus velit. Morbi congue sem sit amet blandit sodales. Mauris vitae nunc sit amet sem luctus maximus eu in augue. Vestibulum nisl diam, malesuada nec tincidunt sit amet, molestie vitae nibh. Morbi aliquet vulputate lorem quis viverra. Etiam pharetra nec urna volutpat maximus. Duis at purus et lorem sollicitudin pellentesque sit amet at ipsum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut pharetra lectus sit amet elit auctor lacinia. Mauris semper lobortis est, at sagittis enim euismod eget.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy has been compiled to better serve those who are concerned with how their ‘Personally Identifiable Information’ (PII) is being used online. PII, as described in US privacy law and information security, is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context.

 

Please read our privacy policy carefully to get a clear understanding of how we collect, use, protect or otherwise handle your Personally Identifiable Information in accordance with our website.

 

What personal information do we collect from the people that visit our blog, website or app?

 

When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your name, email address or other details to help you with your experience.

 

When do we collect information?

 

We collect information from you when you register on our site, place an order, subscribe to a newsletter, Use Live Chat, Open a Support Ticket or enter information on our site.

 

How do we use your information?

 

We may use the information we collect from you when you register, make a purchase, sign up for our newsletter, respond to a survey or marketing communication, surf the website, or use certain other site features in the following ways:

 

• To personalize your experience and to allow us to deliver the type of content and product offerings in which you are most interested.

• To improve our website in order to better serve you.

• To allow us to better service you in responding to your customer service requests.

• To quickly process your transactions.

• To send periodic emails regarding your order or other products and services.

• To follow up with them after correspondence (live chat, email or phone inquiries)