I Am Women…Hear Me ROAR

I stand alone....

“We know that you’re good at your position, but you may want to tone it down a bit. You’re being perceived as bossy, aggressive and personally, folks just don’t like you”. This is a statement that was made to me a few years back as I entered my first professional position in the field of education. Apparently, some of the seasoned male counterparts were not thrilled with having a young black female leading the initiatives of the department. Granted I applied, interviewed and (rightfully so) was offered the position due in part to my qualifications; but still I was not considered worthy in the male dominated culture. Since there were no valid grounds for complaints, a few were determined to make my work life as difficult as possible with the hope that I would resign. Sadly for them, I had no intentions of leaving, and as a matter of fact, was just embarking on my journey.

Booysen and Nkomo’s (2010) theory suggests that an individual’s gender affects their social location and as a direct result their outlook on leadership. This couldn’t be a more accurate statement; for since my identity is rooted in the traditional female gender, I wouldn’t have a male outlook on leadership. This is problematic in cultures that foster a more traditional or “great man” leadership style, especially if it encompasses more male associated characteristics (i.e. aggressive, decisive, etc.). Since I consider myself a transformational leader, my method of leading could also cause tension between genders in the workplace; for females would consider me a change agent, while men feel outcaste due to my gender association.

You must stand out from the rest!

I’ve often wondered how I would be perceived if I were a male. Would the same qualities i.e., determination, commitment, assertiveness, good organizational skills, and ability to complete the task at hand be considered as aggressive? It’s unfortunate that “gender” was the underlining attribute seen by my male employees, instead of the leadership qualities that I brought to the table. While gender my play a role in the development of leadership styles, it does not prevent women from being capable leaders. I believe that our identified “sex role” spills over into how we interact, behave, and lead. However, one would think that leadership qualities were just that…qualities (whether male or female) of those who effectively and successfully lead others. Anecdotaly, men occupy the majority of leadership positions in this country; but, the tide is turning as the number of women leaders in prominent positions continue to rise.

Despite being judged and/or viewed through gender lenses, my determination to prove that I am not merely an example of Affirmative Action, but a woman who can successfully lead an organization. Although the transformational journey set before me is not an easy one, I will shatter the “glass ceiling” and achieve my destiny.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] “We know that you’re good at your position, but you may want to tone it down a bit. You’re being perceived as bossy, aggressive and personally, folks just don’t like you.” This is a statement that was made to me a few years back as I entered my first professional position in the field of education. Apparently, some of the seasoned male counterparts were not thrilled with having a young black female leading the initiatives of the department.  Read More […]

  2. 2

    In the end male or female doesn’t matter that much. It all depends on the authenticity of the person. If a women shows that she is authentic as a leader and connect with other people on the heart level, black, white, female, male is all the same. Don’t try or push too hard, people will challenge you to push harder, rather become more authentic and people will follow you.


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