I have written several blogs about the value of being authentic. I find that the truer I am to myself and my own beliefs, the more believable I am to others. There is not only a sense of freedom that accompanies honesty but also, perhaps, a guarantee that you won’t get stereotyped. In this article, Jenna Goudreau interviewed some of today’s most powerful women business leaders to examine their least favorite stereotypes. I’ve highlighted the 10 worst here:
- Ice Queen
The ruthless “ice queen” stereotype is rampant. “For many women, it can be a no-win situation,” says Halley Bock, CEO of leadership and development training company Fierce.
- Single and Lonely
Men get to be “bachelors” while women are reduced to “spinsters” and “old-maids.”
The first female executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, must contend with being called “tough” and “brusque,” making the “she’s-tough stereotype” her least favorite.
Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla believes the most pervasive stereotype is that women are “weak,” a perception that may stem from a greater desire for women to build consensus.
The notion that powerful women must be, lead and look like a man really aggravates Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
NBC’s Ann Curry says the stereotype that most offends her is “the idea that a woman can only be successful because she somehow connived or engineered her rise.”
Former Yahoo Chief Carol Bartz is frequently cited for her “salty language,” which has been used as evidence that she is “emotional” and a “loose cannon.”
“Anger is a sign of status in men, but when women show anger they are viewed as less competent,” says Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.
- A Token
Women hold just 16 percent of corporate board seats. But instead of focusing on balancing things out, they are often devalued as being a “token” of diversity rather than having earned the post.
- A Cheerleader
Billie Blair, president and CEO of Change Strategists, notes that prominent women who are considered feminine and warm may be dismissed as “cheerleaders” rather than the strong leaders that they are.
These stereotypes are examples of how many women in power can become pigeonholed. What is your “image” and how are you managing your brand? Read my blog “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Remain Authentic,” for some useful tips.