Women Scared To Appear Bossy, Assertive

According to an online survey Deloitte Global conducted in February and March of more than 1,700 professionals, 65 percent believe their organization is improving representation of senior women thanks to flexible work programs, gender diversity targets and executive commitment.

But, while 80 percent of respondents believe ideas were welcomed in their organizations regardless of gender, 40 percent said they occasionally hold back their opinions to avoid being labelled bossy or appearing too assertive.

That’s sad, but it makes sense. To be a woman with an opinion is often synonymous with the bossy label. It’s almost like a woman can’t have an opinion without someone, male or female, qualifying it in some way.

This is common knowledge for women on the rise, so it makes sense the survey also revealed the majority of respondents believe self-confidence (78 percent) is more important than technical ability (22 percent) for professional success.

But that stat creates its own conundrum, as women who are self-confident tend to have more opinions or aren’t afraid to share them — thus they may be labeled bossy, which may hinder their chances of being successful.

The survey also found when it comes to sustaining personal and professional excellence, 68 percent of respondents believe it is possible to ‘have it all.’ Note, there were no qualifications offered with this statement, but in real life, there probably are a lot of variables that need to be in play to actually achieve “it all.” A sentiment Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte’s U.S. CEO seemed to confirm.

“It is important that women have the opportunity to balance different priorities at different stages in their career,” she saidduring Deloitte Global’s International Women’s Day webcast about the data. “A large part of my career achievements are due to having the courage to ask for what I needed whether in a professional or personal context. Mentors and sponsors, particularly in the early stages of my career were invaluable to me because they encouraged me to raise my hand, and take opportunities to build my capabilities.”