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Ariadna Cebrián | 34 comments Yesterday, at work, I had to write an email that I thought it could sound a little "territorial", since I was defending a certain way of doing a task in my department, the way that for me works best. Since I work in an English-spoken company and English is not my first language, I asked my native colleague to correct it. He said that I exposed my point very well, he corrected me a few mistakes, and deleted an entire sentence, that was "I don't know if that makes any sense".

I felt that I had to write that explanation in order to avoid sounding like a spoiled child, defending my way of doing my job. This could be, obviously, an aspect of my personality (I'm shy, I use to avoid confrontation...), but it could be also something related to my education in a patriarchal system, couldn't it? So I felt like Jennifer Lawrence said in her article to Lenny:

"But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.” This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? We’ve only been able to vote for what, 90 years? I’m seriously asking — my phone is on the counter and I’m on the couch, so a calculator is obviously out of the question. Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t “offend” or “scare” men?"

I remembered an article I read a few weeks ago (and couldn't find anymore, I think it was on Linkedin) talking about school participation in class. It turns out that girls need to feel 80% sure about what they're going to say before participate in class discussions, while boys talk when they're around 20% sure about it. It seemed inherent.

I also remembered that Pantene commercial about what I think is an extended behaviour in women, "Sorry not sorry":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73-3...
(Of course the commercial has points that we could criticize, it's a commercial, for a brand, but I think you can get the idea).

Well, I know I'm exposing different things right now, but I think they're related. What do you think about that? Do you feel the same sometimes? Is it because or education? Or is a trend of our female disposition?


message 2: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments I think Sheryl Sandberg writes very well about statistics around how women (average) apply for jobs differently than men, how they react to applying for higher positions, etc.

I believe we are also taught (average woman) to apologise for our behaviour a lot more than men are, as we aren't supposed to be "aggressive" aka bossy (whereas men show leadership skills) or take more space than is ours, we shouldn't be too loud because it isn't feminine and lots of other similar nonsense.

It starts with girls becoming "tomboys" due to climbing too many trees, stereotypically put. While a lot of this is stereotypical of course, we do have to look at averages, and fewer women are "pushy" and "demanding" at work.

I still hear that when I speak frankly, it is surprising to men (and women alike), which in turn surprises me, because they often speak bluntly as a way to economise communication. Yet when I'm efficient and stop beating around the bush, it's shocking.

I also know many, many more women, who question their knowledge, compared to men, who often seem to just wing it. But they have this air of confidence that makes them look credible sources of information. (And afterwards sometimes they confess they just hoped for the best.)


message 3: by Heide (new)

Heide | 135 comments I can totally relate to the video and what you wrote, Ariadna. I recognized this behaviour at myself, too, and I'm actively trying to unlearn it. I think it's because, unfortunately, girls are socialized to mistrust their own abilities and to be afraid to demand anything. They should be satisfied with whatever they get.


message 4: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 4 comments This is very much a learned behavior, reinforced by our society, which says that women should be submissive; but that means it's a behavior we can un-learn. For instance, when I write emails, I always go back and revise it to take out "sorry," "perhaps," "in my opinion," etc. All those little qualifiers that make me sound less confident and diminish my authority. It's harder to do in person, but if we persist we can gradually change these habits.


Ariadna Cebrián | 34 comments Thank you all for your contributions!

I also think that it's a learned behavior, through education, society, cultural representations... I think we must do something to change if we feel uncomfortable defending ourselves in any issue. I mean, I don't want to feel guilty or spoiled or whatever! I want to be strong and confident, but when I try it I sound angry or even a little rude. I think it's because people is not used to, since I always stay back. For me it's difficult to find a balance between being nice and likable and confident and defending my points.


message 6: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Ariadna wrote: "Thank you all for your contributions!

I also think that it's a learned behavior, through education, society, cultural representations... I think we must do something to change if we feel uncomfort..."


Just keep practicing :) You don't have to raise your voice or be aggressive to be heard, just think of Gandhi or Mother Theresa to mention two, whose influence is known globally. Then compare to loud and obnoxious Trump, whose rhetoric is very in your face; which style appeals more to the average person? I think the former.


message 7: by Susan (last edited Mar 03, 2016 06:20AM) (new)

Susan | 13 comments I feel fortunate that I've had parents and teachers that never held me back. I was taught to never begin a statement with a weak "clarifier"...such as "this may sound odd", or "I'm not sure, but", for these kind of prefaces weaken your whole being....say/speak your ideas, contributions and thoughts and then be open to discussion on whether it is valid and why/why not it is valid. Little nuances of confidence are our own barriers to overcome while also trying to not become "cocky" or an asshole. Male or female... I have heard people interpret me as being "aloof" sometimes ( of course this is always behind my back and has to come to me from a co-worker that likes me..or maybe they don't...haha) and I interpret that as their problem, not mine because in the workplace I am focused and confident and not giggly and social, if I'm considered "aloof" to you, come talk to me about it. I do find humble mannerisms quite refreshing and I'm more inclined to follow someone for their "quality" of thinking rather than quality of "confidence". I believe working on content and substance, both professionally and socially is the ultimate goal...and balancing out humility with confidence is often a tightrope...for males and females.


message 8: by Luciana (last edited Mar 03, 2016 07:25PM) (new)

Luciana Carvalho This is an great topic! Sometimes I tend to be very direct and straight forward with my opinions and people not always get that right or feel attacked. I usually work with people that accept well my behavior and we all think it is constructive, but I already had some problem for being "too direct", but I honestly think that if I was a men I wouldn't have the same problem.


message 9: by Bunny (new)

Bunny I have read some interesting essays recently about how if women tend to underestimate their abilities or be too humble or retiring, men tend to have the opposite problem, they are too prone to overestimate what they can do and to dominate conversations so no one else can get a word in edgewise. So the goal should really not be to go so far that we start making the opposite mistake, but rather find a good balance.

Also different situations call for different levels of directness or forcefulness. It's important to recognize that some of the traditionally female ways include good skills to have in certain situations. They aren't always about being weak sometimes they are about making room for other people and not taking over. We shouldn't turn our back on them, but rather both genders should learn to have a wider range of choices for how they act depending on what is needed in a particular case.

Unfortunately it is also true that women also often face backlash if they express themselves forcefully. Which is a real catch-22. If you aren't forceful then you aren't a leader and aren't putting yourself forward and etc etc etc. But if you are, then you are abrasive, and shrill and bitchy and... Etc etc etc. It can be challenging to thread the eye of that particular needle.


message 10: by Ariadna Cebrián (new)

Ariadna Cebrián | 34 comments Thank you all for contribute! :) It's a pity that we could feel this contradiction and even guiltiness inside when we stand for ourselves.

@Bunny, if you have this essays I would love lo read them, it's an interesting subject.


message 11: by Jodi (new)

Jodi  (gingerbreadgirl) | 9 comments Women are taught and conditioned to be more quiet and subservient from the time they are little girls!

I've worked in the education system for over ten years and I have my own experiences as well as continuing Ed as a teacher and later administrator to refer to. There are so many ways girls are taught that they are unequal to boys.

First of all, the very qualities that girls are praised for are things like being quiet, well behaved, cooperative, neat. Meanwhile boys are encouraged to be leaders, think independently, be active and speak up. I read an article so where that said little girls are generally reprimanded more often for speaking out of turn or without a raised hand, while boys are more encouraged to speak up.

There was a study in 2001 where researcher Reay found that a group of girls within the classroom characterized by their outspokenness and love of " girl power" we're seen by the teachers as being "real bitches." Basically their assertiveness was a negative while boys are praised for the same characteristics. This was third grade btw.

I also read that boys are recommended twice as often to be tested as gifted, because giftedness stands out as an aberration and girls learn early to conform.

I can tell you from personal experience that girls are labeled as tattletales while boys are taken more seriously.

And my number one pet peeve in the way adults treat children: any time a little boy teases a girl... Pinches her, pulls her hair, or even kisses her against her will, what is the first thing some adult says? He must like you! WHY DO WE TEACH WOMEN FROM THE EARLIEST AGE OF SOCIALIZATION THAT UNWANTED BODY CONTACT OR EVEN VIOLENCE IS POSITIVE MALE ATTENTION?? And not to speak up about it? He pushed you? He tripped you? He says mean things? awwwwwwww he likes you. Don't complain, be happy!

Yeah women are taught from the beginning: speaking out makes you a bitch.


message 12: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Ariadna wrote: "@Bunny, if you have this essays I would love lo read the..."

Here's one with some links Ariadna. I will see if I can find some of the others,

http://shriverreport.org/confidence-i...


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan | 13 comments Gingerbread Girl wrote: "Women are taught and conditioned to be more quiet and subservient from the time they are little girls!

I've worked in the education system for over ten years and I have my own experiences as well ..."


As an educator myself, I have not witnessed the "conditioned to be more quiet" inequalities you speak of for boys and girls. With multiple moves, I've worked in rural and urban and suburban settings and while there always seems to be one or two bad apple teachers, the majority are conscientious in being progressive and fair.

Teacher evaluations are even closely monitored to make sure they "call" on girls/boys equally.

I feel it's especially important for parents and educators to be mindful of personal comments to maintain gender neutrality with impressionable children and for the system to find a way to immediately remove those bad apple teachers or principals I spoke of above.


message 14: by Jodi (new)

Jodi  (gingerbreadgirl) | 9 comments Well I'm glad to hear that there are more standards in place at higher education levels. Unfortunately that doesn't happen in early education, at least not yet. I most definitely see a lot of "boys will be boys" comments. Kids at 4 and 5 are very active with shorter attention spans, but I hear a lot of teachers label an outspoken girl as "wild." Yet one of the most famous comments I heard about male students was, "He is ALL boy."

A lot of it comes down to more lax standards for teacher education in early Ed. It is headed in the right direction but I just really believe we need to start empowering girls at these early ages.


message 15: by Jodi (new)

Jodi  (gingerbreadgirl) | 9 comments Well I'm glad to hear that there are more standards in place at higher education levels. Unfortunately that doesn't happen in early education, at least not yet. I most definitely see a lot of "boys will be boys" comments. Kids at 4 and 5 are very active with shorter attention spans, but I hear a lot of teachers label an outspoken girl as "wild." Yet one of the most famous comments I heard about male students was, "He is ALL boy."

A lot of it comes down to more lax standards for teacher education in early Ed. It is headed in the right direction but I just really believe we need to start empowering girls at these early ages.


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