Let’s just say it - getting fired is a swift, hard kick to your... ego (no matter how much you disliked the job). When I was “terminated” from a role at a non-profit because of personality differences between me and the founder, I found myself questioning my worth, ability, skills, but mostly, my personality and how others perceived me.
Though I was committed to seeing my work through, even despite the personality contrasts and the daily barrage of poorly executed management, I was willing to roll up my sleeves and work. That was until I was told my tone was “too strong” or that when I attempted to take leadership I wasn’t acting “collaboratively.”
Being a strong female is a challenge. Full stop. From challenges in dating people who don’t value and are intimidated by being a self-assured, independent, and assertive female, to workplaces where putting your head down is expected and normalized - these are real factors of being a driven female in our society. (note: I know that my white privilege has allowed me into more spaces than I can count - but being a strong and highly skilled woman in those spaces remains a hurdle).
“While male leaders are allowed to have complex personalities, powerful women are often summed up by hackneyed stereotypes that undermine them and their power.” -Jenna Goudreau, Forbes
The ingrained stereotypes and implicit bias associated with women in the workforce is a salient and relevant issue. Just today, Google, one of the more “progressive” companies, was slammed with gender discrimination lawsuits by three former female employees. And not to forget the infamous memo which blatantly discriminated people of color and women.
The subtle (and not so subtle) sexism in the American workplace is embedded in our daily lives and will not disappear until we confront the root cause - patriarchy. Our society continues to adhere to patriarchal standards that accept power by domination and the submission of those willing to provoke. We continue to subjugate feminine qualities and diminish any individual who deviates from the fabricated gender “norms”.
So when I was let go for being outspoken and questioning when I felt accountability was lacking, I found myself at odds - should I have kept my mouth shut? Should I have said “yes, sir” and followed the pack? Should I have been more soft?
After a couple of days of sulking, I shook off the resentment and started something I’ve always thought about doing but never felt empowered enough to do - I started my own business.
Noticed is a boutique communications and strategy firm helping change-makers achieve their goals through messaging, content, and branding. Since I launched the firm at the beginning of August, I have grown from one client to nearly ten, a blessing that is encouraging me every day.
At this point - I figure that the only way to break-free from the gender stereotypes (at least as much as possible), is to be my own boss and to only work with those who are inspired and driven by my ferocity.
Noticed wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been a strong and determined woman, ready and willing to put it all on the line. To refuse to be a subordinate in an environment where my critical-thinking and willingness to ask the tough questions was seen as abrasive and unwelcome.
Each day I remind myself that the change must start within.
To all the working women out there - you are not too strong, you are not inconsiderate or required to be soft and submissive. And if you are working for someone who expects that from you I implore you to rise up, take a leap and forge your own path. I’ll be right next you the whole way.