A post by organizational psychologist Adam Grant regarding women in the workplace being “dominant” versus being called “assertive” has been going viral.
Here’s my issue with the post. I chafe at the usage of the word “dominant” here.
It’s one thing to say that women who advocate for themselves are “assertive.” But Grant uses the language that women who do this are in fact “dominant” if you look at the last line of his post.
He already states that women are liked less for these traits. (By the way I really don’t care if you like me.) Is that what Grant is saying is a key for success for women? I’m not so sure that men care so much about likability in the workplace.
A woman who is assertive, direct, expresses her ideas and stands up for what she believes is NOT “dominant.”
Also this language would NEVER be used to describe a man.
I’m a huge fan of Adam Grant but women already have so much work to do when it comes to gender equality, and I don’t want to be called dominant/aggressive/strong or whatever other adjective others want to associate with me having to work harder to prove myself and my abilities, and get a real seat at the table.
These are deeply ingrained stereotypes about assertive women being “dominant” that we need to work on together.
Many women have dealt with these issues for far too long – as well as manologues and mansplaining.
And by the way some of the harshest examples I’ve had of this kind of behavior has come from other women where I’ve been told to be quiet in meetings, so there are complicated issues we still need to address among our own gender.
What we need are more real allies willing to help women overcome the systemic challenges we face in the workplace and who are willing to work at removing ingrained stereotypes.
But please don’t call me dominant. Let’s make this a teaching moment and let’s choose our words carefully in every social media post.