The Pushy Pushover: Feminism at Work

This post is in honor of the 96th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th amendment and National Women’s Equality Day!

Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no and saying ‘please’ doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission.” –Amy Poehler

Controlling, bossy, overpowering.

Pushover, people-pleasing, weak.

As women, these are often the roles we are told we are allowed to fit into in a professional setting. Talk too much in a meeting? Controlling. Address a flaw with your own idea? Insecure. And, more often than not, we will be assigned both labels depending on whom we report to that day.

Simultaneously being told you’re pushy and a pushover is obviously a super confusing pair of mixed messages to be given within hours of each other. We tell girls they can do and be anything they want but we penalize them when they work for it.

There are studies that suggest men’s voices take up 75% of professional meetings. In the other 25% of the time in which women speak they are often seen as dominating the conversation. Men are 2 times more likely to interrupt women than men. The sad part? Women are 2.5 times more likely to interrupt other women than men. This doesn’t just hold up in testing. Just today, I witnessed a male higher-up interject during my female peer’s presentation to inform her that she “was pretty off base” about her own project proposal.

I always assumed that being a millennial in the year 2016—where social activism and awareness are everywhere you look—that I would never have to deal with sexism at school or in the workplace. Unfortunately, I have had a boy my own age look me in the eye and say he, “honestly just thinks a guy would be able to handle this task better”. To imply or overtly question someone’s abilities because of their gender is outright sexism. I hate that somehow I still need to explain this fact to men and even some women in my life.

I understand that I am truly blessed to be alive nearly 100 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment, because I know I will be able to vote for a woman in my very first presidential election. But I also know I make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. I know I grew up being told I was bossy because I like things done a certain way. I know I will be undermined my entire life for working in pink-collar professions like education and wedding photography. I know it stings way more than I care to admit when a man says I’m not strong, smart, friendly, or capable enough to do the job I love.

So, here are my final suggestions for dealing with the pushy/pushover dichotomy in the workplace:

  1. If you want to be a boss ass woman and #girlboss the hell out of every man in a room, do it.
  2. If you want to be a killer team player who brings everyone donuts and goes above an beyond in every project doing exactly what your team asks of you, do it.

But, for the love of God, don’t change who you are just for the comfort of others.

Oh and this too:

  1. If a man tells you he doesn’t think you’re capable of something because you’re a woman? Kick him in the balls and then ask HIM to have the report in by Friday.





Disclaimer: My editor wants me to point out that you shouldn’t actually physically harm any of the men in your life. Even if he’s being a sexist jerk. Please embrace the angry feminist humor!




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