Uh-oh, this age-old question has reared its head again – as if it ever went away. Can a woman run a company a country or a campaign – and be both likable and powerful at the same time. Take a look at Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Madonna for example… all strong, powerful women – but do you LIKE them?
The question was highlighted in the Forbes magazine blog, Postcards which looked at the different way powerful men and women acted – and how they were judged accordingly. A Stanford University study found that people in positions of power utilize their body language in a way that telegraphs their status. They tended to take up more space, lean back, use sweeping gestures and slow down. And guess what – men act this way far more than women. I’m sure you’ve seen it. I sure have!
Now, I have my own theory. I think it’s because as women we are taught, from a very young age, to “be nice”, the inference being we want people to like us. I think it’s why women, even those struggling to keep the mutiny at bay in their own homes, have problems saying no. “Someone has backed out of the cupcake baking committee and we REALLY need you. Can you do it?” “We know you have your hands full at home but there is no one to take the Thursday shift in the school library. Do you think you could volunteer just 50 minutes a week?” And you know what we do? We relent, because we want people to like us and are overly concerned with how we will be perceived. Those waters run deep and I believe some of that is present in powerful women. They know they need to be tough but are ambivalent because they know a strong woman is perceived as being a bitch.
Of course I have no scientific data to back that up, that’s only my opinion.
But what do you think? Can women be powerful and likeable at the same time? Name some names… and do you think there is any truth to my own theory?
Okay, lemme hear ya!