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How you can challenge the harmful perceptions of female stereotypes in the workplace

July 15, 2018

Our Achieving Your Potential event 'The Myth of the ‘Difficult Woman’' (as featured in Campaign ) highlighted the double bind women face in business every day: traditionally “female” traits are often not seen as leadership qualities, whereas exhibiting more “male” traits can land women in more hot water than their male colleagues; the dreaded “difficult” label is hard to escape.  



So, how can we overcome this?  Here are some easily actionable thought starters on #EverydayAction from the Bloom network:




  1. Be open about your emotions. Celebrate and support others who do so.

  2. Don’t be afraid to embrace anger especially – it can be a motivator and driver of change.

  3. Rock your personal brand– know your differences and strengths and amplify them.

  4. Recognise that you can be nice but still forceful and impactful.

  5. Be challenging in a way that feels authentic to you.



  1. Seek personal feedback from peers and friends to help articulate your strengths.

  2. Call out things that bother you:

    • If goals, meeting agendas, or behaviour in the workplace challenge your values and personality, highlight this.

    • If behaviour supports stereotyping (like women being tasked with a nurturing role), challenge it and draw boundaries.

  3. Ask for a time out in these situations if needed to put yourself in control of your emotions. 



  1. Drop your judgement.  Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy.

  2. Seek forgiveness, not permission.

  3. Accept that there are diverse sets of styles; there is not one female way to lead.

  4. Don’t adopt language about yourself or others that perpetuates the stereotypes: organised, enthusiastic, nurturing, caring too much.

  5. Rebrand “difficult” as “impactful”.

  6. Harness empathy and create supportive environments where your teams can be themselves.

What actions would you recommend? Tell us on Twitter @BloomUK using #EverydayActions

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