International Womens’ Day 2017!

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year, time really does go quicker the older you get! It doesn’t really, but the need to fill your days doing something you love becomes more and more important each year. And so does the need to look after yourself physically, mentally, spiritually and financially.

I wanted to write a post to mark this celebration with a topic that I believe will resonate with any young woman that isn’t naturally that extrovert and cares what others think of her. The ‘Likeability Factor’ has been a bitter sweet subject for me throughout my own career, and has served me well on occasions and other times left me at square one.

Research has found that being likeable is critically important to women. Experience tells us that being liked and being able to negotiate successfully are sometimes a Catch 22.

Several women that I know, have consciously chosen not to ask for a pay rise or command the real value they deserve in setting the right price for a product/service because they are concerned that their reputation is at stake. Getting ahead requires you to ask directly for what you want, so why are so many of us putting it off?

The truth is, as women we fare no better if we don’t self-promote our abilities but we’re faced with the risk of being seen (by men and other women) as ‘aggressive, bossy or over-confident’ if we start to exert more masculine traits. Or, on the other hand ‘too nice, lacking self-esteem and generally unsuited to leadership roles or capable of doing a good job’. 

Joan C. Williams coined this exact challenge ‘The Tightrope’ in her Lean In Video Series where she speaks about women navigating the tightrope and being perceived as ‘too masculine’ (therefore, respected but not liked) or ‘too feminine (therefore liked, but not respected). 

“Unfortunately, research has also revealed that assertive women are less well liked than those who are not assertive. This means that an assertive woman, no matter how well she presents her arguments in a negotiation, risks decreasing her likeability and therefore her ability to influence the other side to agree with her point of view. In contrast, whether or not they are liked does not affect men’s ability to influence others, and there is no connection between assertive behaviour and likeability for men. Men are equally well liked whether they are assertive or passive. ” Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Why Women Don’t Ask. 

So, do we continue to people please, take on less profile-raising tasks and never dare to ask for more money just so that every single person we come into contact with likes us? Or do we start to practice the techniques that will eventually earn us the reputation that we work hard for and deserve and recognise that can’t please everyone? It’s safe to say that perceptions, societal norms and past experiences will take a while to adjust but that shouldn’t stop us from getting what we’re owed.

My plea for us all this year, is to stop letting what other people may think, prevent us from taking action. We only learn and evolve through doing. International Women’s Day is a mark of unity and support for all women experiencing similar challenges in their day to day lives and through tonnes of online resources, books and female networks you will find the support you’re looking for. Do it to make yourself proud and to inspire others who you may not even know are watching. 

A recommended book that compliments this topic perfectly is ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck’ by Sarah Knight.

Are you ready to take action? You can make your plea here – I’ve just made my plea to champion women’s financial education. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for us all, we won’t sit back and let life happen to us. We’re making the change happen. 

I want to leave you with my favourite quote ‘In 10 years from now, make sure you can say you chose your life. You didn’t settle for it.’

Emma x