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Forbes: 10 Worst Stereotypes About Powerful Women

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This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the plight many successful women face while trying to conquer the world. But in a recent article, Forbes Women are tackling the sensitive topic once more. This time, they’ve named the top 10 worst stereotypes these women are plagued with each day. I found this interesting, perhaps, you will too.

No. 1: Ice Queen

Halley Bock, CEO of leadership and development training company Fierce, notes that the ruthless “ice queen” stereotype is rampant. Cultural depictions, like frigid magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (and her real-world counterpart Anna Wintour of Vogue) and back-stabbing boss Patty Hewes on Damages, paint successful women as unsympathetic power-mongers. It is, of course, a Catch-22. “A woman who shows emotion in the workplace is often cast as too fragile or unstable to lead,” Bock said. “A woman who shows no emotion and keeps it hyper-professional is icy and unfeminine. For many women, it can be a no-win situation.”

No. 2: Single and Lonely

Harvard lecturer Olivia Fox Cabane notes that the strong perception that powerful women are intimidating to men and will need to sacrifice their personal lives may stop women from going after power. Even those women who aren’t interested in marrying, face harsh judgments. Men get to be “bachelors” while women are reduced to “spinsters” and “old-maids.” In fact, when Janet Napolitano was nominated Secretary of Homeland Security, critics said her being single would allow her to “spend more time on the job.”

No. 3: Tough

The first female Executive Editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson is anything but stereotypical. She had a hard-charging career as an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal and edited her way to the top of the Times masthead. She’s also a true-blood New Yorker and is writing a book about puppies. Despite her complexities, she must contend with being called “tough” and “brusque,” making the “she’s-tough stereotype” her least favorite. Said Abramson: “As an investigative reporter, I had tough standards and a formidable way of framing and reporting stories, but I don’t think of myself as a tough person.”

No. 4: Weak

Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla, the country’s first female leader, told me that successful women face typecasting largely because society is still adjusting to women’s recent decision-making power. Chinchilla believes the most pervasive stereotype is that women are “weak,” a perception that may stem from women’s greater desire to build a consensus. “We understand success not as the result of just one person but as the result of a team,” she said. “[It’s a] different way of dealing with power [that] is misunderstood as a kind of weakness.”

No. 5: Masculine

The notion that powerful women must be, lead and look like a man really aggravates Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. In a video interview with FORBES she said–pumping her fist–she hates the idea that “you have to look like a businessman.” She admitted she sometimes feels the pressure to look the “right” way, but tries to resist not being “overly businesslike.”

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