Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How to Overcome Negative Stereotypes as an Aspiring Female Leader in Today’s Society

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

Hey, everybody! My name is Emma, and today I will be writing about the negative stereotypes female leaders in our society face as they rise to power. I will include some of my own tips that have guided me throughout my own leadership journey and helped me overcome insecurity as a leader. From serving as a former teaching assistant for a leadership course, holding a position on the exec board for my dance team, completing two internships simultaneously which are both very leadership-oriented and student-focused, and pursuing a leadership minor, I have experience with various kinds of leadership roles, and I would love to share my advice. First, however, I am going to provide some context into how female leaders are typically perceived and treated accordingly. 

While the feminist movement has made an abundance of progress in recent years, many obstacles still stand in the way of opportunities for female leaders in a professional setting. As an empowered young woman striving to make a difference and create positive change within my community, it is important to me that I address some of the preconceived biases of female leaders in our modern society and how to overcome these. 

A necessary factor to point out that contributes to limiting opportunities for women in leadership is the timeless conventionality of not taking women seriously, due to a variety of reasons. This complacent behavior can make an appearance regarding the management style women in leadership roles may possess, how emotions are expressed in a position of power, and the confidence or insecurity levels of a female leader. If a woman demonstrates a more assertive, straightforward management style, she is likely seen by her male counterparts as bossy or overbearing. In reality, a woman in a leadership position may already be experiencing feelings of self-doubt as she carries out her responsibilities in an authoritative role, and this is likely due to the stereotype that women should take a quieter, more passive approach to leadership. In fact, the word “bossy” has such a negative connotation that it severely diminishes young girls’ desires to strive to be a leader. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, women are referred to as “bossy” more frequently than men are. Associates labeled as “bossy” are described as unpopular and unlikely to have future success, and “bossy” female colleagues are viewed as more unpopular and less successful in comparison to “bossy” male colleagues. Behaving in a ‘bossy’ manner is also connected to being viewed as less promotable, for both men and women, but unfortunately, this correlation was stronger for women. 

Additionally, when a woman is labeled as “emotional” throughout the course of serving in a leadership role, this reduces her credibility and allows for an inaccurate label to be associated with a female leader. Forbes Newsletters brings to light that we generally tend to think people are either rational or emotional, but it is not possible for them to be both. When a woman’s arguments are perceived as corresponding to her emotions, it suggests she is not thinking clearly or logically and as a result, the validity of her points or objectives is weakened. Unsurprisingly, men’s credibility doesn’t falter when they are called “emotional” or told to “calm down.” This is because people do not take the “emotional” label seriously when it is related to men. A double standard is clearly exhibited in this discrepancy, and it is inequitable for female leaders to receive lesser treatment because of pre-existing gender norms and expectations. 

While drastic efforts have been made to increase awareness of gender inequalities in the workplace or other professional settings, many organizations still cling to traditional gender roles and presumptions. As a young woman who has a diverse leadership background, I can attest to the fact that it can be extremely difficult to feel respected or validated in your leadership. What has helped me in my leadership journey and what I hope helps other young women as well are these five things: 

  1. Take Risks 

You will never be able to truly blossom into the leader you are meant to be if you do not allow yourself to take risks. By pushing yourself and chasing after what you want, you will become more confident in yourself and further your own development as a professional as you pursue beneficial opportunities. Even if you are unsure about whether you will get the position you want or achieve a certain goal you have in mind, it is imperative that you at least put forth your best effort and go after what you’ve set your sights on. 

  1. Find Comfort in the Many People that Believe in You 

This is very significant to success as a leader and aspiring professional. If you end up hitting a roadblock or doubting your capabilities at some point, it is helpful to remind yourself of the circle of people who believe in your potential and who have your best interests at heart. These people can encourage you and remind you of your strengths when you are feeling defeated or incapable.  

  1. Determination is Key 

It is so important to remain determined and persistent when leading your group towards a shared goal. Displaying an unmatched drive to succeed as well as positive reinforcement to those you work with will show others that you are passionate about what you are striving for and that you truly care about the advancements of the group. 

  1. Allow Room for Growth 

While gaining experience in a leadership role or professional field, it is crucial to remember that you are still learning and developing yourself, so you should keep in mind that you will not know everything right off the bat. Becoming an effective leader is a process that takes time and even once you have acquired more experience, you should continue to reflect on what you can improve upon. 

  1. Understand That You Can’t Please Everyone 

This has probably been the most challenging concept for me as a leader. As someone who is a huge people pleaser, the fact that I may not be liked no matter what I do to be an exemplary figure among my peers is extremely difficult to grasp. However, it is impossible to please everyone, and part of developing into a mature leader is accepting that you do not always need validation from your followers if you are confident in yourself. With confidence in your abilities to lead and the decisions you make, you do not need constant reassurance from others! 

I hope this article provided some valuable insight into how to overcome negative stereotypes as an aspiring female leader in today’s society. Break the glass ceiling and strive towards your goals while building confidence as an empowered female leader in your community!






Emma Reindel

Bowling Green '25

Emma is a senior at Bowling Green State University, majoring in Tourism and Event Management while double minoring in communications and leadership. She is an honors student and an Honors College intern + ambassador, as well as the treasurer for Her Campus at BGSU! In her free time, Emma enjoys reading, drinking coffee, working out, and listening to music.