WEST Wisdom Blog

Walking the Tightrope

Posted by Rosie Torcivia on Aug 7, 2020 4:30:15 PM

2020-08-12 Blog Pic

What is “Walking the Tightrope?”

Societal expectations have created a world where women are typically seen as either likable or respected, but not both. Many of the stereotypical traits of women align with being caretakers, while for men they are associated with being strong leaders. When women come off as confident and strong, people might associate them with being unlikable.

Are women accepting defeat by being willing to change?

The biases we have are engrained in us from a young age. Many men are expected to show little emotion and keep a strong demeanor even through hardship. One day we will live in a world where men can show compassion and vulnerability and women can show strength and assertiveness without straying from the norm. For now, women have to tread the line of leadership when trying to be respected and likable at the same time.

Intersectionality poses even greater challenges to women. Women with overlapping identities may experience resistance or backlash on multiple fronts. When thinking about women in leadership positions, it is crucial to think about how women of color’s experience differs from white women.

Looking to the Future

Respect can be difficult to achieve if many people continue to adhere to outdated gender stereotypes. Forcing men and women into narrow boxes ultimately hurts everyone in the end. In a perfect world, women will be leaders and no one will have to emphasize that they are women. There will be no “female engineers” or “female CEOs.”

Interview Insights from Kim Meninger

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Don’t try to know everything yourself, leverage the resources around you. Kim reflected that she spent a long time trying to know everything, and became frustrated when she didn’t know it all. She realized in her career that it’s more important to be aware of what you don’t know and build relationships with people who have that expertise.

What are common misconceptions people have about inner dialogue and how can we combat them?

Many people believe our inner critic is true, and rooted in reality. Kim said, “the voice of fear takes on clever disguises in its effort to keep us safe.” When we push outside of our comfort zone, our inner critic kicks in and makes us believe we are not good enough as an effort to keep us from perceived danger. To overcome this fear, we have to realize its true intentions and create distance between ourselves and that voice.

What motivates you?

Kim is very passionate about getting women and POC into positions of power. She said, “we need more diversity in leadership,” and she wants to “play a part in getting people to advance to higher levels of leadership.” For change to be effective, people in positions of higher power need to use their voice and privilege to advocate for others.

At what point in your career did your passion for this topic begin?

During Kim’s career, she experienced these issues first hand. She began her career doubting that there was a bias against women. Once she realized this, Kim wanted to leverage her strengths, live by her values, and empower others to better address the internal and external obstacles that stand in our way. share them with people. She has now taken an active role in empowering disenfranchised groups to accelerate their access to power.


WEST Book Club – The Likability Trap

We are hosting a book club where you can choose which books/sessions you would like to join. On 10/7, we will be discussing The Likability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are by Alicia Menendez. The discussion will be facilitated by Aliyah Weinstein, Marketing and Communications Manager, Addgene. Learn more


Topics: Leadership, Women, Career, Women in STEM, Upcoming Events, Balance, #WESTevent, #WESTorg, Webinar

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