Next Steps for Dealing with Negative Stereotypes

Negative stereotypes about women are everywhere, and when we internalize them, we usually do not realize it. Yet carrying these internalized stereotypes can influence our behaviors toward other women. For that reason, it is important to begin to notice how these negative stereotypes may live in us and be reflected in our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.

Negative stereotypes about women are everywhere, and when we internalize them, we usually do not realize it. Yet carrying these internalized stereotypes can influence our behaviors toward other women. For that reason, it is important to begin to notice how these negative stereotypes may live in us and be reflected in our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.

Test Yourself

The level I statements below describe ways you may be hurting yourself by internalizing negative stereotypes, and the Level II statements describe ways you may be participating in horizontal violence toward another woman.

Be honest with yourself. Put a check mark by the statements below that are true for you.

Notice whether your score indicates a low, moderate, or strong internalization of negative stereotypes about women.

Level I: Have you ever:

__ Discounted or doubted yourself?

__ Apologized before presenting your ideas in a group or meeting, such as saying, “I may be wrong” or “This is probably a stupid question”?

__ Felt like an imposter or fraud when you got a promotion or opportunity?

__ Looked in the mirror and really disliked what you saw?

__ Tied your self-image to your appearance or clothes?

Level II: Have you ever:

__ Said something negative about another woman and denied it when she asked?

__ Talked negatively about a woman behind her back and smiled to her face?

__ Made a commitment to support another woman and didn’t do it when the time came?

__ Said to someone, “She’s such a bitch”?

__ Made fun of another woman’s appearance behind her back?

__ Said or thought, “You can’t trust women”?

__ Spread a rumor that you had heard that cast doubt on another woman’s competence?

__ Seen another woman’s ideas attacked or ignored in a meeting, whether you agreed with them or not, while you sat back and watched in silence?

Use the following scoring guide to reflect upon your answers:

1–3 checks = You exhibit low internalization of negative stereotypes about women.

4–6 checks = You exhibit moderate internalization of negative stereotypes about women.

7+ checks = You exhibit strong internalization of negative stereotypes about women.

Think about your vision for how you would like women to behave toward each other at work. Create a personal code of conduct for how you want to behave. Post it and look at it daily to remind yourself of how you want to be.

(Republished from Dr. Litwin's website, original article here)


Dr. Anne Litwin has been a consultant, coach and trainer for more than thirty years in a wide variety of organizations throughout the world. Anne’s lifelong interest in the unique dynamics among women in a wide range of work environments is at the forefront of the research in her latest book, New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together.

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