The difficulty of standing up

Remy Farkas, Editor-In-Chief

For many women, being assertive is a difficult and daunting task. This holds especially true for teenage girls who are still developing an identity and self-confidence. In a commercial recently released by Secret Deodorant, a businesswoman is depicted looking into a bathroom mirror rehearsing her pitch to her boss about why she deserves a raise to earn a salary equal to her newer male counterpart. This commercial depicted the reality of the struggle that many women face in the professional world.

As one of a series of similar commercials in their #StressTest Campaign, “Raise” approaches the issue of the wage gap as well as women’s assertiveness. Her struggle and “stress” to make the words come out of her mouth in an appropriate yet assertive way is an situation faced by many women in this day in age.

Often times women fear that their assertiveness can come off as aggression or abrasiveness. Assertiveness is confidence and aggression is a forceful or hostile tone. When women stand up for themselves assertiveness can be misconstrued with aggression, thus changing one’s attitude toward them and the case in which they are pleading. Whether it is asking for a raise in the workplace or simply defending their point in a class debate, it is critical that women maintain their assertiveness without sounding abrasive.

To curb the aggressive perception of women, women can make simple behavioral adjustments in order to make their proposal more approachable and respected. Women should listen first before they decide to disagree, letting their audience know that they are being heard and respected. It is critical for a woman to locate a point of the argument and agree with it, to create trust and a relationship in a productive conversation and let her opponent know that they are fully understood.

Negotiations and assertiveness improve with age. With growth and practice, women become strong negotiators and will not be bullied in the workplace.