International Women’s Day Challenge

3 min readMar 8, 2023

Did you know that women are more likely to receive feedback that they are “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy” when they negotiate? Thus, they are branded as non-feminine, considered to be a “problematic” colleague, and sanctioned accordingly.

This is one of the challenges women face and it speaks directly to me.

Chioma, Herself

I remember vividly as I was giving a status report /update to one of my male managers in a very matrix organization where I worked. I was very passionate of the process improvements that needed to be made. I remember him saying “Chioma softer”, “please go easy”, “tone down your voice” with his face scrunched up in a frown as I raised pertinent topics and issues.

I hardly turn on my camera so my facial expressions could not be seen, but his camera was on and I was able to see his face, unfortunately it was not accommodating.

Make no mistake, I am not saying that I am less open to a feedback or outrightly rejecting what would be his own opinion. I truly appreciate constructive feedback because it is a crucial tool for self reflection.

However, in this particular case, I very much only wanted to be heard… and somewhere in the layers of my gut was this feeling of where I was told to be different. To slightly loose to my voice.

I am a very outspoken person, and which is my strength as much as it can be my weakness. Over the years, with self awareness and personal growth, I have been able to learn how to speak from the deepest of the mind respectfully and only with the sincerest intention to communicate effectively.

It has never being easy for us women, people expect us to to be reserved and to swallow our opinions or not to speak our minds. I grew up learning that “women should be not be heard rather seen”, a phrase my mother used to quiet my vivaciousness.

Interestingly, as a female leader, we are expected to be grounded in our area of work and to be assertive. Same time, we are expected to be soft, calm and sweet while communicating for us to gain acceptance.

That feedback from the manager stuck with me, it made feel less than what I could be at that moment. On subsequent interactions with the same manager, I always experienced going through great…