I read an article this morning that cited a study finding that women in the public sphere are perceived as either competent or likable but not both. I have not been able to stop thinking about it.
I remember being in the gifted program in school, graduating fifth in my high school class, winning debate team awards and getting one of the three highest grades on an advanced calculus exam.
Competency was never an issue. But I never won any popularity contests.
I was never a prom queen, never voted miss anything by anyone, never considered one of the pretty girls the guys asked out. If you needed help with your homework or essay or a test, sure, we could study, but that was it.
In the yoga world I get tons of comments about people not liking my voice, disapproving of my outfits, my make-up, my car choice… Some people say I’m too advanced to be relatable. But rarely is my competence questioned.
And I wouldn’t change a thing—if there is choice between competency or likability, I choose competence every single time. I’d rather get things done, make a difference in the world and have everyone hate me or think I’m a b*tch than spend one more second worrying about whether I am likeable.
Maybe one day we will live in a world where women can be both likable and competent, a world where a strong woman can be celebrated, cherished and respected.
Maybe that agreeable, smiley, cool-girl persona is just a ruse and we will wake up to the strong, powerful, world-shakers that women really are. Maybe, just maybe, one day, it won’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, it will just matter whether you’re a good person and you can get the job done.
Be strong enough not to be liked. Life is more than a popularity contest.
Author: Kino MacGregor
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Yanni De Melo/Instagram
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