Mixed feelings on this one. I’m not sure whether I come off as more feminine than masculine when it comes to work. I’ve lost interest completely in suggesting salaries or dumbing down my experience — often affiliated with being feminine and demure. I tried it in my early years. It just got me underpaid and working way too hard. I found that I didn’t get things done or get people to take me seriously until I toughened up and started letting people know, “I need exactly this. It’s not ‘just an idea.’ It’s not ‘hey, maybe you can do this.’ No, it’s ‘this is what needs to be done.’”

I’ve mentioned this in a prior post, but as a black woman, you risk both being considered masculine and get the “angry black woman” stereotype, too. I think sometimes that people will keep trying your patience until you turn into the leader that they don’t want you to be — and then they’ll act shocked when you are. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to work solo as opposed to being the leader of a group. By default, my personality is very much a leader (read: kinda bossy), but I’d rather just depend on me than to be barking out orders at anyone else. The nice way just never ever worked. People will run over you if you let them.

I can think of one recent example of this last week where I just got fed up with someone who had been slacking for at least six months and disappeared altogether on an assignment the year before, but forever shared his two cents on everyone else’s workload. Finally I just let him have it and called him out on his behavior. He told me I was “hostile” — after 1.5 years of him slacking off and me being quiet about it. I wiped my hands of it. Call me “masculine.” I’ll deal. I got the job done though — no complaints about the quality of the work.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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