Women in the workplace face all sorts of stereotypes. Black women in the workplace face twice as many. A recent study explored the impossible tightrope Black women in the workplace – particularly those in managerial positions – must walk, navigating and pushing back on the stereotypes of being a double minority. Being a woman can mean that people expect you to be extremely cooperative, pleasant, and possibly even a pushover. Being a Black woman in the workplace can mean, as one study found, that people expect you to be assertive.
With all of these expectations and projections, it can be incredibly difficult to just focus on the work you’re doing and bringing your best self to the table. It can be especially difficult to determine what it means to come off as confident at work, without overdoing it and coming off as conceited, or underdoing it and coming off as insecure. Women of all races deal with that, but Black women deal with it in a more complex way. I spoke to career and life coach Dr. Keita Joy, who has appeared on “Iyanla: Fix My Life” and who is soon putting out her first TED Talk on the mental health of Black women in America about this issue. She gave actionable insight on how women can address the confidence dilemma in the workplace.
You know where your heart is
Dr. Joy is a proponent of listening to female intuition, and says, in terms of fearing you may come off as conceited, “We have to know that, if your heart is not in that space, then you’re being confident…What does it mean to be confident? It means, any room you show up in, you add value to that space.”