Recently, a friend told me how she was called outside at work by her boss. Her boss told her that someone had made the complaint that my friend was pushy while completing an assignment involving getting a quote from a CEO of a company.
My friend is a woman and works in the corporate setting. Now, the word “pushy” has created controversy as it has a negative connotation and is associated with female leadership. Men are not called pushy. They are called determined, ambitious, leaders, go-getters, and social climbers. Women, however, get called pushy and are dismissed.
I don’t like the word pushy because of that reason. Pushy means confrontational. Pushy means acting in a aggressive manner to get things done. Pushy means pressing boundaries. Pushy is being demanding. Pushy is a trait people employ when they want to move forward. In other words, pushy is part of leadership.
And yet, being pushy is considered a bad thing when you’re a woman in business.
For a woman to be called pushy speaks to society’s notions of gender, specifically that women are still held to this ideal that women should be more submissive and complacent. Society still struggles to accept the ideal of an ambitious woman, one who presses boundaries, is demanding, confronts matters, and is a leader. When a woman embodies those traits, she is not necessarily viewed in a positive light; instead, she is told that she is being “pushy,” a word that acts as a warning to her ambition.
When you’re told you’re pushy, you might as well be told to curb your ambition. Better yet, they might as well tell you to go sit in the corner and quietly think over your actions.
Pushy should not be a punishment for ambition. And pushy should not be in our vocabulary.