The image features a young woman with dark brown hair screaming into a megaphone. She is wearing her hair styled in an upward bun and is wearing a peach colored blouse. She's holding the megaphone with both hands. The test reads: episode 42, Stop the silence and gracefully respond to misogyny in your professional life,

Women are often confronted with sexism and misogyny in their professional lives and struggle with how to respond.

Recently, I was an invited to be panelist at an event for young women entrepreneurs about how sponsorship can accelerate their professional development.

The panel featured 4 other experts from a variety of domains. One of the male panelists who specialized in developing startup companies was asked to share his experience hiring women.

He asserted that most women lack the drive to take on challenging positions. He said he normally review at least 1000 resumes to find 3 suitable women candidates for any role.

Then, he capped off his comments by saying that women are highly motivated… when they want expensive handbags, condominiums, and rich husbands!

It’s hard to believe, but that’s what he said. Let’s unpack what’s behind this issue and some empowering approaches to finding your voice.

Find the full transcript and other resources for women leaders at

I Called it What It Was — Misogyny

So going back to the event, it was organized by women for young female entrepreneurs. There were lots of Millennials and Gen Z in attendance. The energy was electric. If I could use one word to describe the mood of the event, I would say optimistic.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown accustomed to participating in activities remotely and only join in-person events when I expect them to deliver high value. I think the attendees had the same expectation. And it delivered on its promise, until the controversial bomb hit.

As you can imagine, I couldn’t let this incendiary comment go unchallenged. I called out this statement for what it was — misogynistic — and added that if he believed that gold digging was the main motivator for women, it was no wonder he couldn’t find candidates.

His perspective was clearly colored by this perverse point of view. I asked him if he ever considered how systemic problems, like the lack of adequate childcare solutions, made it nearly impossible for some women to take on challenging roles.

Professional Women Need to Voice Their Outrage

From where I was sitting on the panel, I had a clear view of the first few rows of women in the audience. From the looks on their faces, they seemed outraged. Neighbors whispered and some women used protective body language like crossing their arms over their chests.

I expected an audible out-cry from the audience or, at a minimum, some booing to signal their rejection of this insulting remark, but there was complete silence.

The first question that came into my mind was “why are these women are so quiet?”

After I challenged the panelist, my response was met with cheers and head nods from the audience. During the break at least a dozen women thanked me for speaking up. These after-the-fact reactions confirmed a wholesale rejection of his remark.

So, why wasn’t anyone able to vocalize this when the incident took place?

Societal Norms Continue to Impact Women’s Self Expression

Women don’t understand the power they have.

I’m not talking about power to control others. I’m referring to personal power. The power you have to excel at what you do and make an impact. But all too often, even when you reach the executive level, you second guess your ability to speak up.

Women have been conditioned from a young age not to rock the boat or offend but to play nice and be polite. Society labels women that speak out as trouble makers and masculine. If she’s in an executive or leadership position, the labels can be brutal and downright vulgar.

This has a direct impact on the calculus you make every time you decide to speak up. You start weighing the consequences of your comments. Will you hurt someone’s feelings or face an uncomfortable confrontation? Will you unwittingly damage your reputation?

I understand your hesitation. And think about how your male counterparts communicate. They take pride in spewing out the unvarnished truth, whether it’s an exaggeration, fact based or not.

I’m not suggesting you adopt a male approach to communicating, just don’t hesitate to reply, otherwise your opportunity to make an impact might be lost.

3 Keys for Executive Women to Confront Sexism and Misogyny

As a woman executive, you understand all too well the corrosive impact of sexism and misogyny in the workplace. When this behavior is tolerated, it effects organizational climate and employee well-being. Left unchecked, it leads to:

When you make the decision to confront sexism and misogyny, remember:

  1. Remove emotion — In order to be heard, remove emotion from your response. An emotional response runs the risk of you being labelled as unhinged or crazy. It will also give anyone who feels threatened by your reaction license to completely disqualify your statements, no matter how valid they may be.
  2. Your silence become agreement — When you experience or witness misogynistic or sexist statements, stop them in their tracks! Your silence will be interpreted as agreement or make you complicit in perpetuating unacceptable behavior. It’s hard to live in your integrity if you don’t speak up.
  3. Not everything has to be a battle — Exercising grace allows the offender to clarify their position. Ask the speaker to illuminate their statement and allow them the time they need to reflect and restate their comments from a place of more consciousness.

Raise your courage, stand in your power, and use your voice!

Remember, you are the solution to claiming what’s important to you!

If you’ve faced similar challenges and are looking for ways to navigate them, consider booking a 90-minute OWN THE ROOM session with me to strategize leveraging your voice and position to make an impact.