Assertiveness may be recognized as the personality characteristic of being self-confident or assured in oneself. On the surface, it may seem as though being assertive is a positive trait to possess.
However, it can also be recognized as being aggressive, or even as being a bully. Being assertive is a valuable trait to possess in various environments, because it symbolizes a commitment to achieve determined goals, yet it is also commonly interpreted as a threatening expression of opinion.
It is essential to question the ways in which assertiveness is perceived when issued from a male or a female, because in this trait there lies a double standard. Assertiveness is not considered to be a desirable characteristic for a female in the workplace, however it is considered to be a desirable characteristic in a male in the workplace.
Research conducted by Netchaeva, Kouchaki and Sheppard in their text Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin demonstrates that societal norms seemingly disallow males from working in an inferior position to a female unless their superior is someone truly justified in their position. They go on to examine how females are interpreted to be less suitable for superior positions than men, and that males may feel particularly inferior working in a role that is inferior to a female.
Being aware and educated of the disproportionate expectations that exist in regards to assertiveness in males vs. assertiveness in females is essential in order to understand its overall involvement in the relationship between gender and language. Possessing the ability to acknowledge how socially constructed gender norms significantly influence the ways in which we perceive gender is one way of eradicating the issue. In order to ensure that assertiveness is appreciated and valued equally between males and females, the separation that exists between genders in terms of assertiveness must be identified to ultimately educate individuals about assertiveness.