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Choice - of Words

Over the years, I have noticed that more often than not, people use the word "aggressive" when in fact they mean "assertive" when talking about a woman who is confident and has her wits about her. I think it is important to point this out to "labellers" because the two words indeed convey very different qualities (see below). I have encountered many young women who tend to use these words interchangeably, and it is only when the difference is pointed out that they realise the subtext of what they are saying. While this may seem trivial, I believe it contributes to how women are viewed in the workplace - particularly women who might be in decision-making positions: I think everyone has a story or knows of a situation where a confident and decisive woman is viewed as being aggressive and even hostile; while a man who is confident and decisive is considered capable, qualified, "on the ball", competent etc. Here are the words defined at the Oxford Reference site - links to the site are provided:

Assertive (adj) : having or showing a confident and forceful personality: the job may call for assertive behaviour.


Aggressive (adj): ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression: he's very uncooperative and aggressive. • behaving or done in a determined and forceful way: we needed more growth to pursue our aggressive acquisition strategy.

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