Why Women Suppress Their Full Potential

Why some women limit their full ability to succeed in life and how to combat the pressure put on by some men, other women, and yourself


Eve Slemp

Opinion of: EVE SLEMP

In a society that is mainly male-dominated, when women start rising to the top in business and academics, the shift in roles makes people uncomfortable. As our society progresses, gender roles have noticeably shifted, especially now that women are taking on more roles in the workforce which were once deemed as “masculine.”

In 1967, only 27 percent of mothers were the primary financial supporters of the family, while in 2022, 40 percent of women were the sole providers for families. Yet, when women do have ambitions and dreams, they are often stripped of their power by men, other women, and even themselves on their journey to success.

For example, in secondary school, the belittling of women can show. As the pressure to take advanced classes rises, some women, especially in STEM classes surrounded by men, feel uncomfortable and experience misogynistic dialogue between classmates.

When applying to competitive colleges, they are bombarded with comments like “You don’t deserve to get in” and “You’re wasting your application.” This continues throughout college and into the workplace in different forms.

Chemistry teacher and CalTech graduate Lori Singer has similar experiences. Her professor rarely allowed her to “feel good enough” as a woman in STEM.

“I spent four years convinced I wouldn’t let him win. But, it dawned on me that nothing could change who he was. I decided to take control of my own path and not let others bring me down,” Ms. Singer said.

Statistically, in the United States, men now are more likely to drop out of college than women. In contrast, women make up half the workforce and are earning more college and graduate degrees than men, according to The NYT. With this in mind, why should women ever feel pressured to lessen their dreams and sense of self-accomplishment?

Why should women be persecuted by others for being successful? As women are growing to be more prosperous in the workforce, their dreams should not be diminished and deemed “unrealistic” or “impossible.”

Especially today, it should be well-known that women are equal to men.

From academics, careers, and at home expectations, women and men should share the same roles and responsibilities.

Although, in the workplace, the dynamics differ greatly. Men are given “kudos” when they are assertive in order to “seal a deal,” yet when a woman acts in a similar way to get ahead, she is seen as “bossy.” Competition in the workforce between men and women on multiple accounts has led to mental abuse, manipulation, “mansplaining,” lack of self-esteem for women, and a toxic culture.

It is easy to lose confidence in yourself after you’re made to feel less than others day after day, and that you will never be successful, no matter how hard you try, simply because you’re a woman.

Other women can degrade other women through “female rivalry.” According to Harvard Business Review, female rivalry stems from internalized sexism emitted from society. Especially in careers, some women view opportunities as “one seat at a table,” which creates a “me or her” mentality.

In such a competitive world, some women put down other women because they believe that’s the only way to get
ahead. But, this mindset is actually counteractive. It is proven that more diverse teams perform better in a work
environment. Therefore, if some women adopt this “scarcity mindset,” it holds all women back. Women need to lift each other up, which ultimately creates more opportunities and success for all.

Though, when one lacks that support system, her mind can become flooded with intrusive thoughts and self-doubt. This comes with fear of judgment and “not being good enough” when trying to achieve such ambitions. We can hide, running away from the feeling of embarrassment, dumbing down our ideas, resorting to “people-pleasing,” and becoming overly apologetic for our efforts.

Society creates this trap attempting to keep women down, making them afraid to become that brave, strong woman.

This needs to stop.

As Tina Fey says, “Confidence is 10 percent hard work and 90 percent delusion — just thinking foolishly that you will be able to do what you want to do.” We should be able to celebrate our successes and thrive in ways we want to. No one should put women down for being a “self-assured go-getter.”

Society needs to change the way women are perceived; we cannot go on shaming and degrading women for their hard work.

“You have to believe in yourself. Do not allow others to determine your worth. You can do anything,” Ms. Singer said.

In this competitive society, it is far too easy to slip away from reality and distance oneself from goals because of the opinions of others.

Stop. Everyone else in society does not have a say in your ability, your self-worth, and your future. It is up to you to persevere and make your life as successful as you make it.