Why Should Women Be Any More Modest Than Men?


I enjoy reading the Sunday Times at the weekends, in particular, India Knight’s column about make up and skin care products.

A couple of weeks ago, I was irritated to see, amongst the great review for the product, this:

“I didn’t try the range for ages because the name annoyed me: it doesn’t seem right to include a flattering, self-assigned description in your brand name. It’s immodest.”

The brand in question is Super Facialist by Una Brennan.

Now, I like India Knight in the main. She’s feisty, funny and often makes me think.

But these couple of sentences really disappointed me.

What’s immodest about putting your name to your brand – regardless of the description that goes with it? A quick glance down any high street reveals plenty of household names, founded by men, who simply use their names – Sainsbury’s, WH Smith, John Menzies, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips, Harry Ramsden’s…I’m sure there are loads more, these are just the ones that sprang to mind.

Less is more as they say, and each of these brands makes self-assigned claims about themselves whether in  a strapline or through what they have become known for, which is a direct result of their own marketing.

The whole question of how women promote themselves and raise their profile is one that has interested me for the last 18 months. We don’t expect men to be ‘modest’, and yet women are often seen as ‘showing off’, ‘blowing their own trumpet’ if they dare to share their successes and what they’re good at. And the women themselves often feel that way too – which is what stops them from raising their profiles and getting the attention they often need in the workplace to advance their careers.

It’s a combination of being British and being a woman.

Now no-one is denying that humility is a great thing in a leader – but you’ll never get to a position from which to lead anyone anywhere, unless you get comfortable with communicating your excellence.

The world is too full of modest women. It’s not good for them, or society at large.

We need to stop telling women that they need to be modest and instead encourage them to understand their strengths and be proud of them. And then, help them find ways to share their achievements.

If the thought of telling people what you’re good at and sharing your successes feels like a step too far at the moment, then there are other ways to do this. I wrote this guest article for Sharp Heels a few months ago – it has some ideas to get you started.

If you’d like more ideas for helping you to be a leader with real presence, you can download a free 30 page guide, 5 Steps To Developing Your Leadership Presence by clicking  here.

P.S  While I’ve been writing this, I posted a question amongst my friends on Facebook, asking them what they thought of the brand name. While they had plenty to say about it, none of them thought it was ‘immodest’ , which pleases me greatly!

one_to_one_coaching I’m Susan Ritchie and I help emerging female leaders to develop their leadership presence by raising their profile, creating more impact and become more influential. This means they become relaxed, happy and confident leaders who enjoy their role and excel at it! If you’d like to find out more about working with me, you can contact me at hello@susanritchie.co.uk