Unlocking the Power Within: Overcoming Negative Bias Against Women

Unlocking the Power Within: Overcoming Negative Bias Against Women

In a world striving for gender equality, it is disheartening to learn that almost 90% of men and women globally harbour biases against women, hindering progress towards true equality (see the UNDP reference article here).

As a female self-leadership coach based in Johannesburg, South Africa, I am deeply committed to addressing these biases and empowering women to overcome the subtle barriers they face. In this article, we will explore the impact of negative bias on women's wellbeing, shed light on the invisible barriers they encounter, and discuss the changes needed to foster a more inclusive society.

The impact of negative bias on wellbeing

Negative bias against women is not just a statistic; it has profound effects on their overall wellbeing. When women consistently face the belief that men are better political leaders, more deserving of job opportunities, or superior business executives, it erodes their confidence and self-esteem. This bias perpetuates imposter complex, making it challenging for women to embrace their true potential. The resulting self-doubt and internalised negativity can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even mental health issues, ultimately affecting their overall quality of life.

Unmasking the invisible barriers

The recently published UN report sheds light on the various social beliefs that contribute to the construction of negative bias against women. These biases manifest as invisible, subtle barriers that hinder progress towards gender equality. Let's explore some of these barriers:

Leadership stereotypes

The deeply ingrained belief that men make better political leaders and business executives limits opportunities for women to access leadership roles. It reinforces gender roles and perpetuates the notion that women are better suited to supporting roles rather than positions of power. Breaking through this barrier requires challenging these stereotypes, creating equal opportunities, and amplifying women's voices in decision-making spaces.

Educational disparities

The prevailing notion that university education is more important for men than women restricts women's access to higher education and career opportunities. This perpetuates gender-based discrimination in the workplace and hampers their professional growth. Equalising educational opportunities and promoting gender-sensitive curricula will help dismantle this barrier and foster a more equitable society.

Job preference

The notion that men should have more rights to job opportunities than women creates a systemic bias in hiring and promotions. It hinders women's career advancement, financial independence, and their ability to realise their full potential. Shifting organisational cultures towards inclusivity, implementing fair hiring practices, and promoting diversity in leadership are crucial steps in breaking down this barrier.

Intimate partner violence

Shockingly, the UN report reveals a distressing link between negative bias against women and intimate partner violence. Prejudice and biases against women can perpetuate and normalise abusive behaviours, creating a hostile environment that compromises their safety and wellbeing. Addressing this barrier requires societal awareness, education on healthy relationships, and enforcing strict measures against domestic violence.

The need for change

To dismantle negative bias and eliminate the invisible barriers faced by women, transformative changes are imperative.

Education and awareness

Promote comprehensive gender equality education at all levels, challenging stereotypes, biases, and harmful social beliefs. This includes empowering both men and women with the knowledge and skills to promote gender equality in all aspects of life.

Policy reforms

Implement and enforce policies that promote gender equality, such as affirmative action measures, equal pay legislation, and inclusive workplace practices. These policies should focus on dismantling discriminatory practices and creating a level playing field for women to thrive.

Cultural shift

Foster a cultural shift that values and respects women's contributions to society. This includes challenging societal norms and stereotypes, promoting diverse representation in leadership positions, and amplifying women's voices in decision-making processes.

Empowerment and support

Provide women with access to mentorship, coaching, and leadership development programmes to build their self-confidence, skills, and resilience. Encourage women to support and uplift each other, creating a network of empowerment that breaks through the barriers of negative bias.

Negative bias against women obstructs their path to self-leadership and diminishes their human potential. By acknowledging the impact of negative bias on women's wellbeing, unmasking the invisible barriers they face, and taking collective action to bring about change, we can create a more inclusive society where women can thrive and lead with confidence. 

Together, let's unlock the power within women, empowering them to embrace self-leadership and shatter the chains of negative bias.



My name is Nokubonga Mbanga and I am committed to making an impact.

I work with talented, driven & productive individuals and organisations that want to make a difference in the world while honouring their values & inner wisdom.