Nicole Cutts, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, success coach, and organizational consultant who empowers clients to achieve more balanced and successful lives in her multifaceted practice, Cutts Consulting.
Black Enterprise Contributor Karima Mariama Arthur, Esq., caught up with Cutts to learn more about the unique challenges women face in achieving success in their careers.
In your work, what have you found to be the major internal roadblock women face in achieving success?
Possibly the biggest internal roadblock women face when on the path to success is the fear of their own power. This fear often masquerades as fear of success. It is sabotaging and keeps many women from achieving exactly what they want. It’s a strange thing, but many women are in fact ambivalent about success. Underlying beliefs and self-defeating thoughts conspire to repel success. They strive and work hard, yet fear continues to hold many back. In fact, fear may even get stronger the closer a person gets to achieving their goals and overall vision of success.
Is sexism an additional challenge that compounds this roadblock?
Yes! In our patriarchal society, sexism is, unfortunately, alive and quite well. Even if a woman has no internal roadblocks to success, sexism can be an external obstacle. Sexism can also exacerbate our internal blocks. For example, growing up in a sexist system can damage our self-esteem and our self-worth.
Societal expectations are often disempowering to women. They suggest that by our very nature, we are and should be, weak. Sexism punishes us for not conforming to gender role expectations that demand that we be demure and gentle. This often leads to women feeling ambivalent about embracing their power. Sexism and gender role expectations also tell us that we are selfish if we focus on our own vision of success.
These expectations encourage the pursuit of “success” as long as we are also taking care of, nurturing, or supporting someone else. This often causes many women to feel guilty about achieving success and drains our power.
Have you dealt with sexism in your career?
Gratefully, I have not directly encountered sexism in my career. This may be because my chosen field conforms with gender role expectations. As a clinical psychologist, success coach, and teacher, I am in the “helping” profession. Sexism is more prevalent in fields [dominated] by men. When it comes to positions of leadership and authority, sexism makes it hard for people to accept women in these roles.
I have, however, had to confront other internal challenges. I was raised with messages that echoed woman could be as smart and as successful as a man, as long as she was also a caregiver. I was also taught to be quiet about my success. To remain in the background. It was unfeminine to be out front. This was in opposition to my strengths and personality. I’ve struggled with a fear of success as a result, though I’ve learned to overcome it by ignoring or removing unsupportive people from my life.
What is your best advice to women struggling with internal roadblocks to success?
Uncover those blocks and root them out! Although this is easier said than done, it is a process that must be taken seriously and executed. There are countless ways to go about this and I recommend these:
– Identify and let go of self-defeating stories and beliefs
– Practice courage
-Smash your ego
– Surround yourself with positive people
-Create your ideal life scenario (free of fear)