The Likability Conundrum

Interview by
Diane Danvers Simmons
Natalie Simmons
Published on
October 14, 2020

In this episode...

Let's discuss the Likability Conundrum: why are women in power portrayed as "aggressive"? Why are outspoken little girls called "bossy"? The ladies dive in with "Bias" documentary filmmaker, Robin Hauser and her daughter, Holland Reynolds.


Robin Hauser

Robin is an award-winning director of documentary films including, "bias", which delves into unconscious bias and how it affects our lives socially and in the workplace.

Holland Reynolds

Holland is responsible for fundraising from current and prospective Limited Partners for a private equity firm in the Bay Area. Holland also leads HGGC’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.


2.00 The mother daughter duo offer up a new format for the podcast during which they narrow in on subject “likability “ as a woman. The episode includes a short interview with “Bias” filmmaker, Robin Hauser and her daughter, Holland Reynolds, followed up by Natalie and Diane’s personal discussion about their own experiences and reflections on gender bias

2.45 Diane defines “likability” quoting Robin’s Ted Talk on The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders.1

5.00 The women address the value of single sex education

6.25 How does “likability” impact women’s career trajectory? 

7.00 Robin shares how, when a woman is assertive, she violates perceived gender norms, as seen by both men and women

7.15 Diane shares a personal experience with gender bias from her days in advertising

8.45 Natalie questions what unconscious biases women may have against themselves that hold them back from their own successes 

9.30 Holland suggests that women find allies and mentors to forward their career trajectory

12.00 Robin reminds us we cannot control who likes us, but we have a responsibility to be good leaders 

13.30 The group questions leading with the age old saying “our gut reaction” and instead, pausing to question what biases we may hold in our reactions

14.15 How can we support our children despite biases and teach them values versus gender norms?

14.45 At the close of their discussion with Robin & Holland, Natalie and Diane begin a personal dialogue on the likability conundrum and how it has shaped their experiences in life and the workplace

17.00 The women explore the role of our upbringing in how we interact with gender biases

18.00 Natalie challenges Diane to consider her own biases towards women 

20.25 Natalie highlights the importance of identifying and bringing discussions on gender bias into the light so we can be more conscious and therefore make changes

20.45 The women reflect on Robin’s depiction of women’s negotiation skills - when they are considered “helpful” versus selfish

21.30 Natalie questions the role of gender norms in society and Diane makes an argument for history and DNA

23.30 Diane talks about the qualities of the feminine and Natalie counters by questioning whether traits should be gendered at all

27.00 Diane circles back to the premise that everything starts at home and the importance of giving children the space to feel heard, welcomed and loved

28.00 The ladies discuss the language we use with our children and how to avoid gendering them from the start

31.00 Citing a New York Times article, How Women Can Escape the Likability Trap, Diane asks Natalie to explore whether she believes this is possible

34.00 As the episode comes to a close the women reinforce the importance of sticking to our values, not worrying about being liked by everyone, calling out others who hold biases they may not even know about, interrogating our own biases and slowing down so we can respond rather than react to the situation at hand

Robin’s Ted Talk on The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders, TEDxMarin, September 2019

2 New York Times article, How Women Can Escape the Likability Trap, Joan C. Williams, August 16, 2019

Other resources from Robin Hauser

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robin.hauser226

Website: finishlinefeaturefilms.com

Instagram: @Rubie226

Twitter: @Rubie226

Bias Documentary Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXfxU7JaRu8

Watch, "bias" at biasfilm.com

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