If you're a woman and an Enneagram Eight, you don't have it easy. The female Type Eight experience is one of the most misunderstood and mistreated numbers on the Enneagram (that's right, I said it!). I think it's naive to believe that gender doesn't play a role in how your Enneagram number is perceived. 


The Problem With Being a Female Enneagram 8 

As the most assertive and aggressive type, the traits of an Enneagram Eight are stereotypically masculine. When Type Eight men use their strengths as confident, capable leaders, they are praised and lifted into positions of power. When Type Eight women use their strengths, they are told that they are being bossy and encouraged to mute themselves.

This can feel so frustrating. That’s why I asked some amazing Type Eight women to answer some questions about their experience, so you can feel some encouragement and gain insight on handling tough situations. Remember: you’re not alone!

What Are Some Damaging Words That People Have Called You?

“I think what a female Enneagram Eight like myself gets labeled as most often is the b-word. And I'm talking about bossy, not the other one you may have popped into your mind.” - Candace Jenkins

“In the past people have used some pretty damaging words and I think that the most effective one was being called a b****. I guess I would be rude or I would say exactly how I felt and I wouldn't sugarcoat anything. I think more frustrating to me was that… people would always say they were afraid of me as if I always intended harm to someone. I think that was more damaging to me than being called words.”  - Ashley Bunk

“One man I worked with once jokingly quipped that he had been the victim of a Drive-by Wendy.” - Wendy 

“Stubborn, bossy, blunt, mean, rude, tough, unladylike, savage.” - Amy Grandy

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Opinion Is Not Fact

Wow, it can be hard to hear these cruel, unkind words from people. Because Type Eights are so commonly misunderstood, it’s important to remember that people's opinions are not facts. 

When someone tells you something hurtful, remember these words from psychologist Dr. Julie Smith: “A thought is not a factual statement about the world. Thoughts are a suggestion of one way to look at things.”

Have You Ever Been Punished Because of Your Type Eight Qualities?

“I remember in high school my church youth pastor met with my parents to discuss with them his opinions on me being “too much.” That was a very detrimental situation for me because that was someone I trusted. Thankfully, I didn't lose my faith but I did lose respect for that individual. As an eight respect is everything so once I respect for you, it's probably not gonna come back.” - Michelle Fortin

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Step Into Protector

Type Eight qualities can come off as “domineering” or “too much.” It can feel so frustrating when male coworkers or friends aren’t punished for their opinions like women are.

If you’re struggling with this in your workplace or other spaces, try this tip from Personality Path

“While the softer skills might be harder to come by, Type Eights readily associate with protective feelings and easily step into the role of protector. For Type Eight women this can offer an authentic way to enhance relationships and engage in the emotional world.”

When Have You Stood up for Something You Believed In?

“After my first miscarriage, I kept questioning my doctor about what we could do to prevent it from happening again. She told me she would not help me until I had three losses. I went to another doctor a few months later and she helped me before we had more losses. Several years after that I had to switch doctors again because we hit a dead end in the help that we were getting. Thankfully we did because now we have our daughter.” - Jamie Cole

“Protecting the underdog or the underrepresented to me has looked like speaking up for volunteers, minorities, and female staff who have not felt comfortable or had opportunities to speak up for themselves.” - Wendy

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Rest Well

As a Type Eight, one of your most noble qualities is to speak up for and champion others, regardless of other people’s opinions. Keep up the good work, and make sure to secure adequate rest. This will give you the energy you need to fight the good fight!

What Are Encouraging Words People Have Called You?

“Honest, a leader, inspirational, passionate, strong, determined, go-getter.” - Amy Grandy

“I've been thanked so many times by people who appreciate me being blunt with them. Being honest and knowing that what you take what you what you see is what you get with me a lot of my friends have come to me regularly. They know I'm gonna speak the truth and I'm not gonna sugarcoat things. I think people appreciate that.” - Michelle Fortin

“I’m encouraged when people tell me that I'm good at making people feel seen and heard and comfortable. As someone who can have a reputation as coming off as abrasive or aggressive, knowing that I am making someone… at ease and feel seen in their story is proof that I am growing… I'm in touch with my own vulnerabilities and sensitivities to be able to open that space up for other people.” - Sheila Jenkins

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Reframe Negative Experiences

Enneagram 8 women are often criticized for their assertive traits. Studies have shown that humans remember negative and traumatic experiences over positive ones. To combat the hurt that can come with being an Enneagram Type Eight, practice finding positive meaning in past negative experiences. 

Take this real-world example from Behavioral Research Scientist Megan Speer:

“When reflecting on a past break-up with a romantic partner, this primarily evokes negative emotions and perhaps even rumination about the event. However, one way to find positive meaning is to focus on the positive aspects or look for new insights about the event. For instance, you might realize that this break-up inspired you to re-evaluate what traits and characteristics you want in a romantic partner, which may differ from what you previously thought. This new insight might have pushed you to seek out someone who was a better match for you in the future. When remembering this previous break-up in the future, you may now also remember the new positive insight you gained with it, making it less distressing to think about.”

Have You Ever Lessened Yourself to Seem More “Socially Acceptable”?

“No, I can't say that I have, and honestly, why would I want to?” - Candace Jenkins

“Being a female Eight in a conservative Christian context can be challenging. While I have found that men generally appreciate my ability to communicate directly and in bullet points, I've also found it helpful to tap into the softer graciousness of the two to be more well-received by men and women.” - Wendy

“In debate in high school, and even college, I would be using the same tactics, the same logical reasoning as some of my male counterparts and strongly pushing points forward. Both the teacher and my classmates would sometimes approach me afterward; ‘Hey why were you so angry?” or, ‘Why did you get upset?” I would see people wouldn't want to choose me for some teams, or they would dock me points for getting too personal, when honestly when… I was just being strong in my wording or even just sticking to my point. I realized that if I were to succeed socially, and even sometimes academically, unfortunately I would have to change my tactics to be softer or more open-ended so that it wouldn't come off as brash or aggressive.” - Katelyn Tinius

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Stick to Your Boundaries

Some of the Enneagram Type Eights that I interviewed felt that they had to change their tactics to be softer to be heard in certain group settings. Others feel that they don’t need to change who THEY are to make someone else more comfortable.

However you feel, be proud of that decision and stick to that boundary. And if you want some help choosing boundaries for Type Eights, check out this awesome infographic from Mirabelle Creations!

Have You Seen a Male Enneagram Eight Do the Same Thing You Did With Different Results?

“In my past life, I was a television news reporter. Being a Type Eight in that business is incredibly helpful. I will say that it is different for a woman than a man because men are seen as assertive, getting the job done, and getting the tough questions asked. Whereas women are seen as assertive, bossy, and manipulative. I certainly experienced that. In one state that I was working in, I interviewed the governor on many occasions and he did not like the questions that I was asking. I ended up getting banned from his office where my male colleagues did not. So that was fun!”- Michelle Fortin

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Fight When You Can, Let It Go When You Can’t

It’s a horrible feeling to be treated differently at work because of your gender. If the issue is as far as gender discrimination, then use the letter of the law to fight for a better workplace. The idea of pursuing legal action can be overwhelming, so talk with trusted friends and family if you need before taking this step.

Sometimes, treatment isn’t so black and white. If that’s the case, think about your boundaries. Respond as best as you can within what you feel comfortable with. And sometimes, it’s best for your mental health to simply let it go. 

What Is One Thing You Wish People Understood About Female Eights?

“We are not heartless! It's actually the exact opposite. Our hearts are so big and that's why we are so passionate about the things we believe in, the people we believe in, and the people we care about.” - Amy Grandy

“Female Enneagram eights are often marginalized, told verbally or non-verbally that their assertiveness is not appropriate. It actually is necessary because we need more women to be stronger and stand up… for justice, speak up for what we believe in. I think the Suffrage Movement probably had some Eights in there, am I right? I think so and we appreciate them, don't we?” - Michelle Fortin

“We're not attacking you with our brutal honesty and our assertiveness and directness. I am not being mean, I'm not hiding some secret or harboring some problem against you and being passive-aggressive. That is so not in our nature to be passive-aggressive we're aggressive-aggressive! So just know that for me, that's how I'm saying that I love you. Because it's showing that I care too much about you and this conversation to not just get to the heart of it.” - Sheila Jenkins

Type Eight Tips for Thriving: Share Your Tips!

I’m an Enneagram Type 3, and I’m always looking for ways to create better content. Share your tips for fellow Type Eights with me via direct message on Instagram @enneagramwithabbey.

The Queen of Enneagram Type 8s: Amy Poehler! 


We covered the challenges that can come with being a Type Eight. But this Enneagram type is celebrated by some of the coolest women around. Like the incomparable AMY POEHLER!

The queen of comedy and my heart, Amy Poehler is known for her comedy chops on SNL and Parks and Rec. Her memoir, "Yes, Please" was a #1 New York Times bestseller. She’s gone on to found her own production company, Paper Kite Productions (famous for a little show you might have heard of called BROAD CITY), and the website Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.

There is NOTHING this boss lady can’t do. Last year, she went on Late Night With Seth Meyers and discussed her experience with taking the Enneagram test. Amy is a Type Eight, and thrills in the Challenger role. She expressed how safety and security are important to her, and her confidence in situations that she has prepared for. In her words, “We got this!” 

So next time you’re feeling nervous that someone may look down on you for being assertive, follow the wise words of Amy Poehler: we got this!

Watch the Interviews with Enneagram type 8 women here: