ISTJ personalities make up 12% of the general population. ISTJ women claim 7% of this personality, while 16% of ISTJs are men. Running on pure statistics, it might surprise you that we make up so large a personality population. Odds are, you know an ISTJ. It’s also a safe bet to say that if you aren’t paying attention, you don’t know that you know her.

In 2022, not only gender stereotypes, but other varieties of assumptions, are still alive and well. ISTJs don’t corner the market on being misunderstood, not by a long stretch. But we can all be taken by surprise when someone makes an assumption about us, and the root cause is almost always a preconceived idea or bias that walked into the room when they did, not necessarily something we did, said, or are.

Gender plays into a lot of the reasons ISTJ women are misunderstood. If society at large tells you that feminine (or any label) appears or behaves in a certain manner, nonconformity will trigger a question mark. The irony here is that ISTJs are the Inspectors. If anything seems out of place, we will notice it first.

It behooves us as ISTJs to both understand and stand up for who we are. We are lovers of routine and harmony. We are incredibly feminine. We embrace traditional gender roles. We love to categorize and place things into tidy little boxes.

But we are also the ones to reevaluate a system and give it some necessary updates when things aren’t working. I’ll tell you what I love more than flowers or candy: respect. In a man, we rarely question these traits. In a woman, they are regularly misunderstood.

1.  ISTJ women are misunderstood when we don’t behave like a simpering damsel in distress. 

We are the shero, thank you very much. Crises do not deter us from our objectives. Intelligent, impressive, and independent should not translate into intimidating or arrogant. But it often does.

2.  ISTJ women are misunderstood when we act like we don’t need you. 

Maybe sit down for this one. This does not translate into “we don’t want you.” Internally driven, we have no need for micro management, opinions, or gossip, therefore we are written off as aloof, cold, or even hostile. We would love to hang out with you, we just don’t enjoy idle chit chat.

3. ISTJ women tend to position themselves in ways that don’t rely on others. 

We are misunderstood when we ask for what we need. I have been accused of having no soul by my own angry daughter, but terms like nit-picky, bossy, or nagging are also terms of endearment used when the ISTJ’s need for quality work or timely actions are taken personally.

4. ISTJ girls are misunderstood when they aren’t interested in fashionista clothes. 

Or shopping, radical hairstyles, or raging slumber parties. We aren’t girly girls who need to be in the popular group at school and pay a high emotional price for being misunderstood as…well, the labels during this fragile time of growth can hurt. ISTJ girls like the traditional roles of the feminine world, but we don’t feel the need to prove it to anyone.

5. ISTJ moms are misunderstood when they don’t brag about their kids.

ISTJs moms don’t fawn, flatter, or conform to be in the trendy mom groups or exert energy to push their kids into the spotlight unearned. We expect our kids to achieve their goals on their own merits and it’s misunderstood as a lack of caring or even called poor parenting. We neither bubble nor brag, but we manage to parent well all the same.

6. ISTJ women don’t allow feelings to cloud our judgment. 

ISTJ women make practical, logical decisions, and are misjudged as having not taken feelings into consideration. Of course we considered the emotions involved, but we superseded them with action. Instead of talking about emotions, we do something about them. Just because you won’t see us working through emotions doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

7. ISTJ women have their high standards misconstrued as competition.

When an ISTJ woman is working her career like a boss, striving to be her personal best, and raising the bar in her industry, she is misunderstood as competition. We tend to trigger a fight-or-flight response. Our perfectionism is never about you, but about our own internal goals. We make incredibly supportive colleagues and fiercely loyal mentors.

8. An ISTJ woman is always working, even when she’s relaxing. 

Unless you know us well, the misunderstanding comes in the idea that we never have fun, that we’re in a rut or are a boring old stick in the mud. The traditions and routines in our world support a greater cause: to have a great life. We’re organized so we can go out and have fun—we work first and play second. It’s our own version of balance and it makes us happy.

9. An ISTJ wife won’t coddle you. 

Love you, respect you, support you, yes, but it looks more like giving advice or practical actions as opposed to a shoulder to cry on. Nurturing behavior in the ISTJ looks like taking you on adventurous hikes, cooking from scratch, and reminding you to get the oil changed in the car. If you bring her a problem, expect her to try to fix it. Because she loves you.

10.  The ISTJ woman tells the truth and never are we more misunderstood. 

So much so, that if we can’t say something nice, we won’t say anything at all. Sugar coating is for cookies. ISTJ women aren’t going to fib to make you feel good or further our own personal cause. Telling the truth is our highest form of respect. We don’t trade on tact.

11.  Our strong opinions are misunderstood.

If you have the friendship of an ISTJ woman, don’t misunderstand her constantly voiced opinions. She isn’t criticizing, she is showing where improvements will advance your cause. She is contributing and coaching, not complaining. She isn’t telling, she’s teaching. There isn’t anything you’ll hear that we haven’t already exhorted to ourselves. We want our people to win.

12.  An ISTJ woman’s sense of humor is often misunderstood.

It leans into dark and sarcastic, rueful observations of the world around us. Because we point out the ridiculous and laugh at incongruous behaviors, it’s easy to offend people. If we didn’t like you, we’d avoid you. If you catch us laughing at you, it’s because we feel safe doing so—that is, we seriously love hanging out with you.

ISTJ women are rebels with the best cause. Although we love harmony and tradition, our behaviors occasionally challenge gender and other societal expectations and we live with a lot of misunderstandings because of it.

We don’t need your approval but it would be really nice to have it.

Jolie Tunnell
Jolie Tunnell is an author, freelance writer and blogger with a background in administration and education. Raising a Variety Pack of kids with her husband, she serves up hard-won wisdom with humor, compassion and insight. Jolie is an ISTJ and lives in San Diego, California where she writes historical mysteries. Visit her at