Jacinda Ardern says she wants to challenge the assumption that if women take a leap into a top job they're going to be resilient and tough, with the character traits required to just fit in and get on with it.
The Prime Minister was speaking to the Unitec Women in Leadership Group today in her Mt Albert electorate.
She said in politics, and in opposition in particular, there's an expectation "that you'll collect scalps, that you'll be the toughest person in the room, that success is bringing some one else down".
"And that was never how I wanted to do politics."
Ms Ardern said she chose "just to be myself and be comfortable with who I was and how I wanted to do the job and just put up with the fact people would say they didn't think I was doing it properly.
"I felt more comfortable just being who I am and seeing where it would take me. So that made it a little bit easier for me."
Ms Ardern said: "The reason I feel so strongly about us continuing to challenge those assumptions, regardless of the career you're in, is because if we don't start carving our own paths then what about the next person who comes in and wants to be themselves in that role and wants to bring their own personality traits which might not be that ego overly super confident loudest person in the room?"
"And so that I think is another challenge for us because the moment women start carving our own paths then there will be women who look at that role and say 'I'm a bit like them and they're doing it so perhaps I can do it too'."
Ms Ardern advised women to "just say yes" to opportunities, and when making decisions to seek out mentors.