The Rare ISTP Female

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“It’s no use trying to intimidate me…I have no sense of fear.”
– Yulia Tymoshenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine and rumored ISTP

For the ISTP female, life can feel a little bit like falling down an unfamiliar rabbit hole. ISTP girls are often seen as “tomboyish” or “unusual” and pressured to fit into a more stereotypical nurturing role. Many ISTP women feel like fish out of water throughout their day-to-day lives and are not recognized for their unique strengths and contributions.

ISTP women comprise only 2.3% of the population. They are known for their private nature, their deep analytical abilities, and their quick wits.  The ISTP woman has an incredible number of strengths, but also some struggles that they have to deal with in a world that expects women to fit a more traditional feeling role.

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The ISTP Female and Isolation

ISTP female

ISTPs are known for being reserved and pragmatic. They make decisions based on impersonal analysis rather than worrying about value-laden or emotion-driven criteria. This characteristic alone tends to set ISTP females apart from the majority of other women. 75.5% of women in the U.S. are feeling types, which means that the majority of women are going to make decisions based on personal values and/or the harmony of others. While there’s nothing wrong with this preference, it leaves thinking females feeling isolated or misunderstood in their surroundings.

Historically speaking, there are very few ISTP women spoken of in history or in books. The ISTP woman or young girl may feel that there are very few literary females or role models that she can identify with. Many ISTPs are identified as “handymen”, and more traditional types may see the ISTP’s interests as “unladylike”. Countless ISTP women have felt pushed and prodded into a role that conforms to a more traditional feeling role.

The young ISTP girl will probably favor climbing trees over throwing tea parties, she will more likely spend her allowance on books or roller blades than dolls or nail polish. While these interests should be met with joy, many parents feel they must continue to coerce these girls to enjoy more classically “feminine” pursuits. ISTPs who are accepted and recognized for their strengths can be nearly unstoppable in their gifts, skills, and abilities.

“I’ve always felt like a failure because I can’t process emotions like my other friends do. When I finally discovered I was an ISTP I felt such a sense of relief in knowing I was just a normal ISTP, and nothing was wrong with me.”
– Kathy, an ISTP

“Draining” the Inferior Function

ISTPs can strategically use their feeling preference (Extraverted Feeling is their inferior function) however, they don’t enjoy dwelling on their own emotions for long and they prefer to make decisions based on logical analysis over values. Having to take in an excess of emotional stimulation from others can be frustrating and draining for the ISTP. Surrounded by more typical feeling females, the ISTP woman may feel overburdened by having to continually depend on her inferior function to navigate the emotional waters of her friends. Long term, the ISTP can experience stress and overwhelm as a result of heavy leaning on Fe. That said, many ISTP females enjoy relationships with feeling types as long as their friends are open-minded and don’t push them to conform to their own preferences.

Many ISTP females I’ve spoken with prefer to spend time with their male friends, where they have a much greater chance of meeting a like-minded soul. 41.7% of the male U.S. population are ST types, and it can be refreshing for the ISTP to enjoy the companionship of people who process information and make a decision in a similar way.

ISTP Female Career Field Struggles

ISTP women are often drawn to technical career fields and enjoy jobs that provide tangible rewards and physical hands-on opportunities. I found this article online that says, “But by breaking from societal norms, they find themselves in direct competition with their male colleagues. It is sad that when an ISTP woman excels at work, so far removed from traditional roles, it becomes major news, whether it is a women who gets a court order to become a municipal firefighter or a sports reporter who finds herself in a locker-room dispute. Such over-dramatization, while perhaps encouraging to other ISTP women, tends to make the individual the exception instead of the norm for a considered section of the population. Furthermore, with the media involved, sides tend to be taken immediately – men versus women — and the real occupational desire and the potential contribution of the ISTP gets lost in the process.”

ISTP women that I’ve spoken with have excelled in numerous career fields; I’ve met entrepreneurs, artists, surgeons, and auto mechanics. Many said they had to jump through several hurdles to be accepted in more male-dominated environments.

The Strengths of the ISTP Woman

ISTP females have a lot of unique gifts to offer the world. It’s really a shame they make up such a small percentage of the population because we could use more women with their strengths!

#1 – ISTPs are Excellent Troubleshooters

You’ll rarely find an ISTP woman waiting for someone else to come along and solve a problem. They are independent and excellent at getting to the root of an issue. They tend to keep a steady head in a crisis and focus on logical analysis and quick, dependable resolutions.

“Being thrown into the deep end is the best way to do something.”
– Anna Kendrick, a rumored ISTP

#2 – ISTPs are Physically Adept

Not all ISTPs are athletes or warriors, but many of them have great physical coordination and awareness. Dario Nardi, a UCLA professor who has done studies on the neuroscience of different personality types, has said that ISTPs are the most adept of all the personality types at integrating visual-kinesthetic data. Nardi says that they use brain regions that give them sharp object identification skills and motor skills such as aim.  The ISTP female is often able to perform “handyman” tasks without much trouble and has a certain grace and coordination that makes her excel in athletics, art, dance, or in medical or technical career fields.

#3 – ISTPs Are Non-Judgmental

While ISTPs may not seem especially warm or exuberant to everyone, they can actually be very open-minded friends. They like to take their time before making judgments and they prefer to “live and let live.” You’ll rarely see an ISTP gossiping about someone or talking badly behind someone’s back.

#4 – ISTPs Have a Logical Focus

ISTPs lead with a mental process called Introverted Thinking (Ti). They are quick to understand logical principles and enjoy expanding their knowledge base and organizing and classifying an internal library of solutions and facts. If you want an unbiased, logical perspective on a decision, the ISTP is the one to go to.

“A bit of logical thinking gets me through something particularly hard…Then I recover very quickly. I’m not a ‘dweller.”
– Emily Blunt, a rumored ISTP

#5 – ISTPs Are Realistic and Down-to-Earth

The ISTP female is an extreme realist. She takes what is and makes the most of it, often seeing opportunities where others don’t. The ISTP is aware of what’s needed in the moment, what makes the most practical sense, and how to invest her energy wisely.  This down-to-earth realism is often matched with a witty, clever sense of humor.

“I think my head’s on pretty straight, and I’m pretty realistic about things.”
– Scarlett Johansson, a rumored ISTP


In Conclusion…

ISTP women may have a tough road to travel to reach understanding and acceptance from their peers and families. However, with their own self-acceptance and confidence, they can be much-needed forces for improvement in the world. Their quick-wits, their logical thinking abilities, their realistic focus and overall resourcefulness make them intriguing and impressive individuals.

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type or The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Sources (Book links are affiliate links):

The Art of SpeedReading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language
Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People
Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child’s Personality Type – And Become a Better Parent

Get an in-depth look at the strengths and struggles of the rare #ISTP woman!

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  1. Good article. I am an ISTP female and I have often felt misplaced in the world when comparing myself to other women. I don’t have quick access to my emotions and when asked how I feel about something it can take a few days to logically figure out exactly how I feel. I’m a complete realist, live in the moment and enjoy adventurous activities. I’ve had to work at not comparing myself to other feeling women because I have gifts they do not have and that makes me unique.

    1. I’m really glad you enjoyed the article. I’m sorry you’ve often felt misplaced, comparing is so difficult, especially when such a vast majority use a different preference! ISTP females are a rare and much-needed type in our world! It’s a shame there aren’t more of them 🙂

  2. As a kid, I never struggled with comparing myself to other females, because I was fortunate to grow up around boys. I was always one of them. My dad owns his own landscaping company, so I spent a lot of time outside playing in dirt, making forts, and running through the woods. When distant relatives gave me dolls, I’d build houses for them and lose interest from there. Legos were the best and Mulan was one of my favorite Disney characters.

    Where I did struggle was with not realizing my inner feelings and not understanding why I don’t have the same motivations and interests as others in general. I’m more of an independent explorer who is content with the personal challenges and experience instead of trying to lead/manage others. I’ll problem solve all day long, but ask me to maintain something and my interest dwindles. Discovering that I’m an ISTP was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I am different and there is nothing wrong with that.

    To this day, the vast majority of my friends are males. I just can’t relate to other female’s interests and concerns, so it would be awesome to meet another ISTP female.

    1. Problem solving and adaptability are definitely two of my strengths as a female ISTP. I challenge myself to complete objectives, just to see if I can do them. One was to record a solo album. Once that was done, I decided to study law. When I’m working towards completing a challenge, my interest in doing so keeps me focused to the point of being obsessed, but as soon as it is achieved, my interest wanes. Since high school, I’ve found I’m great with assignments and project work, and lack focus when having to complete required reading or reading theoretical books. I can comprehend them easily enough, but I will refer to them if and when I need to.

      As for relating to other women, I have trouble due to a lack of common interests. I rely on my sarcastic and acerbic humour to get me by. Otherwise, I will keep to myself.

    2. I’m happy to have found this conversation. I am also a girl with the same type of personality and have had the same struggles relating to other girls.

    3. I feel the same way and I’m a 26 year old ISTP woman. Most women in my experience have been dramatic about things I just don’t care about, as well as overly competitive with one another for trivial things like male attention and what not. As a result I’ve always been one of the guys and found that the only type of women that get me tend to be logically inclined.

      It would be nice to meet one in my area that’s level headed that I can relate to, though.

  3. I have known I was an ISTP female for 30 years. At 4 years old, I remember my fascination on opening my grandfather’s toolbox and selecting the red wooden knobbed hand drill and intently driving the bit over and over again into the dirt. I never desired dolls and yet I was still a girl who only wore “play dresses”. I rode a bike before my 5th birthday and then with 7 older brothers I learned how to use tools for bicycle maintenance and repairs. At age ten I completely stripped my bike of it’s parts just to paint it pink.

    Life at home was fun, stimulating and filled with activity. Primary school however was difficult and isolating for me. While I learned to tolerate these years and performed well in scholastics and sports, I felt alone and even mocked. Work life can often feel the same. Most others are not open to non traditional females. We have traits more common to me. OtWomen can feel threatened by our This article was enlightening. My type is an extreme minority a

  4. I’ve always gotten either ISTP or ISTJ when taking the MBTI. I feel like some of both. I definitely don’t seek out dangerous situations but I believe in freedom and giving other people space. I was in the Air Force. I worked on airplanes. I loved the problem solving part of that job. Then I got a degree in education so I could teach Math, which I love, but I find dealing with people draining and frustrating. I was thinking of going to school to be an electrician but I’m 36, so I feel too old and I’m a woman who lives in the South. GRR.

  5. I am an ISTP female and this fits me to a T! I work in construction management and am literally often the only female at the table. I’m generally misunderstood–much to my own bafflement. I feel like an open book!

  6. I am an ISTP female and I wish I had known about this while growing up. While choosing a course in college, I was really lost because I felt like I could do anything and I will excel in most – cant choose just one. My family was suggesting I take courses taken by the female majority but there was no appeal. I now have a career in HR systems where I think ISTP females can excel. Working with technology in an domain where there are more women seems like a good fit for me. I hope to continue working with analytics and I hope to see more ISTP women in those areas.

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