Female Bosses: Demons or Angels – what the women have to say (Part II)
Let me begin this piece by saying that no one is superior or inferior as compared to the other by the virtue of their gender. What make one good at what they do is in fact subject matter knowledge, hard (or smart) work, tenacity and sincerity among many other traits. That is how one reaches a leadership position in their careers. In part two of this blog I explored the other side of the coin, straight from the horse’s mouth, women themselves who are in commanding positions at work. They are large managing teams, in various industries, with mixed genders.
Suchitra Laxman, Associate Director in a Strategy Consulting Firm clarifies, “I have been relatively lucky when it comes to how I’m perceived at work. I’ve not really faced significant challenges in getting junior team members to take me seriously or treat me with the same regard as a male manager. And I’ve definitely not faced any generic discontent or power struggle just because I’m a female manager.” Like most of the women I spoke with, she does say that it was harder to be accepted at the beginning of the career thus the resistance of acceptance initially comes from male peers, “If at all, I have faced some issues, it’s from male peers. May be it’s tougher for men to treat a woman as equal. Whereas with juniors, they already know I have more experience & expertise, it’s not that difficult for them to take me seriously. But even with peers, after working together for a short while, the situation usually changes and they accept me, of course there have been a few people who never come around, but that is really rare.” She concludes by saying, “May be it’s the generation gap and the men in the younger generation are more accepting than men in my generation.”
Another woman in a managerial position from the Banking Industry, when asked if women managers are viewed differently at work place presented one very contrary view to that of the previous, she said “Yes. We are perceived as evil ones as compared to our male counterparts. ‘Male bosses are any day better’ is what I’ve heard all my life.” She also believes that a woman has to go that extra mile to prove her worth in comparison to her male counterpart, it frustrates her, “I really don’t care much & view this as a mental block on part of the person I’m dealing with. You don’t get to choose your parents AND bosses.” Similarly to a few other women that I spoke with she has been subjected to a power struggle within the team when she was chosen to lead a team over her male colleagues, “There was a lot of drama when my boss chose me to lead after him and didn’t pick a male colleague.”
Substantiating the above predicament another Senior Management employee at an MNC says, “We are perceived more bitchy n moody compared to our male counterparts also perception is that we are weaker in taking tough actions which leads us to be more stricter than male counterparts.” She also elaborates, “We are dealing with a double edged sword here, the women in the team expect us to be more compassionate towards them and be kinder to them than the male team members whereas we are already dealing with the stigma of seeming weaker than male bosses. To seem unbiased, it ends up with us putting in that additional effort in team bonding.”
All the women I spoke with agreed on one point that it was tougher for them to prove themselves and reach a point in career where they could lead teams. When a female employee joins a company she is naturally looked as dispassionate towards her role as compared to a male in the same position and similar point in time in career. A few women agreed that this gender barrier disappears as they progress in their career leaving a trail of good work and exceptional accomplishments. For many women though that gender prejudice doesn’t disappear although they have medals on the chest to corroborate their achievements. They still continue slogging to prove that they deserve to be where they are and are actually good at what they do.
I can quite agree with the part of having to prove ourselves at every step of the way. Just recently, at a meeting, a male prospective client was explaining to me what branding is, which, if I may clarify, I have been doing for the last decade and a half. ‘Mansplaining’ is something, we as women are subjected to constantly, irrespective of whether its workplace, friend circle or home.
There is a ray of hope considering there are women who haven’t faced any kind of resistance at work with their teams or peers; however low the number of such cases is. In conclusion, we still have a long long way to go for viewing women as equals in workforce. There is definitely a difference in the outlook when you view this across industries, cities and socio-economic backgrounds. Once women are looked at as an individual without the gender perception we can move on to pay parity, which is yet another sore point.
Do share with us any personal experience or comments on this topic.
PS: I had originally named the article – Bitches or Angels… the reason for doing that was to drive home a point by emphasizing the colloquially used terms for women.
A Bitch – A woman who is opinionated and self driven, will not conform to stupid ideas and ideologies, does not take bullshit.
An Angel – A woman, who would go out of her way to do things for you, is always politically correct, people pleaser.
However, it seems Facebook along with some people took offense to the term ‘bitch’ and thought it was profane hence we changed the title to be accepted according to FB’s policy. Please take a moment in respect of all the women who are called a ‘bitch’ in their regular life for being independent and excellent.
Image credit – www.quora.com (inside image)
- Srushti Rao
- August 2, 2017
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