• I Could Never Work for a Woman

    If there was a single phrase I could eradicate in the workplace, it would be this one: I could never work for a woman.

    Gasp.

    On the contrary, I’ve NEVER heard anyone say this: I could never work for a man.

    If the latter statement were ever declared, people would mock the person. They’d think it was silly. I can hear the laughs now. Well, good luck, they would say, in getting very far in your career with that thinking. But yet, I’ve heard both men and women say they could never work for a woman. And, oftentimes, it’s considered a valid statement, with the person or persons launching into discussions on how the leader didn’t have this or that trait attributed to gender.

    It’s disheartening that in 2015 there is still gender slandering, and that more of us, especially women, are not aghast.

    As I was contemplating this statement, I did a simple Google search by typing in the phrase, “I could never work for a woman” and here are the top articles that came back in the search engine:

    Wow, that’s quite a list, cumulating in the last one on the topic of “why women should never work!” To make it worse, not all of these articles were written by men. To think that women are perpetuating this sentiment is even more disheartening.

    To be fair, as part of my research, I then tried reversing the query, typing in the phrase, “I could never work for a man” and there were no matching results remotely related to the topic! In fact, the top result referenced quotes by Confucius.

    Seriously, men get articles tied to philosophers and women get a list of articles about how to cope with a female manager?

    A 2013 Gallup study measured American workers’ preference in having a male or female boss. Among those who have a preference (roughly 60%), American workers prefer working for a male boss over a female boss by 12 percentage points. The preference manifests in both men and women. Perhaps surprisingly, women are even more likely to have a preference in having a male or female boss and when they do, they are more likely to choose working for a man. I’d like to imagine a future when studies like these aren’t even conducted, as American workers find no reason to correlate a gender preference quotient in management.

    Results of yet another study, conducted in 2010 by the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, indicated that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time — up 9% since 2007. Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.

    Workplace bullying should never be accepted, but why is it that women are so much more harder on other women? We’re not doing much to support our own success and we’d do so much better uniting instead of attacking. So what does this all mean? And what are we to do?

    1. For starters, we can work to increase our gender intelligence, something I’ve written about in the past. One of the most important discussions women can have in the workplace involves educating our colleagues about gender intelligence. We should work on creating gender-intelligent workplaces, which includes speaking up when gender stereotyping occurs.
    2. Support women in leadership positions. Everyone has their own leadership style, which is influenced by experiences in our personal and professional lives. Women can have certain leadership tendencies, and communication styles, just as men can. Women tend to be conditioned differently, and studies have demonstrated how early childhood influences can affect women’s leadership abilities in adulthood. To that end, if there is an area where you notice a leader has a perceived deficiency, find a way to discuss it with her. Let’s start to build up our women leaders to support them in areas of growth, especially if the challenge has a tendency to be attributed to gender.

    There are all types of managers. Some are effective and others need work. However, it doesn’t do us any good to correlate gender as the reason why a female manager may not be effective. Over the years, we have become more enlightened and no longer accept other derogatory statements. I believe we can change this one. Let’s leave gender out of the equation.