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Mind If I B*tch a Bit?

I’d love to get some feedback on the following issue; I’m not sure if this is a female thing, or if men have experienced this bizarre phenomenon as well.

I’ve heard from several people recently that their female managers are ‘really mean,’ citing examples like putting employees down and even blaming them in situations in which they weren’t involved. Most of these conversations have taken place with women, though not all. To add to that, I recently spoke with a great businesswoman who should have been promoted to high level management, but her female manager passed her over for the promotion because “she wasn’t mean enough.” I’m not kidding — that’s a direct quote.

Kindness Counts

Why is it that some women think they need to be mean to be a good manager? I have had some great managers and mentors in my career — both male and female — and the best ones, hands down, have always been kind. They have not managed from a place of fear but from a place of support. They’ve let me make decisions; they’ve let me fail but have always provided me with a safety net so I never crashed too badly.

I’m sure we can do more as women in the workforce to support and help one another rise to our potential; and we should be promoting positive ways of doing so. I love following CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT community posts; it is great to see women and men supporting one another equally.

ADDENDUM: This week I was lucky enough to see that this issue is not the case everywhere. I spent about three hours with several women who work together; their team is made up entirely of women. And they loved it. The level of respect they showed one another (and me) and the level of character each woman brought to the table on behalf of their company, was awesome. I hope in my journey at ChannelE2E I get to see a lot more of this supportive structure, and I hope you all do as well.

Amy KatzThanks for listening to my little rant…

Amy Katz is a technology entrepreneur who has launched, built and sold a range of IT media platforms. As president and CEO of After Nines Inc., she oversees business development, sales and finance for the overall company and ChannelE2E. Read all of her blogs here.

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4 Comments

Comments

    Michelle Ragusa-McBain:

    Firstly, as Vice-Chair of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT Community, I am very happy to hear your feed back about our community and posts. We absolutely try to bridge the gap and create an equal playing field and opportunities for men and women alike.

    Thank you for bringing up a very Interesting perspective which is often discussed within our communities and members. Let me begin by saying, of course women tend to be outnumbered in the IT field (significantly), in fact in the last 10 years women entering a career in IT has not only plateaued, but declined. We hope to change that through mentorship, advocacy, and conversations such as this.

    Sheryl Sandberg discussed a similar topic in her book “Lean In” whereby women who act a certain way are perceived as “mean” or b*tchy, while a man who perceives in the precise same way is celebrated for his leadership. Is it in fact the women that is being “mean” or just the perception of a strong authority that is misunderstood.

    Personally, some of my best mentors have been senior women in leadership. Why? They get it. They recognize my efforts, hard work and support me – not because I am a woman, but in spite of it. It is absolutely necessary to have champions who can mentor and guide you throughout your professional career (no matter the stage or experience, we can always afford to learn something new).

    Were the women you aforementioned directly told those quotes, or was it their perception? Let’s examine some options- what if a man and woman leader felt the same way about promoting the individual- but she voiced her opinion and he did not. Is this now considered constructive criticism? Or perhaps it would have been more helpful to provide clear actionable items on how she might improve her perception to get ahead. Or, maybe it would be best to say you disagree and would love the opportunity to prove you don’t have to be mean to be talented, determined, and successful… or maybe it’s time for a skip level.

    It is my honest opinion that the more women support each other, the better it will be to share perspective, insight, experiences, and support. However, as men are typically the majority it is equally important they too take an active role to understand that regardless if you are a man, or a woman, you can be successful with the right encouragement and opportunities. It is not too often I hear of a man being promoted because he is kind, or a woman being looked over because she is too nice, or not mean enough. These stereotypes (real or imagined) are the very road blocks which inhibit the success of individuals and the overall organizations.

    Regardless of your chromosomes we all potentially can be great contributors. There is an absolute proven statistical benefit to having diversity in the work place, and unique ideas to help the company grow and become successful- as well as target an audience who is also diverse. It is the hope that some day we will not be judged by our gender, but by the person we are, the history we have built our success on, and the opportunity for the future of what we can contribute. It is the hope that managers can look past these things and encourage you to be your best, and support you on your journey by being fair and kind wouldn’t hurt :).

    Amy Katz:

    Michelle, thanks so much for your comment and your perspective. I want to answer your questions and comment back on some of your points.

    – Quote v. Perception: Michelle, believe it or not, that was a direct quote from her manager. The manager looked her employee in the eyes and told her that she was qualified for the position, but wasn’t mean enough for the lead managerial job.
    – Mean v. Authoritative: There is a huge difference, I agree. And I do believe woman should be authoritative, take part in the conversation and be confident. I also believe that this can be done (by woman or man) without being mean, demeaning or confrontational.
    – Does Gender Matter: Clearly, we agree on this. Gender should not matter – skillset, passion, ambition, drive and work ethic matter.

    Bottom line: it takes a good leader, female or male, to manage well. But, if women are demeaning to their staff, it hurts us all in the long run.

    Thanks again for the readership and for everything you do for women in IT and women in business.

    N:

    Amy, this comment is spot on:
    – Mean v. Authoritative: There is a huge difference, I agree. And I do believe woman should be authoritative, take part in the conversation and be confident.

    It’s been my experience that because there so few women in the office, some women would rather talk down to, or talk bad about other women just to gain brownie points with the men in the office.

    When you are strong and confident there is no need to gain recognition from anyone by being mean.

      Amy Katz:

      Thanks N for your comment. You make a good point and we appreciate your readership and participation on the site.

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