You Can CAll Me A Manly Woman. Just Don't Call Me A Bitch

BlogHer Original Post

Just a few days after Harvey Mansfield announced during an interview with Naomi Wolf that men distain working for women, The NY Daily News published a preview of the book, The Girls Guide to Being a Boss (without being a bitch). It will be available in early April.

Leigh Ann Ambrosi, the director of marketing and publicity at Sterling Publishing, said that at the beginning of her tenure she was a lot friendlier. "Now I am a quote-unquote bitch. I set more structured rules. I set meetings and deadlines that I didn't set at the beginning. I couldn't take charge being wishy-washy and being everyone's friend."

Further complicating the problem is the unrealistic level of emotional expectation that doesn't come into play as much with a male boss.

"A lot of the women we interviewed for the book," says Friedman, "thought if their female boss wasn't being 'nice' she must be being a 'bitch.' There is a lot of emotional language that surrounds this issue."

As women wonder why we have not succeeded in breaking through the glass ceiling,
could one of the key reasons be our acceptance of how we allow ourselves to be described in the workforce?

Could it be that the use of this emotionally imbued, gender specific word to describe women with authority is having the greatest impact on women's ability to succeed?
Could simply changing our corporate patois...simply eliminating the use of the word bitch from the workplace help to shift mindset?

While there is plenty written about the subject "Are Women Bosses,bitches?",There is very little written with the title " Is your boss a Dick?"--which in my mind is the male equivalent to bitch.

The question then becomes, What is the appropriate word to use instead of bitch? That would be,(thank you) Harvey Mansfield, " A Manly Woman."

By substituting bitch with , " A Manly Woman." we are imbuimg our behavior that is now described as "bitchy", with the positive characteristics that men have for Manly Men.
Over time, when a woman in power is described as , " A Manly Woman." instead of overlaying the negative connotations that bitch implies, the connotations will be positive.

There is plenty being said and written to reinforce the image that women can't manage as well as men and when they do they revert to bitchiness ">In The Guardian's blog, Esther Ranzen writes

And too often it's the women who are doing the bullying. In my experience, a lot of the men have learned to treat people better than their predecessors did. The male tyrants who once barked out orders liberally spattered with the f-word left the television companies, presumably to take charge of restaurant kitchens or become tabloid newspaper editors. They were replaced with kindly, collaborative "new men" who displayed pictures of their babies on their office walls. But, at the same time, many "new women" seemed to move in the opposite direction. Whether it was to compensate for a perceived feminine weakness, or because they were modelling themselves on the worst of the men, or just because there resides in many women the capacity to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West, too many have adopted the hectoring style of The Weakest Link.

Almost eight years ago, in the days prior to blogs, Kathleen J. Wu wrote about women managers for the Andrew Kurth website.
The title of her article " Are women really bitchy bosses?"

But the complaints I hear most often about women bosses have less to do with being too nice than being too demanding. Actually, demanding isn't the word most people use. It's "pushy," "bossy," or, worse, "bitchy."

From where I sit, the person to blame for this perception is more likely to be the employee than the supervisor. I'm sure there are women bosses who throw their weight around for the wrong reasons, just as many male managers do the same thing. And truly outlandish behavior is usually seen as such whether the supervisor is male or female.

Where women managers are treated unfairly is when they are neither cream puffs nor tyrants, but somewhere in between. Nobody holds it against a man, for instance, when he's curt and doesn't spend much time asking how his associate's weekend was or inquiring about her family. In fact, his "businesslike" demeanor is likely to be respected and may be a reason for his success. But a woman who keeps her professional distance from those who work for her is likely to be labeled a "bitch."

And then there was this press release Women Bosses From Hell? from the Behavior Sciences Research Press who survey 150 managers in Fortune 500 companies

Fifty-four percent of the managers surveyed said it didn't matter to them whether they worked for a man or a woman. But those who expressed a preference had an unexpected opinion. Seven in ten said they would rather work for a man than a woman. Why? Their reasons varied, but their comments on women managers had a common thread: "Backstabbing," "Gossip-focused." "Not as supportive as men." "Crisis creator."

According to Donia, "There may be more bitching than bonding going on among aspiring career women."

The irony,of course, is that there is plenty of research indicating women make fabulous bosses. In an article published in Human Resource Executive Magazine the research puts women bosses in a positive light.

In what they say is a first-of-its kind study, three academics reviewed 45 published and unpublished studies conducted between 1985 and 2002, all of which examined whether men and women manage differently.

Based on this analysis, they concluded women bosses are more likely to be "transformational" leaders - defined as bosses who mentor, inspire and foster innovation and teamwork. In contrast, male bosses were more likely to be categorized as having a "transactional" style - defined as appealing to subordinates' self-interest and using reward and punishment as incentives.

Men also dominated another style of managing, which they called the "laissez-faire" style - i.e. managing by not managing - the researchers said.

And,from an An Australian Study,

Women bosses are more caring and sharing - it's official. But only if there's no queen bee.

New research shows women at the top make a difference if workplaces have enough of them.

The queen bee, or token female boss, can make little impact on workplace culture, because they are more likely to act like a man, pull up the web of opportunity so other women cannot climb it, and make male colleagues feel uptight.

But put a critical mass of women into senior roles, and men start to relax and management culture starts to change for the better. There is less shouting and table-thumping in the executive suite, more nurturing, and team-building.

So, if you happen to hear someone calling another woman at work "a bitch," today. Just smile, and suggest instead, that they call her , " A Manly Woman."

In the immortal words of lyricist by Johnny Mercer

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between


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