Just how many of us have heard ourselves or others around us whine about a dreaded female manager in our respective offices or workplace at some point of time?? Probably quite a few! She’s your typical snob, with a fast-paced trot (albeit in expensive heels!) , she has one eye on her Swiss watch & the other mascara-lashed eye on you ! Being a woman, she’s neither easily approachable to the minion-like men around her, nor is she liked by the jealous women beneath her! She commands respect but generates fear mostly! She’s your Indian version of Sandra Bullock in ‘The Proposal’ or maybe an older Meryl Streep in ‘The devil wears Prada‘! You can hate her , idolize her , gossip about her, but you just can’t ignore her! When she comes by your cubicle her Body Mist lingers on long after she’s gone, leaving behind a trail of new controversies and grudges! ‘Kamini aurat, zindagi jhand kar di hai!’ is how one male colleague might describe his manager to his friend, even though he probably dreamt about her the last night! ‘Dekho aa gayi Jhansi ki Raani, oh teri, Gucci ka bag laayi hai aaj!’ says one jealous woman to another as they eye their manager strutting past them with a tight lipped smile!
(image courtesy: www.kickasstoo.com)
Making of the ‘Myth’:
So why exactly is it so difficult being a woman manager? And as one of my friends asked me when I was taking a casual survey over Whatsapp, why at all should we even ask such a question? Isn’t that being sexist? Sets you thinking doesn’t it? Let me make it clear that the women I spoke about in the beginning were a very narrowly perceived caricature of the woman in power. There are many women CEOs out there who don’t bother about their appearance at all and will always have a ready, ‘almost warm’ smile for her employees. So WHY indeed this huge myth (if I may safely call it that) about the Satanic lady Boss with invisible horns and secret powers?! Is it just an aged notion that was created at a time when women were still taking baby steps into a male-dominated corporate world? When a woman CEO was unheard of? When the ladies would take an indefinite maternal leave and never join office again? Well, it probably is….or there probably are more Sandra Bullockish managers out there than the matronly ones! Whatever the root cause is, one can’t help but wonder at the prejudices surrounding a woman in a commanding post, even in today’s progressive society.
Women need to overcome hurdles not only at office but even in their personal lives, with marriage and kids taking their toll on her career and will power. Those who make it to the top seldom discuss the struggles they have left behind in their race to the top and hence the general opinion is that they’re snobbish and tough-nuts! Well consider the scenario of being given the responsibility of handling a husband, two kids who only eat when their mommy feeds them , in- laws who are skeptical about anything they do and parents who are perennially in need of their attention… just WHO would be able to manage a genuine smile through all of this? And when you are also in charge of hundreds of employees at work whose performance rating depends on you, I think that would turn a Mother Teresa into a Meryl Streep any day!!
Women who walked their talk:
Here’s a sneak peek into the minds of the top 4 successful women in the Indian corporate scene today:
Kirthiga Reddy (Head of Office, Facebook India) :
(image courtesy: yourstory.com)
When her second daughter, Ariya, was born and Kirthiga worried whether she would have to make a choice about excelling at work which involved travel or excelling as a mom and wanting to tend to her for the first year, “I decided I could do both. While a lot of travel was delegated, for the must-travel times, I travelled with her, and I found local day care wherever I went. When you decide something is important, it is amazing how nature conspires to make things happen for you. The message here is to create your own choices. To not accept the tyranny of the ‘or’ but embrace the power of the ‘and’,” she says.
Neelam Dhawan(MD , Hp India) :
(image courtesy: http://matpal.com/)
When asked about the challenges women face in their workplace she says ‘ The challenges which I see women face today are more internal to them, and also from the families rather than the business ecosystem. I’ll tell you what I mean: Women keep doubting their own capabilities…they lack confidence or they think they are not as good as the other person…that is an inherent trait. You have to ensure that doesn’t enter your thinking because you are equally as good as other women and men.’
Vanitha Narayanan (MD, IBM India Pvt Ltd):
(image courtesy: forbesindia.com)
The 54-year-old IBM India chief has risen from the ranks. She began her career at the company as a trainee, servicing telecom customer Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Missouri in the US. She spent 10 years working with this client. “It has defined my IBM career. It helped me lay a foundation – you respect the industry of your client and sometimes, the client is your best teacher,” says Narayanan, a management graduate specialising in management information systems.
Kumud Srinivasan (President, Intel India):
(image courtesy: www.livemint.com)
When asked about balancing work and family , she had this to say , ‘ Things are tougher in the earlier years because parenting tends to be a more involved activity then. At TechSparks I said, “Guilt is the curse of womanhood”. I have had my fair share of working through that over years and slowly learning to let go. But, three things helped me a lot. Persistence is one. It seems to me that there are times when life feels overwhelming and you just have to tell yourself to hang in there. The second is to be clear about one’s priorities and accept the trade-offs and I think that’s true for both men and women. It’s just that women agonize more over the trade-offs and this is where the guilt comes in. The third thing is to seek help with a support structure, both at home and work.’
All these women have one thing in common, they have worked their way up the ladder by their own hard work. None of them have famous lineage that might have acted as a propeller. They’re no different from ten other men who were in line for their positions. They were just smarter individuals and as each of them would assure you, it has absolutely nothing to do with their gender. Some might say that women are inherently good with people (hence the surge in lady HRs!) but being good with people is taught to everyone in schools irrespective of their sex, how does that make it a woman’s domain ?
To get a broader picture on the issue , I asked some friends of mine over Whatsapp what they thought of women managers. I received some very interesting replies(read hilarious!;)) from both women and men in different professions! Lets take a look at the best ones:
Male friend 1(Entrepreneur) –> ‘ Doesn’t matter if she is going through menopause or not , she always acts like she’s suffering from PMS!’
Male friend 2(IT Employee) –> ‘ If they’re hot they are good. And I like women. I have a woman manager at my home(my wife!!!).Both men and women bosses will torture you anyway.. might as well get bashed up by a hot woman!’
Female friend 1(Manager)–> ‘ They are born with the managerial qualities and a proper education makes them perfect for the job!’
Female friend 2(Business analyst)–> ‘ I guess being a good or bad manager doesn’t depend on gender. It depends on the maturity level,
Pros: compassionate, empathetic,unbiased
Cons:Let emotions come in the way, mood swings.’
Female friend 3(Team Lead)–> ‘ I am a woman manager. It is f***ing tough. The problem is that every time you are promoted, it seems you have slept with a level above. Beyond me, why caliber alone cannot propel a woman forward. Seriously. I am bypassing you in an interview, because I am better. Not. Because I am a woman!!’
[I am not sharing names to maintain confidentiality & to avoid getting my butt kicked by them!😉 Also you will notice that the ratio of male to female friends is a biased 2:3! 😛]
SO THERE YOU GO GUYZ…. it’s out in the open…. Whether you like it or not, women will take every opportunity they get to beat the hell outta their male counterparts and YES, that’s the crazy feminist in me speaking now. Before I lose it completely let me bid goodbye till the next post! 😉
Happy Weekend folks! :*