Many years ago, my Mom worked her way up through the ranks from Receptionist at a fiberboard mill to Logistics Mgr. for their parent company. She then earned a move to a sales management position at the corporate offices in Atlanta for the large paper company that had bought them out. I encouraged her pursuit of this promotion and the move that came with it. I also knew that HER new manager would be another woman, and was excited for the potential of that relationship in a male dominated field.
Unfortunately, my optimism was unfounded. "Bonnie", her new manager, was very threatened by my mother's intelligence, knowledge and work ethic. She did everything she could to make Mom look bad, and keep her in her place. The bad performance reviews she wrote stalled raises and blocked advancement potential. After two years of misery, Mom finally transferred over to another division to escape the toxic work environment. Because of this woman's insecurity and resulting behavior, I was mortified and terribly sorry I had ever encouraged my Mother to go for the brass ring.
I found myself in a discussion this week with a woman in a position of power who was struggling with another threatened female. In her case, she works in a male-dominated field and is the only woman at her authority level. She is an intelligent, attractive, vibrant individual with excellent interpersonal skills, well suited to the title she holds. Unfortunately, she has been put in a position of second-guessing herself because of the judgment of a wife of an individual in one of the peer organizations she coordinates with.
Rumor and innuendo are swirling about her being "too friendly" with her male counterparts. "Julie" has been happily married for 20 years. I know her, and can vouch for her character. NOTHING untoward has occurred, but her husband recently pointed out a group of wives at a social/work function whispering in the corner and clearly targeting their discussion at her. This is causing her great distress and making her second guess her management style and ability to be an effective leader.
I find both of these situations so disappointing! I recently reposted the article below on the challenges we face from within and from the "status quo" in a still male dominated business management structure.
Have we women not learned anything in the past 20 years? When will we be able to set aside our petty jealousies to admire and support one another, and rise above the catty high school gossip model? In the movie, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Morgan Freeman plays an ethical judge beset upon by an angry mob. In his fiery dressing down of the group, he says, "Decency is not a deal. It isn't an angle, or a contract, or a hustle! Decency... decency is what your grandmother taught you. It's in your bones! Now you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be Decent."
So ladies, take this away and reexamine your behavior towards womankind over your holiday week-end. Are we propping each other up, or tearing each other down? Together, we rise!