Do Women Have to be Masculine to be Successful?

There are lots of articles discussing the strides Americans have made toward reaching equality of the sexes.  Statistics referencing the rise of women into executive positions are often cited when judging our progress.

Based on statistics, I’d say we’re headed in the right direction.  We haven’t achieved equality yet, but we’re trending in the right direction.

However, there is a more subtle trend that concerns me…

How many of the women leading Corporate America are more masculine than their male counterparts?

Have you noticed?

One of the principals in our company is a woman.  She is in her late 40’s and has clearly succeeded in a male dominated field.  Of our 7 owners she is also:

  • The worst opponent to part-time flexibility.
  • Only one who brags about coming to work with her 2 week old baby in the corner because of a project deadline.
  • Incredibly critical of any assertive female coming up through the ranks.
  • The most likely owner to fire someone, and
  • The owner most likely to make her direct reports work overtime.

What do you think?  Do you think women have to be tougher than their male peers in order to be successful?  Do you have any examples from your experience?

2 Responses to Do Women Have to be Masculine to be Successful?

  1. I see this often.

    Had this conversation with one of the principals in my company about a year ago:

    Her: “You should go to this training.”
    Me: “That training is in category A and my job is in category B. It would not benefit me.”
    Her: “It would benefit your boss if you go.”
    Me: “It would benefit my boss if HE goes.”
    Her: “You should still go.”
    Me: “That training is four weekends long. I pay a premium for daycare on the weekends. It would cost me approximately three times what I will be paid to attend these trainings in daycare. Further, my kids who are in school would only see me on Fridays for four weeks if I attend this training. It’s simply not an option.”
    Her: “Which is more important? Spending time with your family, which you can do later, or your career?”

    Yeah. Said principal is in her 50s, has never had children, wears pants all the time, has short hair, never spends time with any other women at work but often lunches with the men, and thinks we should all be career driven 24/7. But she’s a principal. So I guess maybe that worked for her.

    I’ve seen it in the past as well. When I was in high school, working retail, I watched my boss train an upcoming Assistant Manager who would be moving on to another store. After she left he said “She’ll never make it. Pretty women never do.” So is it really any wonder?

    With that I’ll end the longest comment in comment history!

    • Ugh, that is so frustrating! I do believe that pretty girls do get ahead faster at the lower ranks, but as you get toward the top, I wonder… I guess I am comforted that it’s not just me – but it is incredibly sad that women have had to give up the feminine traits in order to be successful. Hopefully one day soon, we’ll have integrated teams that take advantage of what WOMEN bring to the table – not just women dressed up and acting just like (and worse than) the men.

      Thanks btw for the long comment! I love it. I read your post today. I didn’t really know what to reply. I can commisserate, but that doesn’t do much…

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