Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Why Men Rule/ Women Drool

Denise sent me a link to this article about men being the preferred bosses at work:

Hillary Clinton might want to sit up and pay attention to results of our exclusive survey on attitudes in the workplace.

While Clinton hopes to smash through the ultimate glass ceiling to become the nation's first female president, the Work & Power Survey conducted by Elle and MSNBC.com suggests that stereotypes about sex and leadership are alive and well.

While more than half our 60,000 respondents said a person's sex makes no difference to leadership abilities, most who expressed a preference said men are more likely to be effective leaders.

Of male respondents, 41 percent said men are more likely to be good leaders, and 33 percent of women agreed. And three out of four women who expressed a preference said they would rather work for a man than a woman.

The survey, conducted early this year, found a bonanza of stereotypes among those polled, with many using the optional comment section to label women "moody," "bitchy," "gossipy" and "emotional." The most popular term for woman, used 347 times, was "catty."

Of course the real news is that the majority of people in the survey didn't care what the sex of their boss was, but that is not how the story was written. Or how the comments-section took it, either. And boy, but are the comments delicious reading for a feminist! I expected the usual Men's Rights Activists and wasn't disappointed. I also expected references to the poor oppressed ex-president-of-Harvard Summers and wasn't disappointed. But I was fairly astonished with the strength of anti-women comments and the argument that women indeed are overemotional bitches and therefore should stay at home, in total charge of minor children.

You know, I never got that. The people who really believe that women are incapable of leading or logic or of anything but backstabbing and gossiping and bursting into tears want these same people in SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of vulnerable minors! Imagine that.

In reading those comments, remember that the internet comments sections are not a fair sample of all opinions in the society. They are quite likely to vastly overrepresent trolls and the views of those who feel strongly on the topic. So I expected to find a lot of misogyny in this thread. But I wasn't quite as prepared for these types of comments:

The problem with this "stereotype" is that it isn't a stereotype at all! As a woman, I can tell you that of the numerous women bosses I have worked for, only one has been a true professional without the emotionalism, the bitchiness, and gossipy behavior that often characterizes women bosses. I have sworn time and again that I would never work for another woman yet I am currently working for one in a very high level position. Yes, she fits the "stereotype," but not to an extreme extent so working for her is not the nightmare experience I have had with some women. As a woman who has managed a division within an organization, I can tell you that what I have learned from my previous women bosses is what not to do and how not to act in the workplace. Hilary, based on past behavior, fits all the negative stereotypes. I pity the White House staff if she is elected.
I can't wait for the day that my boss is a man. I've had female bosses my entire career over several different companies and I'm tired. Yes, they fit the bill: bitchy, two-faced, emotional, gossipy and love to have "pet faves" in the office. Guys don't get into a whole lot of meaningless nonsense. Frankly, they don't have time for it. And for the record, I'm female. Smile
I am glad that the numbers are higher for men bosses than for females. There are tooooo many female bosses out there that I have noticed and I don't think that should be. There should be more men bosses than females because the Bible says that men are Rulers not females. If females were made to rule so much then that would make men look weak in my eyes. I am a female who feels this way very strongly and I am very Religious.

Now these commenters could well be men. There is no way of knowing on the Internet.
But if the writers indeed are women, note the "they" language in the first two posts. A woman writing about women calling them "they" sees herself as not part of "them". A woman deciding that women are bitchy, two-faced, emotional and gossipy, and this woman still thinks that someone would want to read HER opinions on anything?

It is a very sad example of the alienation the society manages to perform on some women.

What about the topic of the article itself? As I said earlier, the major message of it is that the gender of the boss does not matter for the majority of the respondents. But because more people prefer a male boss to a female boss the article then veers into the question of what might be wrong with female bosses. Note that we don't really get a discussion anywhere on what might be wrong with male bosses (or what might be good with female bosses), and so the comments begin with the assumption (unstated) that male bosses are good, and that all one needs to do is to point out the worst possible characteristics of female bosses to compare them to the good male boss. Although some comments later diverge from this, the topic is not set up as a neutral one, and it is not surprising that we don't get a balanced discussion.

How does one go about deciding that female bosses are worse or better than male bosses anyway? Most of us don't have a very large number of bosses of both genders during our working lives, so almost all these opinions are based on a very small number of people. How can one then assume that a bad boss was bad because of his or her gender and not because of some personal quirk? Surely prior prejudices feed into this.

I found the focus on women's presumed overemotionality fascinating. How do we decide that women are too emotional? Clearly, we base this on how men are being viewed, as just correctly emotional. But there is no objective measure of just-the-right-emotionality anywhere in the world, and one might as well argue that men are underemotional. Not that I'm arguing so; just pointing out the hidden premise in this story. Once again, I find it horrifying that the solution to these overemotional and illogical women messing up the career ladders is to send them home to rule over vulnerable children.