MEN FIND IT DIFFICULT OT DEAL WITH STRONG, CAPABLE WOMEN COLLEAGUES! BUT IS THIS REALLY A GENDER ISSUE?
Is it true that men constantly try to pull down women at the workplace? Why? Perhaps they do so because they consider the office, and in particular, the corridors of power, their original territory! And a woman walking down the same corridor is something they still haven’t got used to.
Or, maybe men are convinced that women are inferior, and so give them short shrift. Or, is it because knowing the weakness of their own sex, men fear that susceptible male bosses may give women colleagues more attention and bigger promotions?
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that a woman with a strong personality and even average looks can strike terror in the hearts of male colleagues for no fault of hers. If a woman has a mind of her own and dares to question a decision or make a point strongly, she is instantly labelled “enemy” for she has violated the traditional code of conduct between the sexes! And so as a protective response, men label her “difficult to work with”, “hard to get along”, “tough to handle” or “not willing to listen”. This is the global mantra of guys who find it difficult to accept a woman on an equal footing, intellectually or professionally.
Most women professionals realize early on that in order to be heard and taken seriously, they will have to adopt a somewhat serious mien and a no-nonsense approach. It is only strong women who make it to the top, others fall by the wayside. A softie just will not do, she will be an easy doormat for men to walk over. They will take her lightly and try to fix her in the slot they are most comfortable with — a biddable or sexy type who can be controlled through manipulation. But give men a stern, no-nonsense approach and they will stand at a distance and wonder what to make you.
But reflect upon the issue a bit, and you realize that the situation is not as simple as a male-female gender face-off. Certainly, the gender edge aggravates it, but the issue is more about fields of control rather than men not able to accept women at work. And so, as a male colleague puts it, “Men don’t get along even with each other in office situations, except when their work relationships are sharply defined as junior and senior. And when it comes to women, you have to be mature if you are not to feel challenged and diminished. The fact is that women at the top are all the strong ones, who have grown against a lot of opposition from colleagues.”
The competition between women at the same level is equally intense and dirty. And probably that’s how the top bosses like it to remain, jagged edges, unrealized dreams, unfulfilled desires, and circles just short of completion, all make for edgy people who will give it their last shot to move ahead, rather that sit back in sated glory.
And so insecure people all pull down each other, but when it comes to men and women, the situation takes a dramatic turn because at stake here is not just a promotion or hike, but the entire power play between the sexes. Traditionally, a man’s superiority and masculine image has come from the protector-provider role he has played towards women. The role a woman plays in evolution and the cycle of life is enough to make men feel inadequate in any case, and psychiatrists also talk about a man’s deep-seated fear of being rendered unnecessary and redundant. And so a strong woman who can step out and take him on at office as well, makes an insecure man feel emasculated and inadequate. In order to validate his own worth, a man may prefer women to lead lives of dependence and incompetence.
However, let us not ignore the fact that there is an increasing tribe of men who are more evolved and able to accept a woman as an equal being without seriously harming their own psyche. They treat women well, try to understand them, accept their thinking and go along with their ideas as much as with those of other men.
Here is to that increasing tribe of non-challenged men!