Women are as used to being classified, criticised and ambushed into ill-fitting clichés as mosquitoes are to being swatted. In the past few decades, a new cliché has emerged. It’s the one of the monstrous woman boss. It has now come to the point when a promotion that leads you to work directly under a woman is one that will bring you congratulations tempered with advice on how deal with the boss from hell! Somehow, the woman boss cliché has reached the legendary status of the lecherous man hiring the hot bimbo to be his secretary, or the blonde becoming the butt of most dumb jokes.
So, here’s wondering why the cliché took shape. What is it about a woman boss that is so intimidating to so many men? Says Adil Chakravarti, 26, working at a well known MNC in Gurgaon, “I’ve worked with male and female bosses and got along very well with them all, but yes, one must tread a bit more cautiously with women...you never know what they’re thinking and they tend to take things very emotionally – read badly – if everything doesn’t go their way.” So, is that the problem then? Women are more emotional than men and so don’t understand the ‘it’s just business, nothing personal’ stand?
Shayla Sinha, 35, boss of a group of 12 men had this to say, “Anyone who says that it’s just business and not personal is lying through his teeth. Women who disagree in the boardroom will hang out together for lunch and talk away the differences, but have you ever caught a man hanging out with a rival? No way! Men are intensely competitive, often do not think of the long run, and tend to be distrustful of old rivals even if both are on the same team!”
Okay, so the genders disagree.
But it has been seen that women are far better at multitasking than men, and also can think of non-combative ways to get around and solve problems. What do the men think about that? “It may be so,” said Chakravarti, “but the fact remains that women are far harder to please than men.” So, are women setting standards that men are falling short of? Chakravarti is quick to disagree. “It isn’t what you do or how well you do it, it is how you put it across,” he admits. So, while a man may be satisfied with a quick “Done, dude” The woman seems to expect you to “speak with courtesy and all of that”. Yes, admits Sinha, that could be a difference. But that can’t be the whole thing...
Raees Mirza, 32, heading the Marketing division of a publishing house recalls a hilarious incident where his female boss was constantly on the phone throughout an important presentation...with her new maid, trying to explain to her how to make her toddler stop crying and go off to sleep. “We all thought this would now be a piece of cake,” he says “she was obviously paying very little attention to the presentation, so we thought we’d get away with what had turned out to be a below-par production. But even so, she picked up at least 75% of our faults, in spite of the crying toddler and the imbecile maid on the phone!” “Gosh!” he adds, “can you women multitask or what!” Interesting. Women multitask, men don’t. Could this be intimidating the men?
Sinha brings up another pertinent point as we chat. Women, in more ways than men, lead two lives. They are mothers and homemakers at home and the boss from hell at work. At work, the back of her mind is wondering whether the kids had lunch and if her maid has picked up the groceries for the big dinner tonight, and at home that space is occupied by the big presentation she has to make in two days. So, in every role, she is pushing down one aspect of her life and expending energy in wrapping this role up as fast as she can, so that get on with the several others she’s playing.
Plus, no matter what we say about living in the twenty first century, women, especially in India, have to try harder, do more, and be more efficient than the man in order to get noticed. And if the woman is not the taskmaster they make her out to be, she lives in fear of being dismissed as ‘not up to it’.
So much for being a woman!
Image Source: Sakhi