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The False Women In The Workplace Narrative

The Narrative: Women In The Workplace Are Catty

My truth, my experience: This is completely false!

If you’ve followed my blog, you will know that in August last year, I quit my job after 12 years and embarked on a new employment adventure. I went from working in a male dominated environment to working in a very female centric industry. Our current team has 19 employees of which only 3 are male and the entire senior management team is female. When I tell people this, the first response from women and men alike is: Oh wow, that must be such a bitchy environment!

No! It’s not actually. Not even close!

I’m not sure where this narrative of an all female work force being catty even started but it’s been the furthest thing from the truth in my experience. And I believe we need to stop buying into this nonsense. Men and women can be equally supportive or difficult to work with, this is not a solely female phenomenon. 

The first time I sat around our boardroom table as part of the senior management team, all of us women, laptops and notebooks out, I got goosebumps! It was so incredibly empowering, I’d go so far as to say it felt like a sacred place, all that feminine energy. Strong women, making big decisions, driving a company to even greater success. Not once was there an awkward of uncomfortable comment, not once was there a sexist joke made. I felt encouraged to voice my opinions and share my thoughts and experiences openly without fear of ridicule or judgement.

It’s been 5 months since I joined the team and I’m still waiting for the predicted cattiness to start!

Instead of my status as a mother seen as a stumbling block to my career, the fact that I am a mother and all the challenges that go along with being a working mother are respected and embraced. My employers understand my priorities as a working mom and they support me 100% as both a mother and a valued member of the team. To work in an environment where I don’t have to be stressed because it’s my kids first day of school or her first netball match during the work day is incredibly liberating. Because the company and my employers embrace my role as a mother, I have found myself going the extra mile for them, working harder than I probably ever have, being more proactive and analytical in my role and this is because I want to be the best I can be in return for the support that they have so freely given to me.

Being a blogger….

Is another area that has been fully embraced. Where previously, I’d literally cringe and get anxious every time I received a press drop or my blog was mentioned, I’m now included in social media strategy sessions and discussions around campaign mechanics and ideas because of my experience as a blogger.

Men can be difficult too!

It’s so easy to label a difficult woman in the work place as bitchy. But I’ve worked with men who had their own agendas, who looked out for themselves and trampled on whoever they needed to trample on to fulfill their own political agenda. I’ve worked with men who could be downright mean spirited, impatient and judgmental, but never once were they labelled as difficult or catty. Nope, that name seems to be reserved for women in the workplace only and I think it needs to stop.

I work for two very strong, well educated and qualified women who have created the most amazing, supportive and empowering space that embraces women and encourages them to grow and I couldn’t be happier. The things I’m learning, the tasks that are entrusted to me, encourage my growth and have increased my sense of self worth.

An empowering work environment is everything.

It is obviously based on trust but releases me to grow and develop, it empowers me to search out opportunity, to analyze how things are done and look for ways to do them better. I feel liberated by all these women.

What is your work environment like? 

Have you experienced unrecognized catty behavior from male colleagues? Or do you believe in the narrative that states women in the work place are bitchy? 

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20 Comments

  • Cathy Le Roux
    Reply Cathy Le Roux

    Corporate bullying and cattiness is very much alive.

    January 23, 2018 at 8:33 am
    • The Blessed Barrenness
      Reply The Blessed Barrenness

      But is this a purely women phenomenon? I don’t know that I believe it is.

      January 23, 2018 at 8:37 am
    • Cathy Le Roux
      Reply Cathy Le Roux

      The Blessed Barrenness no not only women, but alot of them are. Both my husband and I experienced this with women.

      January 23, 2018 at 8:40 am
    • The Blessed Barrenness
      Reply The Blessed Barrenness

      Cathy Le Roux I’ve also experienced it but with men.

      January 23, 2018 at 8:42 am
  • Reply Lindsay Thomas

    It’s great that you’re enjoying your new role! And YAY to girls doing it for themselves!
    I come from a male dominated world (previous company) and it was tough and I was young – I think I spent many days crying myself to sleep because of these guys.
    But I work in an industry now that is also female dominated, solely because of history (nursing) but I’m proud to say that my GM is a lady and she kills it every day. Its so cool to watch.

    January 23, 2018 at 8:42 am
  • Ramona Moodley
    Reply Ramona Moodley

    Oh corporate bitchiness; sorry I’m calling it what it is… is very real that goes for both men and women… I’m glad you have had a better experience but for most it’s a daily struggle it’s exhausting; demoralizing and just plain awful fielding the veiled and most times not so veiled remarks threats and out and out lies…my sister is currently experiencing this at work she comes home everyday looking so exhausted and depressed I ask her; was it busy today? and she gives a heavy sigh and says no…so I know it was another round of trying to defend herself for whatever made up reason that bloody heifer had decided to make an issue off on that day…and the best part? She can’t even call their ethics line because this “woman’s” friends take those calls and nothing gets done about it it just gets right back to her ears and then she knows exactly who said what. And proceeds to make that persons life hell…how is that a supposed to make a person feel good about going to work in that kind if environment! It’s bloody sad that in this day and age it’s still going on

    January 23, 2018 at 8:57 am
  • Reply Luchae Williams

    ARGH this sounds amazeballs Sharon! Yep, I’ve been the victim of “mean girling” in the office and it sucks. BUT you’re right, it doesnt have to be the norm. BTW how amazing is it that they’ve embraced your blogging? My boss has semi-embraced it, semi-wondering how he can score from it. Meh

    January 23, 2018 at 9:25 am
    • Reply Sharon

      It is amazing!

      January 23, 2018 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Faziela

    I am currently working in male dominated environment, I always thought that working with women would be much more difficult due to th bitchiness but men are that much worse at it!! They gossip, they plot, it’s unbelievable. That being said, they don’t like women in their playground, many a times I would be the only woman sitting in meetings, at first it was super daunting, now I find it empowering that I am actually able to survive with them. Women should not carry that title alone, men are just as nasty (as said from the nastiest man on the planet at this point in time)

    January 23, 2018 at 10:16 am
    • Reply Sharon

      YASSSS!!! My experience is similar!

      January 23, 2018 at 1:25 pm
  • Reply Pandora

    I worked in a field that was mostly staffed by women, I’ve had female and male bosses, and I think it is probably a personality thing. If a boss is insecure and unsure, she can make life hell for everyone, and the sniping and bitching then transfers to everyone due to the stressful environment. I have worked for such a person, and it was exhausting. I have also had a male boss who was so understanding for the things working moms go through that I could always take the time to go see my child’s play, or work from home if she was sick. And yes, in those cases, you do go the extra mile. If only more work environments were like that, it would make such a difference.

    January 23, 2018 at 11:37 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I think an insecure and unsure male boss is the same way.

      January 23, 2018 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Venean

    I also work in an environment mostly run by women, and if anything (10 years experience here) there is a much more family centered approach – we do have males. But the nurturing is definitely one of the big things that define our culture. It’s amazing. The blog I think is too young to really comment on but agree wholeheartedly however we have had some sour apples along the way. Not the majority though and they never last in the organisational culture we have created. Great article!

    January 23, 2018 at 12:06 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      What does “the blog I think is too young to comment on” mean? I’m confused?

      January 23, 2018 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Sam Wright

    I always felt, in a male dominated work space that I was forced to be bitchy or catty to try prove I “belonged”. “Successful” business men tend to, in my opinion, be bullies and be aggressive. Yet that seems to be okay but women in their space need to be the same else they dont consider them equal. It is mind boggling. But yeah, I think we also worked in spaces where it was also a bit childlike. I’m so glad you’ve found an incredible and inspirational space friend!

    January 23, 2018 at 4:09 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Ja, I think may be right!

      January 23, 2018 at 7:15 pm
  • Reply Victoire

    I love that Roseanne Barr quote at the end! I am learning to take my power (back) daily, it is not easy but it is worth it. I think everything can be related to corporate culture or culture in general. I have experienced some amazing women who empower each other lately, and I can’t remember dealing with it on this level in the past. Maybe it’s a maturity thing.

    Your new environment sounds incredible! I can’t wait to grow my business up to the point where I can start collaborating with or employing strong & powerful women.

    January 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm
  • Reply Kerry Wilson

    I have worked with both bitchy men and women and wonderful examples of both. The only constant I see is women bosses in thier 60’s are tougher than younger women. Possibly they had to to survive and achieve in a male world of work in thier era.

    January 23, 2018 at 7:48 pm
  • Reply Heather

    I am so happy for you, Sharon! It is so awesome to be embraced for who you are. I think I’ve finally got there. I am also with a good woman team. But I have to say I am so grateful for it and I sure don’t take it for granted. I have had bad experiences in the past (with both male and female) so maybe there are just people out there that like to take a power trip and make others feel miserable? And then you have the gems that love and accept who you are and promote that.

    January 23, 2018 at 10:25 pm
  • Reply Kat

    Absolutely experienced the vindictiveness and nastiness of a woman threatened by my success. I now work in an all male environment and I’ve never felt more empowered. I think it has less to do with gender and more to do with the actual people

    January 26, 2018 at 8:16 am
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