Female bosses from hell

Female bosses from hell

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

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YOU would expect that the issues with inequality that women face with men in the workplace would have them seeking to protect each other at all costs, but the opposite is often true in the dog-eat-dog corporate world. Indeed, if the stories from the women below are anything to go by, then women are more vicious towards each other than men could ever dream of being.

What could cause this? The 'Queen Bee Syndrome' is the phenomenon of women discriminating against other women in the workplace — particularly as they rise in seniority. The theory was first documented by TE Jayarante, C Tavris and GL Staines in 1973, and describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.

In 2018, researchers at the University of Arizona sought to find out whether the Queen Bee Syndrome was still a problem, and carried out the study, Incivility at work: Is 'Queen Bee Syndrome' getting worse ? They found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts.

The study was conducted across three cohorts, with men and women who were employed full-time answering questions about the incivility they experienced at work during the last month. The questions were about co-workers who put them down or were condescending, made demeaning or derogatory remarks, ignored them in a meeting, or addressed them in unprofessional terms. Each set of questions was answered twice, once for male co-workers and once for female co-workers.

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organisations in the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, said. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.”

And it's much of the same experiences in the Jamaican context, these women share, as they relate issues with the female bosses from hell.

Jenny, 30, nurse's aide:

She told me that it wasn't her fault that I had chosen to be a single mother, as I had signed up to serve the public, and if push came to shove I could always make my daughter stay in the break-room while I worked. All I had asked for were more daytime shifts as my mother, who usually helped me out, was travelling. She wouldn't change my shifts so a lot of the times my daughter had to stay the night with me at work, as I couldn't let her stay home alone.

Nicola, 36, purchasing assistant:

She sat there and pretended to care about my problems, then curtly asked me what time I was coming to work the next day, as she had a meeting that I needed to do the minutes for. I had just told the woman that school was on mid-term and I didn't have a babysitter yet, and she listened to me for over 10 minutes, all the while feigning pity, before she said that. Then she ended with, “And remember, children are not allowed in the office”.

Michelle-Ann, 42, executive secretary:

The company got rid of my underperforming male boss and replaced him with this lady who looked as matronly as my grandmother, and had a warm, engaging presence. I was ecstatic, as my old boss was horrible with a capital H. This new woman was so nice that on the weekends she would bake and take all kinds of goodies to the office for me and my children on Mondays, so it wasn't difficult for me to get close to her, and soon I was sharing my secrets. Soon she learned that my last son's father was a former worker at the company and as soon as she learned that, her attitude changed. She sent out an e-mail reminding staff about fraternising with each other, said that they could be fired if they got romantically involved, and said, and I quote, “We already have staff members who have unfortunately had children together; we're hoping that all of you can restrain yourselves, practise some decorum, and find bedmates elsewhere”.

Charice, 27, sales associate:

This happened recently while the company was making COVID-19 plans, just before Mr Holness gave the work-from-home order. The company was being proactive and identifying staff who would work from home, if it came to that, and those who would be required to be in the office. When my boss saw how long the list of mothers were, she muttered, “Why would HR hire so many women who are obvious liabilities? Going forward, we need to hire men, and women without kids!” When everybody looked at her in surprise she tried to laugh it off, but we all know she meant every word.

Ladonna, 24, personal assistant:

I was advising the company of my pregnancy at five months and after telling HR, it was time to tell my boss. I made the announcement, but instead of saying congratulations she looked at me in horror and asked why I wanted to ruin my life, my figure, and my career prospects. Then she asked me if I was sure I wanted to “bring it”, and when I said of course, and furthermore I was five months along, she said not to worry, she knew a doctor who could “handle it”, and proceeded to start writing the information on a sticky note before I stopped her!

Kaydean, 30, recruiter:

This woman I interned with as a student was hell to work with; nobody worked with her longer than a couple weeks. But I needed the job and even though people warned me about her, she seemed fine enough at first, if a little OCD. Day one to three went fine, and on day four I arrived at work just on time to start my shift — mind you, she comes in a couple hours after me. No sooner had I sat down she called me ranting and raving that I was tardy, and only lazy people were late. I couldn't even get a word in that I wasn't actually late. It only got worse after that — she would curse me out in front of people, criticise my work, have me working seven days for 12-hour shifts, and told me I couldn't get time off to attend my graduation. When I completed my internship she refused to sign the appraisal report and refused to give me a good reference report, promising to blacklist me with future employers. Luckily, my college understood that she was a nutcase and used my hours worked to assess me.


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