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Where are all the mediocre women?

I feel like I’m lucky enough to be living in a renaissance for women in the workplace. Now there are millions of books, forums, active networking opportunities, dedicated to progressing women in various workplaces [notably some workplaces being more progressed than others….*erghm* every closed shop medical profession]. It’s awesome and I do genuinely feel lucky to be afforded this level of support.

Even news.com.au is finally realising that there might be something in this whole ‘women thing’ and are starting to tone down all the “Periods & Catfights: Women in the Workplace Cause Negative Productivity and Poor Company Performance” and “Dry Cleaner Revenue Up: What The Fuck Are All The Women Doing If They’re Not Doing Ironing”-type articles.

Example: Actual Headline of a Newspaper [can’t you tell by all the ‘——‘ indicating words in the article?]

Women Newspaper

Yep, we even have a US presidential candidate, increasing focus on the number of amazing women on ASX Boards and an incredible number of women launching businesses. It really is a wonderful time to be a woman.

But as I reflect on the fact that because of all these amazing women, I could one day be a world leader, a CEO, an innovative visionary…I can’t help but think, what if I’m not good enough to be a world leader, CEO, an innovative visionary…does this mean I don’t get to rise up a career ladder? It’s all well and good to have amazing opportunities for the top performers in our sex, but what about the rest of us?

In just a short 5 year career, I’ve already worked for more Dud Male Bosses than I ever want to. In fact if I received a banana for every Dud Male Boss I have had to work for, I’d have enough bananas to be able to hire someone [using some of said bananas as collateral] to carry around a crate of bananas behind me, so that whenever someone did something unjust or really annoying, I could pick up two handfuls of bananas and throw them in the air as I say “this shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S”. In summary, I’d have a lot of bananas.

At first I was pretty accepting that having to work for a Dud Male Boss was just part and parcel of life. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, do all the work, get no credit, and make your Dud Male Boss look good so that they get promoted beyond their ability. But after a while you have to start thinking why are there SO MANY mediocre men in these managerial positions? Why aren’t there more mediocre women in management if there are so many men?

Now I know what you’re thinking:

  • “I’ve worked for plenty of shit female bosses”;
  • “[blah blah] was so shit, she had no idea”;
  • “she had no idea about numbers”
  • etc. [lol not sure if it’s appropriate to give “etc.” it’s own separate bullet?]

We can all point to anecdotes of shit bosses, but the ratio of mediocre female bosses to Dud Male Bosses would still be very low. We can pat ourselves on the back for initiatives for having more women on ASX Boards and more women in leadership positions, but what about having equal numbers of women across all spectrums of work? Why do women have to be exceptional to warrant fair treatment? If I’m a female and am pretty average at my job, I should be afforded the same luxuries as any man who is also pretty average at the same job.

My biggest gripe with all of this, is that a Dud Male Boss hardly ever gets called out for being a dud. It’s almost as if being male and “ok” at your job, means that you can get away with being a terrible manager and continue to progress to a decent middle management job. But put a female in that same position and every mistake is highlighted, with the insinuation that she’s a dud because she’s female.

My favourite line is definitely “she’s good at running processes, but I hear she’s technically not that good”. I’ve seen so many female director level bankers and corporate managers, cop that they’re not “technically” good, and that immediately attracts lower levels of respect from juniors and peers alike. The implication here being that the female manager in question is good at “women tasks” such as “organising” and “project planning” but if she were given numbers or code to work through she couldn’t do that as well….but guess what? Who fucking cares? For every female manager who sucks at the technical components of her job, there’s at least five other male managers who also suck at the technical components of their job…but low and behold, it’s only the female manager who gets called out and disrespected for it. And then don’t forget the reverse – if you’re a female and can’t manage a Gantt Chart to save your life, you’re almost always met with looks of “if you can’t project manage then how are you going to make a spreadsheet to manage your wedding?”…omg disaster! What am are you going to do???

If we’re talking about increasing the number of women on ASX Boards and the like, it’s also time we talk about increasing the number of shitty, somewhat mediocre female managers (and juniors) too, to counteract all the Dud Male Bosses/juniors.

Ultimately the fact is gender don’t make you a dud, you just make you a dud.

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About Arani Satgunaseelan (78 Articles)
Corporate nerd. Wannabe blogger.

6 Comments on Where are all the mediocre women?

  1. SO TRUE. And if you’re female but don’t love a timetable/process mgt gantt chart…. good luck!

  2. Yes!

  3. Felicity Gould // April 23, 2015 at 11:48 pm // Reply

    Don’t think I agree with much of this at all. I have had some great female bosses and some great male ones. I don’t think we should ever accept mediocrity! If you have a shit male boss do something about it!

  4. P.Diddy Pigeon // April 24, 2015 at 7:07 am // Reply

    Well said!
    And where are the ordinary female mid-level employees who can provide everyday mentoring and support to junior females? I’m so sick of only having high level female executives who are always rushing around, too busy to help you in everyday situations and who make you feel like they’re doing you a massive favour by taking you for a coffee once in your multi-year stint, during which they spend the entire time talking about how hard their life is. We need more everyday, ordinary female role models!

  5. Grizzlybearcub // April 24, 2015 at 10:55 am // Reply

    couldnt agree more with PDP!

    Females shouldn’t have to be stand-outs to get given some modicum of opportunity!

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