Random epiphany: All I want to do is write about frivolous stuff that has no relation to anything (seemingly) like art but I keep getting shoved into writing meaningful stuff. I actually took this job thinking it would be trivial but no… it’s supposed to ‘spark reader interest’. So, green shopping would spark reader interest but no, I have to write about ‘sustainable development’. Huh? Sometimes having a brain is a curse because people think you should use it.
Anyway, the other thing is that I have bitching a lot about my boss. And when I get started the first thing that people ask me is “Is it a woman?” and the second “Chinese?” Ok the point is – I really don’t see why this should matter. I have always worked in women-dominated teams and had women bosses and not really had a problem. My last boss was Chinese and he used to drive me crazy not because he was Chinese but because he was delusional. Of course, one’s ethnicity does play on one’s work ethic but being Asian, I could relate to a lot of things about my old boss such his inability to ever have a confrontation or his tendency to say ‘yes’ when he meant ‘no’ or the fact that I had to just sense from his vibes when he was pissed off. Actually those things might have more to do with the fact that he’s a man than a Chinese man. Who knows?
Though that’s actually my point. Thinking back, I realised that while I have had happy times in the all-women teams I worked in, my history of women bosses has been pretty neurotic.
1) Job 1, Boss 1: Woman who hired me was about five years older than me and running the news desk. She seemed normal but quickly turned into monsterella. She literally made my life miserable, to the point where my dad would drive me to work every day just in order that I go. I stuck on only out of sheer stubbornness. Eventually she realised that she couldn’t beat me down and we became friends.
2) Job 1, Boss 2: At some point, thanks in part to monsterella, I was shifted to the reporting side. It was a toss-up whether the chief reporter was better than monsterella. Both had the tendency to scream at will. The entire office was mortally scared of them. Somehow, chief reporter liked me and I never got yelled at. Maybe because I knew how to handle her. I would call her every day and tell her what I was doing and then do it. She liked that.
3) Job 1, Almost Boss: This woman was literally neurotic. And by that I mean unhinged. Her eyes rolled about in a crazy way. No doubt she must have been a fine journalist in her day but now she had almost completely lost it. She dressed like she was still in the 60s. By which I mean 1960s and not her age – which I think was around 60. Apart from yelling and shrieking and tormenting new people, there was no consistency to her thought process. One minute she was smiling and buying you icecream, the next she was yelling and threatening to sack you. She actually proudly told us that she fired someone for getting married.
4) Job 1, Boss 3: They moved a new resident editor in. Initially she was cold, which is fine, because I can handle cool over yelling but later we became friends. Her only problem was the ocassionaly brining of personal life into professional conversations. For example, “Maybe you should have stayed with your old boyfriend. You used to be smarter then”. But manageable.
5) Job 2, Boss 1: Was a man. He was probably the nicest boss I ever had because he was pretty useless. His main function was to act as a buffer between us and his boss, who I shall describe next. Even if I called and said I would be an hour late after already being an hour late, he didn’t mind. Or at least he didn’t say he minded.
6) Job 2, Boss’s Boss: Now I have become convinced that every newsroom has to be populated by at least one neurotic woman. Here it was boss’s boss. Again prone to yelling, shrieking and generally embarassing people for their mistakes in front of everyone else. Also had a permanent cold. Extremely loud. Difficult to predict when she was going to snap your head off.
7) Job 3, Boss 1: A man. Chinese. Loved me or seemed to. Had peculiarities described above but overall manageable.
8) Job 4, Current Boss: Read previous posts for neurotic behaviour.
The trend here seems to be that the women at the very top (saving one exception) seem to lose it. I didn’t believe it until I actually did this count. It appears from my experience that women bosses tend to me more confrontational. They are more likely to roll their eyes and make a bitchy remark, which can be horrible for a junior, than a male boss. They may also be more likely to feel threatened and insecure and therefore try to squash the upcoming junior. The male boss may suffer from the megalomania that convinces him that no upstart woman could be doing his job and so they don’t feel the need to constantly confuse you in order to put you down. Maybe they just like my legs.*
Could it be that women at large are more indecisive? I know I was probably indecisive in the brief time that I was a boss but I don’t think I was ever neurotic and unpredictable. Even when I was indecisive I was nice about it – I think.
I hate to think that the stereotypes are true. And of course, this is only my personal experience but this is something everyone has been saying to me and which I have been laughing off until I carefully thought about my own experience.
*I have to say here that I have ultimately gone on to have a decent working relationship and even proper friendship with most of my women bosses. But I still acknowledge that they were nightmare bosses not just for me initially but for the rest of the office, men and women.