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Unravelling myths around female bosses

Women are breaking barriers in different fields, with a lot of them occupying top positions in companies and organisations. However, there is a common perception…

Women are breaking barriers in different fields, with a lot of them occupying top positions in companies and organisations. However, there is a common perception that it’s difficult to work with female bosses compared to men. Are they? Daily Trust on Sunday sought the opinion of some people who have served under female bosses.

The proportion of women in the workforce has increased over time. Women are increasingly taking up leadership positions at big corporations, despite the fact that men still outnumber women in managerial and CEO positions. Meanwhile, there is a perception that working alongside successful women in business is challenging.

According to social experts, the myth that women are difficult to deal with is mostly based on cultural expectations of what women should be like. On the basis of these presumptions, men are supposed to be assertive at work and to command respect from subordinates.

Women are, however, expected to be more nurturing and less assertive, and when their leadership characteristics don’t match those expectations, they are characterized as tough.

As the saying goes, there are always two sides to a story. While some may have issues with women being their bosses, some appreciate their female bosses who also served as mentors to them.

Emem-Obong Okoi told Daily Trust on Sunday that through her career journey till date, she has always been fortunate to work under women. She called it a divine experience.

“I do not think it’s by accident that I’ve worked under three female bosses. They were kind to me, encouraged me to be better at my work and also treated me like I was their child. When I think about it, till date I tell people that maybe I’m destined to be great female leader hence the reason God let me serve under three strong female bosses.”

Jennifer, a trained beautician, told Daily Trust on Sunday that she considers herself lucky to have a boss like she did. She stated that during her apprenticeship, her madam showered her with kindness.

She said; “Like others, I had my reservations about serving under a woman. I wanted to learn my trade under a man but I’m glad that my perception has changed now. My boss was so kind to me and treated me like a daughter. She trained me to the best of her abilities and also allowed me express my creativity on the job. To be honest, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Gerald Ubah who has also experienced working under a female boss said that he enjoyed working under his female boss and till date, use her as a measure of comparison with his other bosses.

“Maybe it’s because I’m a man and I know that men are supposed to be tough and are less compassionate but, in my opinion, there is this ease that comes with working with women, maybe it’s because you can always appeal to their femininity which can save you in days of trouble.

“At the former firm where I worked, my madam was an exceptional woman. She was hardworking and knew how to bring a balance to the job. She would encourage staff to build on their skills within and outside the company. There were times she would offer words of advice to our team members like a mother will do and I found it very appealing because people rarely advise adults since they expect them to be wise enough to make right decisions. But with my madam, she was a boss and a nurturer.”

Unlike the aforementioned people who eulogized their female bosses, there were others who had one or two negative experiences with female bosses.

While sharing his experience, Kenny Opeyemi noted that he didn’t have a pleasant experience while working under a woman. He also mentioned that having to work under a woman was more tasking and stressful.

He said; “I prefer to work with a man over a woman any day. My boss was a very strict woman. She doesn’t take no for an answer. She pretended to understand and relate with the staff but will subtly use the information given to her to turn on staff when she needed someone to get something done. She seemed nice, but she used it as a weapon to get at staff.”

Dera Alex also told Daily Trust on Sunday that she’d prefer having a male boss over a female boss because women tend to be manipulative and often appear strict so as to draw respect from their fellow colleagues.

She said; “Most women are very sentimental and even when they want to appear tough, if they need you to do something, especially when it’s not within your usual responsibilities, they’d then decide to be nice.

“Also, they often slip away from professionalism and start to assume a mother-child relationship in the office. They start looking at certain staff especially those who fall under a certain age. They take it upon themselves to play mother figures to these people often forgetting that it’s an office and not a day care centre.

“Also, society has groomed us to see men as tough and to respect them as providers, so often times when it’s a woman who is boss, the same energy doesn’t apply because women are not wired that way. That’s why in most homes, kids fear their dads more than their mum, not because their mums can’t be as strict as the dads but as women, we are just softer.”

Another lady, Nabilah Sani, who shared her opinion on working with female colleagues, said that although women tend to champion for equity and equality in the workplace, there is no love among them. She called it a “bloody scam”.

“A lot of women are not capable of seeing other women as authority figures over them in the way that they would gladly accept from a man.  At my place of work, one of my techs said they’re getting a new manager and she hopes it’s not a woman because she can’t just come in here and make demands.

“And I said to her, seeing that she would be above everyone here in the hierarchy of things, she can demand whatever she wants. She would have to, of course, be courteous even as a male boss would be expected to be, but the idea that she has to reason with you because you are both women and you automatically see her as your equal when you are not equal in the workplace is just bewildering.”

Nabilah added that “They are some who act as if you’re dragging husband with them in the workplace and even when they have problems with a female boss, they feel more confident to make remarks in their face but they’d never do that to a man.

“On the other hand, female bosses can be really inconsiderate when it comes to problems that a female team member is facing (child care, period problems preventing work) and generally problems that they feel women experience. Their thinking is ‘it doesn’t make you special’ but a male boss is far more likely to be sympathetic.”

In a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday, Eugenia Ndukwe who is the CEO of a communication consulting firm said only lazy people find it hard working under a female boss as many of them are goal getters and will amount pressure to make sure the work is done.

She said “It you’re a lazy person, you will find it hard to work under a woman leadership. If you’re hardworking and are able to keep up with your responsibilities, then you will find working with a woman very pleasant and fulfilling.

According to Eugenia, her leadership style is very different from the men because being a female boss comes with a lot of expectations which in turn influences the leadership style.

“Women are highly organized and are self-motivated individuals and these traits place high expectations on people who work around them. Also, female bosses are most times subtly firm and this is in order to separate business from leisure.”

Eugenia also mentioned that she demands equal effort and does not try to favour the females over their male counterpart because she’s a woman.

Eugenia said that “Being more kind to female staff is very impossible for me. However, for nursing mothers and pregnant women, I sometimes empathize with them because I can relate with their experiences as a mother.

“So, what I do is to mentor them to appreciate the use of modern management tools to ease their work stress and so they are still able to deliver about 80% of their work expectations.”


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