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It Never Fails

Written By: Lauren Howard

It never fails. 

Whenever I talk about the challenges of misogyny in the workplace, someone invariably responds that it’s not an issue of gender because their worst boss gasp WAS a woman. If women can also be bad bosses, then the problem has nothing to do with patriarchy, right? 

Here’s the thing, if men are allowed to be terrible, women are too. Anyone has the right to be terrible. 

Just, like, stay away from me. 

That said, just because women can also suck doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue of workplace misogyny. 

In my experience, there are two primary types of personalities trying to make it in this antiquated idea of a man’s world. 

Some women, when faced with the pressures of working while female, shrink. They take every corner of themselves and pile it into the tiniest box constructed of male expectations and behavior deemed acceptable. They smile more, make fewer suggestions, and make allies who can help them make their ideas seem plausible and not the impulses of a person whose only experience has been collected while, like, being female. 

Then, there’s the other side. The ones who have learned that it’s a kill-or-be-kill world and they’ll squash anyone who comes along to show that they are one of the boys. They can be just as cutthroat as the boys. They uphold misogyny as well as the boys. They can make workplaces just as hostile for other women because they are certain that the only way to succeed is to make sure other people don’t. 

I know one of those seems worse than the other, but that really isn’t the case. One is certainly more harsh and likely more harmful to other women, but they’re both born of the same thing. Neither of those women can exist in the workplace as herself. So they either shrink or they attack. 

I strive to be a third kind of woman. One that’s lifting as I climb and gets to be myself as I do it. I’m certainly not going to shrink into the background, but I have no desire to get ahead at anyone else’s expense. 

Our workplaces were built as boys’ clubs, so yes, they’re just as responsible for the way women behave as they are for the men who the world was built for. 

You’re not my competition. There’s enough to go around. The boys’ club can keep the rest of it. 


Founder & CEO at elletwo



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