Bossy women?


Bossy Women

It’s been bothering me…….

I’m forever promoting women and will go out of my way to help girls of all ages reach their full potential.  I think women are absolutely amazing and genuinely believe that if there were more of us in government, on boards and other positions of leadership and decision making, the country would be a much better place to work and live in.

I know Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook CEO (whom I adore btw) has a new campaign, about banning the “bossy” word when it comes to girls.  Sinead O’Connor (whom I don’t adore btw) has joined the campaign by renaming her new album “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” – and she sure is, in the amazing photo-shoot that was released recently.

Sheryl Sandberg - Bossy womenSheryl Sandburg’s belief is that by calling girls bossy in the playground you can hinder their growth as future leaders – as being assertive can be seen as a negative trait for girls to have.

But you know what, based on my own experience as a woman in business, in this instance I’m not sure I agree with Sheryl or Sinead!

I do think there is a breed of women in business that feel they have to be aggressive or bossy to get ahead.

I feel some act this way because they have an over inflated opinion of themselves; paradoxically others behave this way because deep down they are insecure about their own abilities – or perhaps they just act this way because they know they can get away with it.  Basically most feel they have to over compensate for being female by acting this way.

This is based on my own experiences which go back to the 1970’s when I worked as a very small kid in my parents’ restaurant back in Kerry.

I know even my colleagues when they come out of a meeting with a particularly tricky client/prospect, who is being difficult for no particular reason – nine times out of ten the tricky person will have been a woman.

In general guys are far less complicated, with far fewer agendas.  That’s my opinion!!

In the past year I have experienced some really unreasonable, aggressive and yes bossy women who want to push their perceived superiority onto other women – and I often find – this type of woman will bully other women but not men!!

In the company of men, eye lashes are fluttered; they take men’s opinions more seriously and treat men with more respect.

In fact these women are some of the most sexist people I have come across and do nothing to really encourage other women in business, at a time when we should as women in business be supporting and encouraging each other.

Some women have incomprehensible agendas going on – where they don’t want other women to get ahead, even resenting their ability and/or success!!!

On a real positive note, I know thankfully these women are in the minority.

Mad Women - Jane MaasSome of the most positive experiences I have had in my long working life have been around my engagement with amazing women in business, like the team I work with now in Fuzion – great and caring professionals who would bust a gut for their clients and their colleagues; my very best buddy, Ciara, who I met through work and is as close to me as a sister and so many really great friends that I have made through work.

My greatest business heroes are women – the trailblazing original “Mad WomanJane Maas and another New Yorker, Rose of Tralee founder – Margaret Dwyer.

I am also part of an amazing organisation called Network Ireland, for women in business and through this organisation I see first-hand women supporting each other, inspiring each other – even starting businesses together.

So what will we do with these bossy/aggressive women?

It’s not enough to ban the word – as it isn’t banning the women themselves!!!

First of all try not to take it personally – which is hard not to do when you are in the middle of a situation!

Kill them with professionalism; ever so nicely challenge them on their behaviour and finally try to have the least amount of engagement with them as possible.

If that fails – think Karma!

If you do bad onto others – it will probably come back and bite you in the ass in the future and when you least expect it!!

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is a Partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin


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13 Responses to “Bossy women?”

  1. audreymcsweeney Says:

    Love it Deirdre – and i agree with all of it!! I know just the kind of women you are talking about and you are spot on – as much as possible avoidance is the key! Then there is ‘Girl Power’ which i love for encouraging assertiveness and confidence in us women … but lets get rid of the ‘B’ word… Bossy!

  2. Deirdre Waldron Says:

    Thanks Audrey – it’s amazing I thought there might be a backlash but the amount of positive comments I have had from girls has been great. We need to support each other as much as possible #girlpower xxx

  3. Ruth Buckley Says:

    Very true Deirdre, I particularly like the ‘Kill them with professionalism’ comment.

  4. Jacqui Quigley Says:

    Hi Deirdre i agree with the majority of what you are saying but I dont agree that bossy is always aggressive and should not be seen as so! I am all about supporting other women so maybe these “bossy” women need just as much support and this is where the “kill them with professionalism” comes in.

    • Deirdre Waldron Says:

      Hi Jacqui,

      Thanks for the feedback, especially for leaning in and not agreeing with everything 😉 I’m definitely not as nice as you – I think these women need long term professional help, rather than any support you or I could give them (unless you are a trained behavioural psychologist).

      Support for each other is so important, but sometimes support to some people enables their bad behaviour.

  5. Fiona Donnelly Says:

    Hi Deirdre, I often ponder on this…I partly think this type of overbearing behaviour is down to character traits – either learned or innate in some women (and men also). Behaviour ultimately stems from a thought process, which becomes ingrained as we age, and is notoriously difficult to alter (although it can be achieved in part depending on levels of awareness and situation). I think in the past females traditionally tried to emulate their male counterparts by copying their ‘male’ leadership-type traits, in order to be taken seriously and to rise to the top professionally. I’m certainly not saying that was the right way to go, but society in the past in particular applauded these ‘tough’ and ‘bossy’ traits, and saw them as inherently male, which led to the harder, louder image of the shoulder-padded business women of the 80’s. I think today’s business climate is far more inclusive of leadership styles, and I tend to see these ‘bossy’ types are simply people with low-levels of self-awareness and communication skills. I tend to just zone these people out of my radar, whether they’re male or female! Just my tuppence worth, Fiona.

    • Deirdre Waldron Says:

      Thanks Fiona – great wisdom and advice – I like the idea of zoning out these people – it will give us all more time to focus on the more positive people. I think you have a few blog posts in you – if you haven’t started already please get blogging :))

  6. Naomi Sirmans Says:

    I totally agree with this and have thought it silently, because like you, it’s hard when you desire women to succeed, believe in the full capacity of women as professionals, love to see women pursue and master their dreams and goals – and then encounter women who somehow feel the need to be mean to assert their authority. I think your article is very on point and very needed, because perhaps these ‘bossy women’ can understand that we are a team. Authority is respected as part of character and skill, not by demand.

    • Deirdre Waldron Says:

      Thanks Naomi for your thoughts on this. I really hesitated about writing the blog post as I am a great promoter of women in business and I didn’t want to appear as negative. But it was like a sore tooth, it kept on nagging me – so I had to do something. What I have experienced since writing the post is so much support from other women. I think the more we can challenge these “bossy women” knowing we have support from our peers, the less power these “bossy” people will have 🙂

  7. Lorraine Says:

    Hi Deirdre a great blog well done . It has been like the elephant in the room no one will talk about it so well done for bringing it out to the open. I agree women are amazing, assertive, creative, vocal human beings. We can multitask and as a mum, business owner, wife, house keeper I never gave myself enough credit for being a woman but now I will. We need to respect each other more and I think that is where men are slightly ahead of us. We see another woman as competition and can be BOSSY which is where it has to change.
    Keep up the great work

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