Monday, October 02, 2006

Women in a Man’s World

Why is it whenever I have to work with women in senior executive positions, they always try to act like men?

I know the world of work used to be – past tense – used to be dominated by men. But these days – hell since the 1980’s even – women and men work equally well together in business and commerce.

Still, whenever I have to meet with a woman CEO, she puts on a defiant posture, and is evasive and abusive towards me and the other men in the room. This isn’t really acting like a man, because if men CEOs did this in business, then there wouldn’t be any business at all.

It always amazes me how women CEOs act – and even more amazes me that their companies are still in business because of the way they act.

I had a meeting today with just such a CEO – a woman. One of the first questions she tossed out at me was “are you married? Do you have any kids?”

Oh boy – I knew instantly that this was going to be a long, dreadful meeting with that line of questioning. I never asked her if she was married with children – I don’t care. Whether you have a wife, a husband, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, children of your own or kids from a previous encounter – none of these things are relevant in today’s business world.

Though it is interesting to point out, as most women CEOs go, they don’t have a hubby and kids. Neither did the female CEO I met with today. They spend all their waking and sleeping hours working. Seriously – they work every day – even on weekends, and they rarely sleep. And when they do sleep, they dream about work – so it is almost like working.

Now I know what you’re thinking – how do I know so much about the life of a female CEO?

Well, every encounter with any CEO that happens to be a woman that I have ever had, has had some similar line of chatter at the start of the meeting.

Usually at the beginning of all meetings there is some small talk, to make everyone feel welcome. Small talk about the weather, traffic, something in the news – anything – unless the meeting is with a female CEO.

Female CEO’s must feel challenged in the male world – even though it isn’t a male world any longer – as all meetings – ALL meetings – I have ever had with a woman CEO present have revolved around the same small talk. This small talk always starts off with the female CEO asking one of the men – usually the most powerful one in the room, say another CEO, or president – if they have a wife and kids. Regardless of that person’s answer, the female CEO always smiles and gloats about how they are single and have never had any children, so they can concentrate all their hours on work – days, nights, weekends. Most female CEOs brag about working 24/7 even though most of us would rather die a painful death, than be tormented with work none stop.

Now not all of us want kids, but it is interesting to note how all female CEOs that I have dealt with – and I’ve had the honor of dealing with quite a few – have always been happy to be single, never married, and to never have had any children.

I guess these poor souls feel in order to compete with men in the business world, they have to be available at all hours of the day and night.

Odd thing though, most men who run their own businesses – myself included – value highly our free time. I don’t want to work 24-hours-a-day, seven days per week – that is a sure fire way to get a coronary. I work hard, but I also enjoy cutting lose, and taking it easy on weekends. I love being able to spend quality time with my friends and family. No, I am not married and I have no kids, but I have a family none-the-same. I have my parents over almost every weekend for dinner. I see my brother too, and then I have my friends too. I’d be lost without the free time to relax and enjoy these individuals company.

Not to the women CEO – they still believe they have to “stick it to the man” so that they can be as good or better than any man in a similar role.

I always cringe when I have to deal with a female CEO. Not because they are any less capable of doing the job, but because they all have chips on their shoulder telling them that us men are the enemy.

Why can’t women CEOs be more like us men, and accept anyone – male or female – in business?

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