Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q: All the other members of the management team are women and it's doing my head in. Some of them try to mother me, some flirt with me and if I'm late completing things my boss scolds me as if she were my mum. I feel excluded when they talk about babies and recipes and we never seem to be able to take speedy decisions, as we have to waste time wondering how people are going to react to them. Is there any way to make the team more masculine in the way it operates?

A: You are experiencing the mirror image of what many senior women have had to put up with in the past 30 years in male-dominated work environments. While the reaction of most of the men I canvassed about your predicament was that it was a great situation to be in, I understand it can be an uncomfortable position.

Being in the minority has its downsides, with feeling excluded, being marginalised, patronised or even victimised among the principal issues. But, there can be upsides: being lionised, excused certain duties and allowed certain privileges.

MT editor Matthew Gwyther notes: 'Some blokes fret that a large female influx will mean there is no one to talk to about football and cars, and few opportunities to go to the pub after work.' But, he adds: 'Several of my female colleagues spent far longer than me propping up the bar at the Frog and Barcode. Rather pathetically I discuss recipes more often than the women. However, a female office majority means it's not possible to get away with crass boys' misbehaviour. This may be no bad thing.'

His sense is that women tend to be more focused on getting things finished, rather than taking a punt on their instincts. And an American friend reported that he mostly enjoyed working in an all-female environment but found his colleagues' ability to multitask demoralising.

So what can you do to improve your situation? One option is to stay with the status quo, but reframe it as a way to explore who you really are and want to be at work. When you are surrounded by people who are the same sex or race as you or similar in age it's easy to go along with group behaviour. To go against an aspect of it that you find offensive is to risk ostracism. You now have the chance to reflect on what aspects of your previous working life are important to you and which you would like to be present in the future, in your current job or at some future workplace. …

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