Saturday, June 30, 2007

Embrace The Bitch Within

According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology (Vol 89), successful women who excel at careers in typically male-dominated fields are often unfairly characterized by others as unlikeable and untrustworthy. One of the study's authors, Dr. Madeline Heilman of NYU, noted that, "Success is OK for a woman if it's in an area that is not [seen as] off limits to them. What we are seeing is a reaction to their violation of stereotyped norms."

Indeed, the study found that the more competent the woman was at her job, the less likable she was rated by strangers. "The successful women were characterized as more selfish, manipulative and untrustworthy - your typical constellation of 'bitchy' characteristics," says Heilman. Conversely, women who weren't as successful at their jobs had higher likability ratings.

Now here's the kicker: while both men and women rated successful women as overall UNlikable in the NYU study, three other studies (most notable one from the American Journal of Sociology) found that, unlikeable or not, men rated more powerful, high-earning women as sexier and more attractive than their counterparts.

So where does this leave all you Wicked Women out there? For successful women in traditionally female-dominated careers, take heart: you tend to be viewed as successful, attractive AND likable!! But for women in male-dominated business and science industries, I guess you have to choose. Either you're going to be successful, attractive and loathed or unsuccessful and beloved.


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised. I'm angry that women are their own worst enemies but I'm not surprised. I've been in the business world 25 years and for all the talk of progress things are alarmingly unchanged.


Gwen K said...

people suck

Kimberly Kaye Terry said...

I've been blessed to have been successful in my former career, and never really labeled "unlikable" for the MOST part. I pretty much get along with everyone.

Okay, here's me being real. I have a kind of in your face personality at times. I don't tolerate foolishness, or what I consider foolishness, I should say, of ANY KIND. Because of this, when folks step to me crazy, well, this other Kim may emerge. She's not the one to deal with your drama. She will treat you with respect as long as you respect her. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. In the workplace, I do my job, whatever it is, to the best of my ability, I push those around me, to do their best. But sometimes people don’t respond well if they feel “intimidated” by you. Women are used to men being in control, hell, our society is truly male dominated, so this should be no surprise. So when a woman is in control, both men and women have their individual biases they bring to the table, regarding a woman’s “place” that has nothing to do with you, as the woman who is in charge. You are not responsible for anyone’s feelings.

If you are a confident woman, and secure with your own abilities, no matter the industry you work in, you MUST be prepared to deal with others negative perceptions and learn to work with them, even if that means biting the inside of your damn cheeks until they BLEED, so you don’t tell them what you think of their antics. In the end, you’d be surprised at how folks eventually come around. That or you fire their asses. Take your pick, LOL!


Jaid Black said...

Bev & Gwen, I couldn't agree more. Kimmie, amen!

aromagik said...

Gwen K said...

"people suck"

What she said. :>]


Jo Carlisle said...

Interesting topic today! Excellent points, Kimberly.

I had exactly 2 male bosses in 2 totally different evironments in my pre-author days. One guy was my boss in a male-oriented job, the other my boss in a female-oriented field. Both men were total, complete bastards to work for!!

On the flip side, I've never had an ounce of trouble working with other ladies, no matter how much higher on the rung they were than me.

That says to me the negative stereotype of a "successful bitch" is mostly a male perspective--but they can't live without us, so the joke is on them! :)

Anonymous said...

Jaid, I just found this blog. Glad you started it. Looking forward to additional commentary.

Anyway, like Bev, I have been in business for more years than I would like to admit to. I agree that things are pretty much unchanged, especially where women's perceptions are concerned.

I know that, where men are concerned, it has taken a lot more to prove myself but once I have, they have shown respect for my knowledge and abilities. With women, it seems pretty much the opposite.

This is generalizing, I know. I have had some great female mentors and worked with some total male idiots, but my experiences have been more the other way around.

Lynn E

Who for some reason has never gotten blogger to work. Okay - my business background is NOT in computers - they are supposed to work for me - not me for them.

Anonymous said...

Delilah Devlin said...

Okay, so blogger hates me and I have to be "anonymous"! :)

I can relate to everything said in that article and love KimK's response. I spent more years in the military than I'd like to admit, working mostly with men. My personality isn't as outgoing as Kim's (she's blessed that way!), but I had few problems with male authority or with my commanding men. After so many years there, I kinda think like a guy anyway.

So when I left the military and entered corporate America, I was in for a real culture shock. I had a lot of difficulty working with women, and one particularly disastrous job working for a woman supervisor. No matter how competent I was at my job I couldn't please her because I was "intimidating"--her word.

I'm happier now as a self-employed writer. I'm my own boss, but strangely there is still a minefield of feminine...animosity, for lack of a better word...that I find myself negotiating when it comes to maintaining a public "presence".

I'm not so as savvy as some who really understand what issues drive folks to lash out at others on the web. Without the face-to-face interaction, I think some folks feel free to say whatever they want without fear, and perhaps, without knowing they can cause pain.

I have a deep belief in karma--I've seen the proof of what happens when I've built bad karma, up close and personal. Life's short, and I want a well of good deeds and thoughts to drink from when I leave.

Some folks might consider that.

Jaid Black said...

Just came back from seeing EVAN ALMIGTY with the kiddos. It was a cute movie! Anyway...

These are all great, thought-provoking posts, ladies. Thanks for sharing :-)

Susan Edwards said...

I used to work with a woman who said BITCH stands for Boys, I'm Taking Charge Here

Trista Ann Michaels said...

I tend to work better with men, than women. Women tend to be catty, or at least the ones I work with and I can't stand cattiness. Drives me nuts...:)

Trista Ann Michaels said...

I tend to work better with men, than women. Women tend to be catty, or at least the ones I work with and I can't stand cattiness. Drives me nuts...:)