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Prepare to be hated

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

The first time I took a leadership position I didn't anticipate where it would lead me or that I would actually be stepping into a role where I might be the most hated person in the room just for being a woman.

I was reminded recently that I am rumored to be hated by a lot of people. A male colleague who is supposed to be a mentor reminded me of this about 10 minutes before I stepped into a very important meeting. Weird timing and a complete mental fuck by the way. To have chosen that moment, while I was in preparation for a meeting which had huge potential impact where as a leader I needed to be on top of my game, to derail my confidence, a woman he was supposed to be mentoring. You might, like me, think that's kind of strange timing. To be reminded and questioned about how people felt about you, and if it would impact the outcome of a meeting. Who would do that, or better yet, why would they do that?

I'm not really sure what it is about the male psyche that they have been led to believe that females have to be less than or cannot be strong and opinionated. But that becomes especially transparent when you start to share your opinion and thoughts as a woman in a leadership position. I asked one of my other male colleagues last week, who I trust to give me an honest answer, why am I 'hated'? And his very condensed answer was that unfortunately 'you are the person who steps on our dick, and holds us accountable, and because you're a woman doing it, it's somehow worse'. I work in a male dominated industry so I am almost always the only woman in the room. In fact in the division I lead I have one other woman at the moment and she is in an administrative position. Come to think of it, I hear a lot of grumbling from the guys about her too. And it's not imagined, they don't seem to grumble about each other in the same way, or even man to man leaders in the same way. It seems to be that the only support the male team desires from us women is help (but only when asked for), coddling, or soothing... anything else is not well received.

Where does this mental fragility and ego come from? has a great article explaining what toxic masculinity is; but it boils down to "The only consistent truth about masculinity has been this: Men have always feared having it taken away."

Just to reiterate, for any male readers out there, we women don't want to be YOU, most of us like being women. If masculinity is a status that you are working to earn, and you're in constant fear that it's going to be 'taken from you', I can understand why you feel the need to constantly be on guard, you're afraid. You're afraid that your value is only tied to your gender and you need to receive external validation of your man-ness. goes on to say that "the construction of gender identity for men is more fragile than women, in many cultures, one is born a woman - and one becomes a man".

So it's a self-worth issue. And because I am a woman in a leadership position having to hold men accountable, they are questioning their self-worth every time I have to hold them accountable? I guess when you really look at it it's the same way women's self worth is tied to how 'pretty' we are and if we are not being given that external validation then our ego gets wounded. I guess we're all really in the same boat struggling with self-worth and looking for it from outside sources.

This incident with a mentor I mentioned, certainly had me defining my success as a woman in a leadership position, not from my many contributions as a person in that leadership position, but made me question my role as a leader as having to be 'liked'. And I allowed this to derail my self-confidence and cause unnecessary suffering.

Self-worth, it's a tricky thing.


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