Is “She” Really a “BITCH” in the Workplace?


Posted on July 29th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Is “She” Really a “BITCH” in the Workplace?


In this title, I am using the word "she" as a representative of any woman in the workplace and not at all thinking of any one woman in particular. However, at times I may bring to mind a certain woman (including myself) to make my point. So what made me write such a post? What do I think the answer to this question is? Why should we even care?

Well the other day a person I would consider to be one of the nicest college friends I ever had posted a quiz on Facebook titled "How Bitchy Are You?"  At first, I thought now why would she do that? She's not even close! Although, her score was 52% which said she was a "Balanced Bitch". So a couple hours went by and without thinking much about it except to laugh to myself because I thought for sure my result would be much higher, I took the quiz. Now let me just say, as an educated adult, I do know there is not a lot of research that is behind these silly Facebook quizzes, but what the hey. My theory was correct and I did score higher by 10%, achieving the "balanced bitch" entitlement as well.  Then another friend who scored only 23% took it. Honestly, I would have ranked both the friend that took it initially and the latter friend in the same category of friendliness (not bitchiness) due to my own personal experiences with them. Thus negating my trust in the quiz even further.

All this got me thinking of the use of the word "Bitch" in general and more specifically in the workplace. I remember as a young professional (YP), I was invited to join a ladies group called "Bitchin' Broads" and I was offended that they called themselves that and refused to be part of the group, because as a professional I didn't want to be associated. I felt at the time it gave women a bad name in the workplace.  Little did I know at the time that in reality, if you simply spoke up, shared what was on your mind, refused to do something ridiculous, called others on their laziness, or anything that others might consider "crossing the line," that is what they called you (and still do). Why is that?

If you are passionate about something and convey that in the workplace you can kiss your reputation as the nice lady goodbye. Take on a supervisor, manager, director or above and actually not be afraid to do the job...life as you know it is over. Matter of fact, your most likely counter supporters are typically other women. I have had several women tell me that they preferred to work for a man than woman. With more women entering the workplace decade after decade and still not joining the numbers at the top as a majority like their male counterparts, is it because of this mentality? Are women holding women back just because they are too nice to appreciate bitchiness as a necessary competency for getting things done? Please note: I am not condoning bullying in the workplace. I consider that to be totally different and definitely inappropriate in the workplace. A bully is a downright jerk regardless of gender.

So, I know for a fact, I have been a bitch at times both in the workplace and in the volunteer roles I have held related to the workplace. When I posted my score and comment in Facebook "life can be a bitch at times and so can I. I'm sure many of you would agree! Ha! Ha!" not many responded and I know why. The truth hurts. It's not intentional and it's not something I look back on and am proud of all the time. However, it has been essential at least 75% of the time. Many do take it a compliment. Just look at these articles I pulled a quote or takeaway from related to my thoughts on the topic.

"The more of a bitch I am the more successful I become" http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2012/05/07/how-to-be-a-bitch/

"Stop saying I'm sorry - there is a time and place for apologies"http://m.contentfac.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.contentfac.com%2Fboss-bitch-manifesto-why-nice-girls-finish-last-in-life-and-in-business%2F#2713

When it means making 18% more than your agreeable counterparts why not earn the bitch title? http://jezebel.com/stop-being-nice-all-the-time-and-start-embracing-your-i-504747512

And just in case you missed the Facebook Bitch Quiz, here's another you can take to see if you are one of the workplace "she's": http://www.gotoquiz.com/are_you_a_bitch

Is the "she" in your workplace a bitch? My answer is "yeah, maybe" but is that a bad thing? Maybe not!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.





One thought on “Is “She” Really a “BITCH” in the Workplace?

  1. Great read Donna and you’re spot on. I hate to say it but I’m on the exact same page as you and while I know I’ve had my moments to be assertive and speak out, it was surely perceived as bitchy.

    At the same time, I’ve had unpleasant experiences with female managers and am one of those women who prefers having a man for a manager vs a woman. I’m not sure what that means for me. Am I a hypocrite — that it’s okay for me to be a balanced bitch but not okay for a woman that I would work for?

    Great post to get me thinking!

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