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Career Doctor
Too many women in the office
posted on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 21:49

Dear Career Doctor,

Short of sounding sexist, but I work in an office with only women in it. It's a small company with about 12 people. There used to be a male colleague, but he left the company a year ago. Since then, there has been a lot of gossip and cattiness in the office. For example, having 'the time of the month' seems to be a plausible excuse for sick days or for rejecting work that has been doled out. I am a woman myself, but I find this kind of work environment unprofessional and frustrating. Petty tempers have become commonplace where non existed before when there was a male presence.

I wonder if this is a common phenomenon? And from a management perspective, how does one deal with such an environment without coming across as a petty woman herself?


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Anonymous's picture
Posted Saturday, 02 July 2011 12:18 PM

Well, how do you treat children? If they behave like children, then treat them like children. Obviously emotions have been flaring, and feelings have been hurt here and there. Even if I have been working in the UK both for UK and US companies, we (men and women) always keep a check on being professional. If someone was being unprofessional or overstepping that line, then either address it formally or informally as a manager. SAY something.

I would encourage them to work it out between them and to communicate their issues. My male boss did this with myself and one external US finance consultant. (She did not play ball in my eyes, which frustrated me.) But I just let it go and also then understood she did not have the technical skills. So I only ask simple questions. In hindsight, I learnt that she did not come from a technical background, so that she never knew the system at all! If she was only honest with her skill-set with me, then I could have asked different questions or approached things differently.

I guess, you need to know what the issues are. Ask each member genuinely and seriously, and see whether you can be the mediator between them. With regards to my role, it was a work conflict, and not a personal conflict at all. So I did wish my boss was the mediator in the situation, cos he had to be a decision maker on something too. As I did not have view of the organisational chart then.

If it is petty and personal issues. I just encourage each member to build personal relationships and friendships with colleagues who they get on well and have more formal meetings to allow members to distinguish the formality of the situation and to bring them a good focus. Allowing them to talk with those whom they trust, dispel some of their emotional angst. Giving them the chance to present themselves in team meetings in a more formal setting, allows you to softly display your position as a manager and that you mean business. All is fair. No nonsense.

Anonymous's picture
Posted Wednesday, 23 March 2011 12:44 PM

Do not worry about these women. Their unprofessional ways will only make you look better in the eyes of management.

Anonymous's picture
Posted Wednesday, 02 March 2011 02:32 PM

At my previous company I was working, almost exclusively, with chauvinistic and arrogant men. Trust me when I say you’re probably better off with the ladies.

Anonymous's picture
Posted Friday, 18 February 2011 12:10 PM

Work environments lacking in diversity of staff tend to also lack a diversity of ideas, opinions and behaviours. As a result, the talent pool may start to develop certain unhealthy norms that can hamper productivity in the long run. This is definitely something for your company's management to consider.

Career Doctor's picture
Career Doctor  
Posted Friday, 26 November 2010 01:32 PM

Well well well, I won't say it has much to do with the men or women issue, it's more about the work attitudes of your colleagues and the culture and atmosphere of your company.

Petty women? Chinese women are known to be relatively ’petite’, in size only. This is the first time I have heard someone naming us Petty Women! Common phenomenon? I really don't think so!

Your company needs to find a way to boost morale, there should be quite a management deficiency problem, believe me, and it has nothing to do with having too many women around.

Your management should be held responsible for letting this happen in the work place in the first place. Again, you might say, are nothing but women?

That leads to another interesting question, is it tough working for lady bosses who have been open to criticism to be labelled as being emotional, irrational and unreasonable that male bosses don't seem to receive the same flak for?

Share some views please.

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