How Having Only Female Bosses Helped Shape My Career
If you were starting a new job and had your choice of a boss, would you prefer to work for a female or a male?
Now hold that thought, and let me tell you about my own experience.
Before starting my career, I heard a lot about the evil mean female boss. The one that hunts you down and bites your head off at every opportunity. I’ve been told that female bosses are from hell, and they will try to sabotage my career at any chance. But it wasn’t until I started working that I realized the gender bias against female leaders and seniors.
I’ve interned and worked in different organizations around Lebanon, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, and I only had female bosses. Yes, I reported, worked, and created with seven different women.
Seven women who climbed their success stairs, broke the glass ceiling, and made it to the top. But how did that affect me?
Provided me with terrific mentors.
Having a mentor is a critical part of both your professional and personal development. In my career, I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful women who helped empower me.
A while ago, women were more competitive, working against each other because of the idea that the places on top are limited. However, the whole concept of “If she can make it, then I won’t.” doesn’t work anymore.
Women realized that they are facing similar obstacles, obligations, and aspirations. They recognized that finding a seat at the table and reclaiming the narrative will only happen through collaborating and supporting other women.
And while women find it more challenging to find because 60% of male managers feel uncomfortable mentoring, socializing with or working one-on-one with female employees, I was lucky enough to find mentors who helped me grow. They provided me with honest and practical advice about being a working woman, taught me how to avoid burnout, and guided me to new opportunities.
They taught me how to create a work-life balance.
The women I worked with had different obligations. Some were mothers, wives, business owners, students, and so much more. Their careers were demanding, and finding a balance was a challenge, but many of them taught me the importance of not letting yourself get stuck in the whirlwind of work even when the system is against you.
I used to have one-on-one meetings with one of my directors to speak about my growth, feelings about the job, and goals. Not about company KPIs, not my work tasks, but my own goals and aspirations.
Am I comfortable handling this project? What are the obstacles I’m facing? What are my plans after graduation? And how can I achieve them? Should I take time off to work on my projects? Not only did I share my feelings or vent, but she always gave me her honest and raw feedback.
Because I always worked with women, I thankfully did not experience gender discrimination in the workplace. I was present in the room and not interrupted; my views and voice were important, I wasn’t told I need to smile more, and most importantly, there was no mansplaining.
Because I did not have to worry about being a part of the ‘the boys club’, I focused only on my work and growth.
Unfortunately, 5 of the 14 top barriers women face in the workplace are related to discrimination and gender bias, and I’ve heard many horror stories from my female friends. They are being ignored by their male colleagues or managers during meetings and receiving the ‘delicate flowers’ treatment. A friend was asked during a meeting, “Are you sure you can handle this all the way? You just got married, and you might have a kid in the middle of the project.”
I wouldn’t be here without the amazing women who supported me. Thank you for leading encouragement, compassion, appreciation, and acknowledgment.