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I Thought Women Would Support Each Other, But My Female Boss Dragged Me Down

30 Apr 2017

I was called to the interview room and I was ecstatic when I saw that there was a lady sitting across the table… maybe my future boss. I had given quite a few interviews by now and totally hated the way men looked at me. More than my qualifications they seemed interested in what I wore. I had heard horror stories from other girls too. So naturally I was happy and my confidence increased too to see another woman sitting across from me. She seemed very understanding and accommodating. She asked me if I would be comfortable working late. She discussed other important issues openly. Being a woman I knew she would understand our problems well. I was looking forward to working with her.

I got the job. The same lady was my boss. I was ecstatic. I felt it was a wonderful chance to be mentored by a high-achieving woman and to learn the ropes from her. Under her leadership, I believed, I would gather the tools needed to shatter the so-called glass ceiling—after all the only thing better than one woman is a a group of women standing together in solidarity.

How very foolish I was.

Within days, my boss’s façade of friendship and support fell away and I realised she was far from what she portrayed in the interview room.

 

 It started with her behaviour during meetings that were also attended by male seniors. She wouldn’t miss a chance to put me down or treat me like some kind of secretary—she made me serve coffee to everyone and would sharply tell me to await my turn if I tried to speak. Guess what, my turn never came. She would keep smiling and speaking in a sweet tone as she did all this, which just added to my confusion. Was I overreacting?

Interestingly, even as she sidelined me in public she made sure I had plenty of important but low-profile work to do. These were the absolutely vital tasks that are invisible to everyone else. Often I would have to stay behind late to finish these tasks but there was no aknowldgment of my work.

I just didn’t know why I was being singled out for this kind of treatment. She had a problem with my mere presence I felt. It was unnerving. In addition I got the distinct impression that she was badmouthing me to others. It was pretty obvious in the way people looked at me and suddenly stopped talking and in their extra-formal behaviour with me. Working for months in this atmosphere started wearing me down.  I cried so many times in the washroom. I tried hard to impress her but it didn’t help ever. It was my first job and I didn’t know what I should be doing. I was losing confidence. I thought of leaving this job on many occasions but couldn’t. I had studied and worked hard for where I had reached. I couldn’t get scared and hide myself.

 

But despite my resolve to stay, the anxiety and stress grew and grew. I developed ulcers. Once I found myself vomiting blood in the washroom and realised I needed several days of leave at once. But when I asked her, all hell broke loose. She rudely refused and told me I was not fit for any job. I don’t remember what got into me but I confronted her finally and openly. I could not take it anymore. I had let her get away with her unacceptable behaviour for too long.

As she yelled at me, I said just as loudly, “Can we speak privately in the meeting room?”

By then I was long past fear and I think she understood that I meant business. She said, “Follow me” and led me into the meeting room, even as the rest of the office looked on curiously.

She opened her mouth to speak, but I held my hand up.

“Please give me a chance to speak,” I said.

“You have bullied me and made my life hell here ever since I joined. What’s your problem? I know my work is good, and I also know you’ve been taking credit for it.”

I think she was too shocked to speak at this point… she also had a look in her eyes that I recognised: shame.

I continued, “I joined this organisation because I cared about the work and because I thought being mentored by you would help me grow. Instead you are pulling me down. I’d really like to know why.”

My heart was beating fast in my chest. I knew this outburst could get me fired and ruin my reputation.

Yet to my shock, she said quietly, “Sit down.”

 She said, “I’m sorry you feel I am targeting you.”

 

This made me even more angry. “I am not ‘feeling’ that way. It is a fact.” I then gave her examples of behaviour in which she had clearly treated me differently than my peers.

So, did she apologise? Did she explain her behaviour? Of course not. She fired me, as expected.

And what did I feel? Relief!

 

As it happens I did not have a hard time finding another job and did well there under another woman boss.

 

Then at a cocktail party in a hotel several months later I found myself face to face with my tormentor. Right at the basin next to me in the washroom was my old boss. She’d clearly had a few too many cocktails.

 

I nodded coldly at her and was about to leave, but she grabbed my arm.

 

“Hey there sweetie,” she said, “You still pissed.”

I said nothing. She continued speaking.

“Look I’m sorry OK? I’m sorry I was such a bitch to you. You were good, really good. And I….well I didn’t like that. So, I was jealous OK OK? You know how hard I worked to get where I am? I didn’t want to be outshone by a silly fresher.”

She was drunk and her tongue was loosened and she gave me a long speech that I can barely remember myself. But the gist: She knew I was talented and that’s what scared her. She didn’t want me get everything easily. She had struggled and she could not see any other woman get it easily. She was on an ego and power trip. She never felt comfortable pulling up the men so she used to take out her frustration on women. Women hardly answered back so she felt more powerful. I was an easy target.  Her boss was also like this and she felt this was the only way to control her subordinates.

I heard her out and removed my arm from a grip.

 

I only had four parting words for her, and I meant them: “I feel sorry for you.”

 

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Tags: couple, relationships. marital relationships. flirting


Tags: #Boss #Women