Dealing with a Bitchy Boss!

How we were convinced to believe that women are “Bitchy Bosses”?

The societal pressure on women to be everyone and everything has increased significantly, especially amongst working women holding a senior position.

A leader should be direct, decisive, confident, and commanding; the same is expected of women leaders. These expectations are coupled with the stereotypes of femininity. So, women-workers are supposed to be doing emotional labor and be involved in caretaking at best based on these stereotypes.

What is bitchy boss?

Bitchy boss represents females bosses characterized by malicious, spiteful, or arrogant behavior. However, female high-achievers leaders sometimes find themselves tagged as ‘bitchy bosses’ just because of dedicated work.


Dealing with a Bitchy Boss – Female Bully Boss?

Women at work are often expected to deal with situations where they are supposed to make a person feel less annoyed or angry while being at the best behavior, which is always expected of women. It gives a feeling of exhaustion and frustration, and this frustration goes unnoticed by them at the other end. These feelings are less apparent amidst all the patient laughs, smiley faces, pretentious exclamations, and unacclaimed tasks in-office tasks. The outcome of such tasks is not having enough time and effort left for actually leading.

The practice of creating a workplace environment where performance norms are based on gender has become so subtle that not only women are asked to perform such tasks, but women at higher or same positions can ask other women to do so.


What she has often heard from women about women who are at a senior post is they feel that they don’t pay enough attention. They don’t identify them as their own as they thought they would, and women leaders often act more like men than actual men do. Then she reminds those women that they might be coming off.

The notion that says women are more inclined to compete and passing judgment on other women. It is a tale that we’ve heard over and over in our gossips, movies, and TV shows; it is a story that we continue to be written over and over without being ripped up. It is the basis of the trap of gendered manager-to-supervise thinking.


When there is conflict among women and leadership positions are taken up by a woman, it is easier to deduce that conflict between two women is interpreted as personal conflict and seen more negatively because of the stereotype surrounding them. And it’s not because women take things. Personally, they don’t. To put it simply, the conflict between managers and their employees are dependent on the power that women hold in both the company and the culture.

There are some issues, to say the least. A survey was conducted on Twitter to determine if women have come across a female-boss who has challenged them to examine their own ascribed sexism. The survey talked about the factors in a relationship between female superiors and subordinates and the dual-edge responsibilities one has to face as a female boss and invited them to come forward with their thoughts and feelings. As I hoped, the answers about internalized sexism would be measured and given after putting in a lot of thought; many of them were.

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Many people expressed their anger by using some well-known words, such as inconsequential, impolite, rigid, hostile, nit-picking, nightmare, patronizing, sensitive, micromanager, and dull. Women are willing to talk trash about their current or ex-female managers. But would it be the same for the males? Would they express their emotions the same way about their managers? It may happen, but the language may be different.

Even after actively complaining about their bosses, many people understood that they were in double-bind and had many other responsibilities to look after. Despite knowing this and being empathetic of their situation, they described their horrible behavior and that they sucked.

Some of the views that people commonly expressed were:

For women in senior positions, there are extrinsic and intrinsic factors that put pressure on them. So, they have to try and work harder than their counterparts. The fault is in the system and not in the people. But they feel withdrawn when they have to work for a female boss.

Some women are the only ones in charge of their organization, and the male workers often joke about them and ridicule them. This makes them feel more pressure and often lash out.

Some women make changes to their personal lives and complain less with their partners to seem less professional. They won’t stand by the women in their team even when they are a nightmare.

A woman’s expectations to be sensible, great leaders, be sensitive in taking care of things, and a buddy is noticeable. This is too much for a single person and even organizations to address and counter this problem as it originates from a bigger and broader culture.

The expectations often put a lot of pressure on women. When women show kindness and compassion, they are admired but reminded that they don’t have enough potential to be leaders. On the other hand, when they show confidence in their words, they are labeled as aggressive. To avoid being called aggressive, women often find themselves using suggestive words to make their requests look like questions.

Many women managers don’t wish to make it all about gender, and they spend most of the time trying to do it. When gender becomes a sizeable issue, it is bound to work against you. This desire to minimizing the role that gender plays results in senior women trying to avoid becoming a guide or anything that a junior woman wants from her senior.

Lifting the subordinate women is not the priority of female managers regarding expectations from her juniors—the same junior who would complain about her and call her horrible in an online survey.

The Damage

Nobody likes it when asked to undertake emotional labor, and gender doesn’t decide people’s feelings or reactions. As per a study conducted in 2001, men and women respond differently when asked to perform emotional labor. Academic research showed that when men perform emotional labor, they are applauded. When a man does something caring proves him to be emotionally intelligent and is liked by all.

On the other hand, when women do some emotional labor, it is natural, it is expected of them, and it is nothing extraordinary. This turns against the women in senior positions who don’t match the stereotypes of feminine ideals with their behavior, tone, and appearance. These ideals are attached to ideas of race, sexual orientation, and class. In 2001, the same study also found something disturbing: when a man shows anger at the workplace, he is considered authoritative; it is seen as a proof of power and flaw rather than a personality flaw. On the other hand, when a woman shows anger in the same situation, she is advised to see a therapist for her anger issues.

It still surprises many women when people tell that they have only worked under female supervisors and managers. They express their wish of working under a man who involves less drama and wonder what it would have been like to work under a female-only. But it is just a little example of a much bigger problem where women are even punished for taking leadership positions in many organizations’ work culture.

If researches are to be believed, women who are successful in male dominate organizations are generally disliked. Women who can take a stand for themselves seem less hireable. The woman who shows anger at the workplace is downgraded to a lower class altogether, and then they are termed as harsh and mean.

Kieran Snyder, a linguist, conducted a sample study on a performance review of men and women and found that 58.9% had negative feedback about men. In comparison, 87.9% of the feedback that women received was critical of them. The feedback given to men was about learning some new skills to help them perform their job better. On the other hand, women received feedback such as you come out as harsh or soft with your tone.

The problem is not if women are like that or not, the problem seems to be that men and women are acting the same way, but the women are taking the hit for their actions. The terrifying finding of all was that all the time that a manager or a would-be manager needs to be visible, do valued work, and get ahead is robbed off of them when they are desired to act as a guide, a mother, and a best friend for everyone.

The expectations of fellow women are unjust, and they are responsible for holding them back.

Making A Difference: 

Despite such deep gender bias, change is an undeniable possibility. It begins when women don’t expect other women to be how gender stereotypes in a culture dictate and let them be themselves. Women need to be straightforward and decisive, and co-workers will prefer their supervisor to be clear and work-oriented. Don’t go about nervously asking your juniors to meet a deadline. Be clear and confident with your requests. 

One of the best instances of women showing solidarity and recognition at the workplace is the strategy employed by the White House’s female staffers during the presidency of Obama. Whenever someone from the female staff suggested any idea, she would give credit to the who came up with it woman while repeating it. President Obama noticed and started calling the women staffers frequently.

In-meeting amplifications do only so little to fix it because the whole system is broken. Women need to understand the role of the system and themselves that has got them here. Women must understand the stereotypes that have created this problem and how they might trigger them. They need to pay attention to the point in which a female leader is held in esteem or otherwise in the work environment in general. This is the way they can avoid creating problems for each other and improve upon their workplace relationship.

She says to be very cautious about not acting upon those stereotypes and creating a more casual conversation among women. Avoid reacting to any trigger and be constantly conscious of ways your relationship might get affected due to stereotypes, and constantly controlling yourself.

Be mindful of how your relationship with your women colleagues might take a hit because of the stereotypes and keeping a check on yourself.

The same is true for women supervisor managing their juniors. Most of the time, senior women have to protect themselves because of the bad stereotype around them. Getting onto the defensive mode is easy, but it makes it hard for your colleagues to make good work relationships with you or work for you.

The burdens on female bosses and seniors are invisible because they are hidden so well. This makes it very hard to arrive at a solution, but it doesn’t mean we give up on it altogether. We have to closely monitor and examine our thinking and behavior towards all the gender in a managerial position.

A positive start can be creating an environment of self-dependence where things never get personal. There needs to be a space for conversation about limits & boundaries, invisible work & nature, and emotional labor. And just like the old-age tradition of a man self-promoting, there should be no objection to it when a woman does the same.

Daniel Smith
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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is an experienced economist and financial analyst from Utah. He has been in finance for nearly two decades, having worked as a senior analyst for Wells Fargo Bank for 19 years. After leaving Wells Fargo Bank in 2014, Daniel began a career as a finance consultant, advising companies and individuals on economic policy, labor relations, and financial management. At, Daniel writes about personal finance topics, value estimation, budgeting strategies, retirement planning, and portfolio diversification. Read more on Daniel Smith's biography page. Contact Daniel:

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