This is a hard question that I have found myself asking lately. I believe it’s only been since I have made the transition into management. I’ve read many articles where successful women from around the world have identified that their success in management is down to becoming a bitch and not giving a single fuck about it. The idea that you must be a bitch to succeed in a man’s world was completely alien to me. I have also always associated the word bitch with some truly crazy female characters like Cruella de Vil and the modern-day version, Katie Hopkins. My childhood idols were the likes of Julia Andrews in the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself recreating the hills are alive with the sound of music, having 20 construction workers parade behind me singing doe ray me fully clad in high vis garments I made in my spare time. Let’s get back to the point, Maria was a loveable character who also followed the moral high road and told the captain exactly what she believed to be right even if it made her ‘disposable’ or unlikeable for a period of time. Ok now I’ll stop with the terrible analogy. In short. I truly believed that no women needs to become a bitch in order to get ahead in a man’s world. Why can’t we be liked as well as respected for being stern in order to get the job done?
Now, I like to think of myself as a zero kind of fucks given girl when it comes to being liked. But who am I kidding, I want to be liked just as much as the next person. When I was an engineer I was one of the lads, sharing banter and supporting their work. I was never really in charge of anyone else other than myself and if I was challenged with the task of asking the lads to do specific jobs it always came from senior management so I was merely the messenger or barer of bad news. If the instruction was met with resistance or outrage, it was easily deflected as “something those twats in management are demanding”. Fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in the predicament of being both an engineer and also a project manager. Now for the most part I can still deflect to higher management but I find myself less willing to and more importantly wanting to gain the respect for being able to lead a team and demand what might be necessary from them.