I kind of expected a response to last month’s Good Old Girl Network column that would sound like the theme song from the movie, “Nine to Five.” Not so, but I have received some very interesting comments from successful companies on the distaff side; with few exceptions those comments are probably not what the “dear me folks” will like hearing.
The consensus among female CEOs, senior managers and other top operatives was that they did not regard the resistance to sales presentations or management procedures as gender bias but rather as the result of inadequate preparedness or presentation. Yes, of course, there will be those who act or even make distasteful or derogatory comments, but those can almost always be traced to people with whom you don’t want to do business anyway. Are there advantages to being a woman in certain business circumstances? You bet your pantyhose there are. I would much rather be selling against another male when competing for a kitchen project with a woman client. Given that everyone’s competency level is reasonably good, women have a huge advantage there (in my opinion). Even with a married couple the scales still tip that way. I think the reason behind this is the assumption that there is a natural rapport among women and it is easier to expand on, woman-to-woman. But broaden the project to a comprehensive addition or work that involves structural and dirt trades like excavating, then the balance will tip to the “seat-up” side. Men are more traditionally identified with the bulldozer set. Again, this has far more to do with tradition than knowledge, given that homeowners tend to make multi-thousand dollar decisions regarding remodeling without so much as checking a single reference on the contractor.
In my own very unscientific poll, I asked several women entrepreneurs to choose between having a male or a female boss, equally competent, and the male boss for the female manager won out across the board. The reasons given me had more to do with the perceived male tendency to be more predictable, solution oriented and decisive. None of the company owners over-generalized but seemed to feel when having to make the choice the male side might be more predictable — and predictability was very, very important to those who responded to my questions.