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The more successful a woman, the less likeable she is. AIBU?

(75 Posts)
Moknicker Mon 11-Mar-13 14:20:58

Heard Sheryl Sandberg say this todayv (radio) and have to say I agree with her. When a woman does a good job - people say well done but you have put people off, been aggressive. Have had this in my career and been told to "smile more".

The more successful a woman gets the less she is liked. Conversely the more successful a man gets, the more other men and women like him - can see this happening with DH.

How do I let my DD grow up with the attitude that she can be extremely successful at whatever she wants but also be liked as a person.

So AIBU - do you think you/ are/ know successful and likeable women?

Trills Mon 11-Mar-13 15:30:01

A woman "blows her own trumpet", a man is "confident and proud of his achievement".

Moknicker Mon 11-Mar-13 15:30:09

Hecate ^I don't think women at the top are less likeable.

I think people like women at the top less... ^

Good point - well made smile

Trills Mon 11-Mar-13 15:32:03

Maybe the title should be "the more successful a woman is the less likeable she is considered"

Absy Mon 11-Mar-13 15:41:52

I don't think this is necessarily true.

1. Just because you're successful doesn't mean that you're likable - there were many reports that Steve Jobs was a complete arse but I think men (in general) are less likely to have that be their one feature that's highlighted than woman. Also, sometimes to be successful means that you're liked less - you have to make difficult/unpopular choices which will make you unpopular which leads to ...
2. That generally woman are expected to be more friendly/nice/people pleasey than men. And so if they're alienating people (for legitimate reasons or not) it's viewed as "un-feminine" or some other such rubbish.

And yes, the double standards - if a woman stands her ground she's "pushy, difficult and bossy", if a man does it he's "strong, forthright"

However, I have worked with/met/gone to talks by some very successful women who are really lovely and excellent at their jobs, e.g. Lady Judge, Baroness Kennedy (haven't worked with them, but went to talks by them). Also, generally speaking, women are less arrogant/boastful about their successes, which is refreshing.

StephaniePowers Mon 11-Mar-13 15:46:30

Successful people are busy, and very busy people are often not liked, simply because they don't 'give out' enough friendliness - they haven't the time.

I think that's doubly true for women, who are most likely and not in all cases going to be also managing domestic shit as well.

Trills Mon 11-Mar-13 15:49:10

Good point Absy - being "likeable" is seen as more essential in a woman than in a man, so if a woman rates a C in likeability (I'm thinking ABCDE here) she is seen as not likeable enough, whereas a man rating a C would be seen as having a normal/acceptable level of likeability.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 11-Mar-13 15:52:52

All part and parcel of the importance of being nice for women.

Springdiva Mon 11-Mar-13 15:54:26

So is it societal influences or is it human nature which result in our attitudes to senior women.

I think it is probably a combination.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 11-Mar-13 15:58:12

I think its how you define successful. You don't have to be employed or in business to be successful.
We are all successful in many things in life, people like us if we are nice.

RocknRollNerd Mon 11-Mar-13 16:17:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 11-Mar-13 16:33:01

I hate to say it, but I think it's true. The vast majority of women I know personally that are very successful in professional careers (I'm thinking of doctors, lawyers, high grade managers) are not very likeable. I often like them, as do enough other people, but all but one of the 15 or so women I am thinking of have other people we both know that don't like them.

I'm not sure that its that people don't like women at the top, because I am not thinking of people I know through their jobs.

Tryharder Mon 11-Mar-13 19:12:15

I know a lot of very successful and lovely women. This isnt true at all. I hate attitudes like this. A man is allowed to be successful and a good guy but 'we' as a society can only stomach the concept of a successful woman if we can bitch about her personality.

WilsonFrickett Mon 11-Mar-13 19:21:23

It has honestly never crossed my mind to wonder if people find me likeable or not. Effective, efficient, a good motivator and leader, creative - all these things have been on my job description before, but until 'have people like you' is, it's not something I'm bothered about.

poorchurchmouse Mon 11-Mar-13 19:35:23

YABU for the reasons other posters have given - qualities that are seen as positive in a man are seen as negative in a woman.

Though I have to say it was very liberating professionally when I realised in my mid-thirties that it didn't actually matter whether people liked me or not. I am nice and reasonable to deal with at work - I don't do the alpha behaviour nonsense - but I don't give a stuff whether colleagues positively like me personally or not.

cleofatra Mon 11-Mar-13 19:36:18

I don't agree. In my workplace, both men and women are considered to be trumpet blowers . Or glory hunters. Maybe it's the culture of the place and I acknowledge thats not the same in all worplaces.

My point is that it is often these insecure women who make a bad name for the quiet and strongly successful majority. Like a bad caricature.

Wookiee101 Mon 11-Mar-13 19:37:25

I definitely think that there is a stereotype of a "ball buster" that gets touted when a successful woman is in charge and it pisses me off.

I think it all falls to the fact that it is not considered feminine to be assertive, confident and successful in what we do. We are constantly told that woman are the facilitators (eg receptionist, PA, administrators) for the men to go about their important business of running the companies and departments within them so when a woman rises through the ranks and does well in management she is an abnormality and can't possibly be a nice person or likeable because she thinks she better than all the other women and men.

It seems incredible that we even have to talk about this in 2013 as it should be much more commonplace to see woman in positions of power and applauding their success, but short of a major shift in how women are perceived and valued, I think we'll be talking about it for many years to come.

wordfactory Mon 11-Mar-13 19:45:59

As soon as women display qualities that will make them successful, they are seen as stepping out of gender recognised roles.

People find that uncomfortable.

Too bad.

BlueSkySunnyDay Mon 11-Mar-13 19:46:53

Having worked for both I can say hand on heart I would rather work for a man than a woman as I find women mangers far less understanding, more likely to take credit for work I have done rather than give me credit and just plain hard work.

You kind of imagine that a woman who is successful must be really together and confident but the ones I worked for have been some of the most needy insecure people I have known.

cleofatra Mon 11-Mar-13 19:47:42

I agree bluesky.
I would rather work for a man and have had the pleasure of both in many jobs.

wordfactory Mon 11-Mar-13 19:48:28

And op, I would tell your DD what I tell my DD.

If she is super successful, some people, male and female, will criticise her. Providing she acts with what she considers to be integrity, she should ignore it.

Fillyjonk75 Mon 11-Mar-13 19:58:05

Why just confine it to women? And what do you mean by "successful"?

I define success as achieving contentment and also helping to facilitate contentment for those around you. Being well liked and respected. Being a good person and still trying to be better. Fulfilling your potential.

Nothing to do with money, status or "getting to the top" in my book.

I would agree that some people who do get to the top in business, politics, sport even are not very pleasant as individuals. But then that doesn't necessarily make them "successful", in my mind.

Fillyjonk75 Mon 11-Mar-13 20:03:11

I also think that women still get criticised for things that men don't. By other women as well. Being outspoken, forthright and opinionated, being determined and dogmatic, for example. DD1's headteacher is a case in point. People sometimes find her aloof or impersonal, or criticise her "people skills". I just don't think that sort of thing would get the same level of comment if she were male. She is really bloody excellent but often if women are not "female" enough - i.e. don't have traditional female qualities they get absolutely panned. Actually in some ways the same goes for men if they are not perceived to be "masculine" enough.

aldiwhore Mon 11-Mar-13 20:06:11

I can go only go experience. I'm not very 'successful' from a career ladder point of view and I'm rather nice. I hope.

One of my closest mates has a senior management role in a huge corporation and is lovely.

Another of my close mates is also very successful and a right uptight biatch.

Another hasn't got any career aspirations whatsoever and is a genuine delight.

Another is a twat.

I could go on... YABU (based on my own experiences) (and yes, I still like my twat friend and the uptight one)

sherazade Mon 11-Mar-13 20:06:40

I'm considered sccessful and generally don't 'have time for people'. I have so much going on in my head that I get irritated by people even trying to make conversation with me sometimes.

My children come first. Career next. I spend time in the gym. No time for anything/anyone else except mumsnet for respite

Moknicker Mon 11-Mar-13 20:25:10

Filly - Why confine it to women?

Because the effect seems to be gender based i.e. when a man is successful, he tends to be more liked while success is inversely correlated with likeability for women.

You are right that success has a variety of meanings depending on context, however for the purposes of this thread, lets define it in the traditional way i.e. ability to have power and influence far above norms, increased status and/or money.

Bluesky - I know a lot of male bosses who that description would fit to a tee.

Aldi - Im sure even very successful women have close friends and family who love them. However, what Im talking about is perceptions among a wider audience ie. most of the rest of the world who do not have the time/ ability/ inclination to find out that they are lovely people (or not as the case might be).

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