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AIBU to be sick of privileged, older white men - join my tiny rant!

430 replies

windygallows · 04/11/2018 10:29

Yup I'm probably unreasonable but I just want to put out there how sick I am of working with privileged, older white men - 40 plus and often 'posh'.

They dominate the upper echelons of the organization I work in as well as all the organizations I liaise with. Some are very good but many aren't due their seniority nor are they that smart - but they are well spoken and confident so whatever they say comes across as read. Their smuggery is driven by their high self regard and knowledge that they are 'where they belong'.

And despite their seniority they are often mollycoddled and supported by (usually female) PAs and completely enabled by wives at home who have been supporting them for 20+ years to the point that they take all the support for granted. They are so enabled that all they have to do is go to work and everything else is sorted for them - it's kind of a carefree oblivion they hold and thus they are completely oblivious to the challenges that others (e.g. women) face in their day to day lives.

I see this male privilege everywhere and everyday. In my boss who is completely self absorbed and with a family set up that enables and supports the fact that he is Number one. In other work scenarios, like when I was interviewed last week by a panel of important men + one woman from HR brought in to balance out the panel. I see 'important white men' driving fast in their cars, beeping up behind me in the fast lane as they need to go to their important meeting. Male privilege is everywhere and am sick of it.

From age 50 (my age) the number of women in the workforce starts to drop significantly and I'm wondering if it's because they're just sick of working with the men I describe!

I can't be the only person to feel this way. Please join me in this tiny rant!

OP posts:
WickedLazy · 05/11/2018 09:43

I know men like this. It's the smugness that they're so perfect, well turned out, always early etc, with no credit to the women who help them acheive that. My grandfather in law is a bit like this. He had a respectable job, he was always up and out early, neat as a pin. He forgets to mention he barely spent any time with his kids, his dw and mil, did 90% of the child care, laundry, general wide work etc (and his dw worked too). When his dw passed away, dil took over his laundry, shopping, keping track of his Dr's appointment, yet he's sneery of men who don't need a woman/women to look after them, and thus are a bit scruffier, have to spend more time with kids.

Anolder guy in work is like this, his wife is really ill, and he's falling apart. She's only been ill a few days and he's already lost without her. Sad situation and I hope she gets better soon, I do wonder how much of his grief is selfish though, all the things he now has to do for himself. My grandfather was an awful blunt, obvious misogynist. My gran had to stay in hospital for two days, for a bad break. I had to go and tidy before she got home, knew he wouldn't have bothered his hole and his crap would be everywhere (it was), and it would stress her out. I ended up feeling sorry for him when I realised all he'd eaten was porridge the whole time she'd been away, as he couldn't cook. Made him dinner and cleared up again before I left. I was 14!

lisasimpsonssaxophone · 05/11/2018 09:44

White males are the least likely to go onto to further education in this country, you have more chance of going to university if you are a white female (1st by some margin) or if you are asian or black than if you are a white male.

Class privilege also comes into play there. But can’t you see that this is also sort of my point? If more women and PoC are going to uni then why are the upper ranks still absolutely dominated by a very particular kind of man?

My undergrad course was 90% women. So was my masters. My industry is almost entirely women at entry level and middle-management. Yet you get to the top rank and suddenly all these middle-aged white men all appear, earning ten times what those of us lower down earn and with compulsory bonuses written into their contracts. And they haven’t worked their way up the ranks like the rest of us are trying to. They all seem to step in sideways like they woke up one morning and thought ‘hey, working in X might be fun’. And someone just gave it to them because their faces fit and they’re charismatic and seem like they’d make good leaders.

It happens. It happens all the time. It really, truly does.

WickedLazy · 05/11/2018 09:46

*Excuse awful typos, trying to type and eat at the same time. Because I'm unlucky enough to not have a wife to do things for me, so I have to multitask.

WitchyMcWitchface · 05/11/2018 09:50

I wonder if public schools used to turn out overpriveleged boys who expected to run the world whilst turning out overpriveleged girls who wanted to run a fancy art gallery in Knightsbridge. Lots of former public school boys are senior directors but where are the girls? Or are they just mummies?
We have Ms Dick head of the met, ms Seal jt Head of London Fire Brigade, Ms Batters President of the NFU. Things are changing.

WitchyMcWitchface · 05/11/2018 09:52

By just mummies I meant solely mummies wasn't meant pejoratively.

Changingeveryth · 05/11/2018 09:52

So much in this thread I can relate to. I was so naive coming out of uni about all of this. I've made my choices in the system we work in. It isn't ideal but the ideal option wasn't there. I hope it is better for my DD. I make the small changes I can and I see progress although it is pretty slow.

LauderSyme · 05/11/2018 09:58

You are not being unreasonable at all. I am struggling to see how anyone could think you are, tbh. Anyone who's not in complete denial about structural class, race and gender inequality, that is.

jmfan · 05/11/2018 10:08

I haven't read the whole thread but I totally agree with you. I think it needs to be addressed at home as well as work.

But I am partly a hypocrite on this because when my kids were young I did a lot of the 'wife-work' as I wanted to be at home with the kids a bit more (I always continued to WOHM, mostly full time actually, but fairly flexibly). I was therefore one of those women who facilitated a man to progress. Sort of by choice. I am now working hard to get him to understand and perhaps take on the mental load I carry that he doesn't. But this causes arguments as for example he thinks I am ungrateful for the hard work he put/puts into his job, which has at times been very stressful. The personal is political and all that - but it's hard to fight political battles in your home, everyday.

Anyway, one of the things that particularly annoys me with the diversity agenda currently is that I am often asked (this is sort of part of my job!) how we can protect men's egos, on the basis that apparently they are feeling increasingly threatened. I'm always like: WTF?? I think men should be able to manage their own egos, it's not like women haven't had their egos crushed watching less qualified men being promoted above their heads for DECADES!

WickedLazy · 05/11/2018 10:13

I work pt in a job that's right at the bottom of the working class hierarchy (just above stripping and sex work etc). I don't mind it, I do it because the hours mean I can still take ds to school, and get back in time to collect him again and spend the rest of the day with him. My ex was quite sneery about my job recently, and I was furious. How dare he, I'm missing out on an education and a career, (not for too much longer though thankfully), to raise our ds. He's always worked what hours suited him, and expected to see ds when it suits him. Never given a thought as to where ds will be, because his mum, me and my mum, have always sorted that. So selfish. Ironically when I did work ft hours in a different job, I earned a lot more than him. I imagine he can be a nightmare to work with, selfish, entitled, sexist, no "common sense", bad listener..

GalateaDunkel · 05/11/2018 10:26

If more women and PoC are going to uni then why are the upper ranks still absolutely dominated by a very particular kind of man?

It's age I think. Give it a generation or two. You would expect given the demographics of the country and the years of consistent full time work required that white men in their 50's would be well represented in upper management positions.

There are plenty of women who ride the director merry go round at that age as well.

SilentIsla · 05/11/2018 10:42

University education is higher education, not further education.

ZackPizzazz · 05/11/2018 10:43

Those who are interested in this kind of thing might enjoy this book:

[https://www.<a class="break-all" href="//amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0691169276?tag=mumsnet&ascsubtag=mnforum-21" rel="nofollow noindex" target="_blank">https://amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0691169276?tag=mumsnet&ascsubtag=mnforum-21 Privilege - How elite students get elite jobs]

It's by a sociologist who did an embedded study looking at the recruitment by the highest paid jobs in society: FS, law, and top tier consulting. One of her insights: when recruitment involved e.g. a cognitive ability or reasoning test and a white man did poorly on it, the test wasn't particularly important and could be overlooked. When a woman or BME man did poorly on it, the test was extremely important and the person couldn't possibly be considered for hire.

jmfan · 05/11/2018 10:48

Re: Privilege (the book) you see this all the time, in all sorts of jobs. Essentially white, middle-class men convey authority and expertise in our society. Everyone else has to constantly prove it, to varying degrees or another, and with varying degrees of success. Most white, middle-class men will not accept the extent of their privilege partly because they can't see it and also because doing so might undermine their own positive sense of self, which relies on a belief that they achieved their success on the basis of merit, objectively defined.

Galatea - it's not age. If this were a pipeline effect, it would have been solved ages ago.

ZackPizzazz · 05/11/2018 10:52

Sorry, the book's actually called Pedigree and the link kept effing up.


TheViceOfReason · 05/11/2018 10:56

Of course it exists - and unfortunately in many companies pushing back against this behaviour can be a very career limiting move.

I am very thankful that in my company there is only 1 person like this (the General Manager). He has ZERO understanding of what is required to organise anything at all as his wife does everything at home and he expects everyone at work to organise him here.

I refuse to pander to it and always have (and always will) call him out on this behaviour. I have used the phrases "what did your last servant die of", "i'm not your wife" and "do it your bloody self" on numerous occasions. he does have the good grace to look guilty and then sort himself out.

However i am senior enough to do so and in a company where i won't be penalised for it.

lisasimpsonssaxophone · 05/11/2018 11:01

It's age I think. Give it a generation or two. You would expect given the demographics of the country and the years of consistent full time work required that white men in their 50's would be well represented in upper management positions.

But it’s not that. As I said, the men getting those jobs (many of whom are well below 50) haven’t put in the ‘years of consistent full time work required’ at all. I’ve seen it over and over in my industry. Countless people (not only women, but experienced men too) who’ve done the relevant degrees and clawed their way up from entry level, only to get rejected for the top jobs in favour of some slick, privileged man with no knowledge of the industry who gets parachuted in from some kind of miscellaneous leadership role elsewhere. Then the experienced candidate who just got rejected for the promotion is normally expected to deputise for the new guy and help him learn the ropes while he gets paid 20k more than her (or him).

As I said before, if you don’t believe it happens then I can’t convince you otherwise, but if you worked in my field you’d understand. You’d see it happening over and over, with your own eyes.

quartzy · 05/11/2018 11:14

It's not age. When younger I was told 'Don't be silly, it'll be different in 20 years. Look around you, there are many women training now, and we're running all these programs to encourage them. Just wait until they are qualified and in the workforce taking the senior roles'.

But it's not different now. Female peers from my junior years have simply disappeared. It won't be different in another 20 years without a fundamental change.

lisasimpsonssaxophone · 05/11/2018 11:19

I wonder if public schools used to turn out overpriveleged boys who expected to run the world whilst turning out overpriveleged girls who wanted to run a fancy art gallery in Knightsbridge. Lots of former public school boys are senior directors but where are the girls?

I went to a private school which turned out plenty of privileged girls who you could easily imagine running the world one day. Lots of smart, confident young women who people were sure would be future prime ministers etc. My friend was one of them: she was one of the most ambitious people I knew. She went to Oxbridge and got an amazing job in the city right out of uni.

Now we’re in our 30s I see her being worn down by constantly being overlooked and dismissed by the men she works with and having to ‘play catch up’ after maternity leave, during which her bosses gave away all her clients so that she had literally nothing to do when she came back. Now she feels like a has-been while scrappy young men start to rise above her. It’s honestly so depressing to see: she’s the kind of person who makes you think ‘if she can’t make it, then what hope do the rest of us have?’

I would bet it’s a similar story for lots of those other ‘overprivileged private school girls’ too. The privilege gets you a long way but you still can’t escape the fact that you’re a woman!

TheSmallClangerWhistlesAgain · 05/11/2018 11:39

I agree with saxophone above. So many of my school and university peers were high achievers, ambitious, confident, the sort of young women you could imagine taking over the world. At some point, they hit a glass wall that seems not to exist for a certain kind of mediocre-but-reliable, face-fits man.

It definitely exists in the organisation I work for (Civil Service). Every other year, they "make a commitment" to promoting more women, more non-white people, more people with disabilities, yet the ones who rise to the top are almost always smooth, outwardly affable, not particularly intelligent or insightful middle-aged white men. In my particular org, they are often ex-military as well.

It's got to the stage where I tell myself I don't want to be promoted now, because I like my job and care about it.

GalateaDunkel · 05/11/2018 12:02

Well it comes back to the fact that these companies were built by white men. You can't force them to give up control of them, but what can be done is to start new companies that do not have the same stuffy attitudes, or not to work for companies where these attitudes persist. There no doubt men who ride the merry go round of exec positions and get parachuted into positions they seem unqualified for, but that happens with women too. I won't name examples but there are many.

JacquesHammer · 05/11/2018 12:08

I wonder how many of these men - when giving news someone doesn't like gets "can I speak to your manager" - of course they assume that (a) there is a manager (b) they're male and (c) that will give them their own way.

It has happened to me as recently as last month

Unobtainable · 05/11/2018 12:14

Completely agree with you OP, in fact this topic has been raised several times under the heading ‘women who facilitate men’ or ‘men who are facilitated by women.’

I think some men and women are completely oblivious to the situation but others, as shown on this thread, seem to want to blame you and feel your perceived lack of progression is down to sour grapes, lack of ability or hormones.

Those in power dont give it up easily and they prefer their own kind.

Dontfeellikeaskeleton · 05/11/2018 12:24

It's so much about looking the part too. A guy at work basically looks like grandad dog and gets away with murder.

Dontfeellikeaskeleton · 05/11/2018 12:26

Obviously the class system is hugely at play here roo: there aren't many working class blokes running Fortune 500 companies either.

FaFoutis · 05/11/2018 12:36

My dh is working class and northern, he has been looking for a fairly senior job in London but wasn't getting anywhere being interviewed by privately educated southern men (who gave the jobs to the same). DH got a job with a firm run by non-English nationals. I don't think that is a coincidence.

The irony is that DH breaking the class barrier now throws me under the bus as a facilitator. Mind you, I gave up on the idea of (academic) career progression years ago as I did not go to Oxford and I do not have a wife.

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