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Feminism: chat

Female Lead, Treated Like A Junior?!

22 replies

SoManyQuestionsHere · 14/05/2022 21:02

I'll try to keep this reasonably short and as vague as I can for my own protection:

I am a female Senior Manager in my firm. I've also "grown up" here, having been hired straight out of uni. I've had stellar performance ratings for every single year for the going on a decade that I've been here. And, while this is not information I am SUPPOSED to be privy to, I know for a fact that I was rated 1/4000 at least once. In summary: I've not got a performance issue!

In my day job, I am a portfolio lead and responsible for some >15m pa worth of business. I am the unofficial (only because that title doesn't exist) COO of this operation and introduced as such by my boss.

That'll ALL be in my work organisation!

In my line organisation, I am being treated like a recent graduate! Having asked for a stretch and more responsibility, the suggestions they have come up with have included "why don't you organise a team event?" and "oh, we could use some help compiling credentials for XY sale [orders of magnitude smaller than what I have lead and won]".

Here's why I'm posting this in Feminism: my firm has gender quotas (which I - reluctantly but genuinely - think are needed). My line org has male colleagues who are no better than me on substance but favoured by our bosses gunning for promotion.

I suspect that me existing and doing a good enough job may be considered "inopportune" on the grounds that it may raise the question "why is your entire shortlist male when [my name] is equally as eligible, female, and a stellar performer?"

For the record: I've reached out beyond the people who thought "Team dinner organisation" was appropriate and have been offered all manners of roles ranging from "Senior [function] Director" to "Strategic Business Development - open up new clients" on the spot. It's clearly NOT as though nobody else thinks I am capable of more than organising a team dinner!

WWYD? I have plenty of options to take a lateral transfer out of my line org - but I also feel sorely tempted to stay on, take one of the many roles on offer, slay it, and continue to be an uncomfortable fact.

OP posts:

StopStartStop · 14/05/2022 21:05

Get a new job.
My dd had similar and after a brief fight that got her nowhere, moved elsewhere for more money and some respect.
Don't waste your energy proving a point.


AlisonDonut · 14/05/2022 21:10

I don't understand. How are you responsible for £15m worth of business and only allowed to organise events?


SoManyQuestionsHere · 14/05/2022 21:16

@AlisonDonut , matrix organisation:

I am, both in terms of actual rank and function, a Senior Leader in my work organisation.

That is completely separate from my line organisation: there, I am still a senior leader in terms of rank - but they seem to be pretending that I'm a recent graduate in terms of the roles they think would be appropriate for me.

OP posts:

donquixotedelamancha · 14/05/2022 21:17

I have plenty of options to take a lateral transfer out of my line org - but I also feel sorely tempted to stay on, take one of the many roles on offer, slay it, and continue to be an uncomfortable fact.

Nope. Move on and up and when asked about your previous managers explain that you moved because they don't promote women and kept asking you to (effectively) make the tea. Ideally become their boss.

No point tilting at windmills, just be utterly honest about the problem.


donquixotedelamancha · 14/05/2022 21:24

Nope. Move on and up and when asked about your previous managers explain that you moved because they don't promote women and kept asking you to (effectively) make the tea. Ideally become their boss.

Actually, thinking about it, I suppose that really depends on what your line organisation is and what career you want. For example if you really want to focus on HR you'd have to stay will them.

In you do decide to stay I really think you need to tackle it head on, starting with a frank, off the record, chat with the manager of that line.


SoManyQuestionsHere · 14/05/2022 21:47

Ideally become their boss.

Basically what I am considering! One of the roles I have, literally, been offered on the spot was "become the owner of, literally, the biggest new deal this firm has made in your area for years!"

It's a great role, and I have known the person who'd be my boss for years. He's a good egg, has his flaws, but I respect him deeply as someone extremely capable as well as genuinely kind.

Him and me (again, this is work/line stuff within a matrix organisation), go way back, and I know he's completely reliable when he says "if you want it, it's yours the moment you say yes!"

I'm so extremely tempted to take it, because I also know that line manager (same guy who thinks I could do team dinner) has one of his male favourites lined up for the spot.

Call me petty (and, I AM when you treat me like a child!!!), but: the role sounds painful but brilliant, and I'd genuinely enjoy seeing line manager fall flat on his face when the "girl" he thought could do team dinners gets the job he thought was going to make one of his favourites partner!

OP posts:

Wallywobbles · 14/05/2022 22:25

Do it. You only live once. It's needs shaking up.


Sealwright · 15/05/2022 08:18

They have got comfortable letting you do the work, they are not going to change. Why put your life on hold for their convenience,?


HairyBum · 15/05/2022 08:38

Take it


topcat2014 · 15/05/2022 08:58

I recently moved jobs to a job where the title matched the work (CFO).

I recommend moving. Change is as good as a rest.

Employers always do the bare minimum to keep existing staff sweet. They know this.


ZandathePanda · 15/05/2022 10:54

Do not go for the job to avenge other people. Go for the job you want for you.


nordicwannabe · 16/05/2022 05:57

Do not go for the job to avenge other people. Go for the job you want for you.

This. Stop thinking about them. You're wasting energy, and won't make the best decision.

The best revenge is a life well-lived.


SoManyQuestionsHere · 16/05/2022 19:27

Thanks all!

And, no, I'm not really considering taking a role just to spite people.

I am, however, seriously considering three of the roles I have been offered because they all sound great. If I take one of them, I'll also request a lateral transfer. I really do not need a line org that patronises me when various other parts of the firm very obviously seem to think I'm extremely capable!

Not looking to change employers altogether: see above, I have friends and champions here - and, apart from my direct superiors in my line organisation - also enjoy it!

I still am planning to take the issue up with current partner level boss, though. Even if I am to transfer out. He should stop complaining that he has diversity issues (he does) and start understanding that they are of his own making when he treats male Managers and even Supervisors more like adults than female Senior Managers.

Yes, I've since found I'm not quite alone in this!

OP posts:

Herbyhippo · 16/05/2022 19:34

Take the job! Which role will give you the most opportunity for future prospects? Ask for a payrise too!


JamieFrasersBigSwingingKilt · 16/05/2022 19:48

If the opportunities appeal then go for it. I'm very familiar with matrix organisations (Big 4) and it's dog eat dog. Move across and show what you can do. You'll make director in no time and be on the path to partner, rather than being kept in your box. Once you're partner you'll be able to advocate for women more effectively too. Good luck! Sounds like you're fantastic at your job.


SoManyQuestionsHere · 16/05/2022 20:33

@JamieFrasersBigSwingingKilt, ... Big4 sort of hit the nail on the head!

And, yes, I've been on that unofficial "partner material" long list for a while (and I was made aware). Which is why my alarms were triggered when my line org started acting funny, and how come I suspect it may be a "standing in the way of some heir apparent" thing.

OP posts:

JamieFrasersBigSwingingKilt · 16/05/2022 21:14

Then seize the opportunity with both hands. Global domination awaits!


NoToLandfill · 24/05/2022 05:19

Why are you even considering not taking the job?
Yes you are being sidelined.
Would a man be an unofficial partner?


QuinkWashable · 26/05/2022 09:49

Yep, pick your favourite and make the move - there's nothing you can do about the blockage, so you have to go round it.

When I'm asked to do things that are well beneath my role (outside of a startup situation, or consultant situation - where I do what's needed to be done as getting paid is the goal there), I immediately, in front of whoever asked me to do it, assign it to an appropriate subordinate - or if it's completely out of my wheelhouse, tell them they need to talk to X who is the right person for that job.


Ringsender2 · 26/05/2022 11:03

I'm too old to be a high flyer now, but watching with interest, as I have a keen interest in women's success in the workplace, and helping to achieve that.

You sound as though you have your head extremely well screwed on, OP. Good luck with your next moves.


BakeOffRewatch · 26/05/2022 11:07

I honestly don’t understand why staying is an option at all, and why you’re not taking one of the roles in other lines of business as default option.


Ecclesfreckles · 26/05/2022 11:19

Familiar with this being ex big 4 and moving laterally where you have more support is the only way to progress. Sr Manager + promotions are a lot more about the politics and favouritism than genuine ability, so go where your champions are. I've seen partners give the best leads to their favourite SM's and Directors to ensure they hit targets and look good for promotion case. Not even necessarily a male/female thing - just a favourites thing.

As an aside, this may also be a good time to consider an industry role. I've been surprised by how comparable the compensation is without all the revenue hassles, and much better work life balance. Depending on industry you're in, some have much more equitable male-female hierarchies than the big 4.

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