Female founders: listen up … you too suck at managing other women you hire (trust me, I know)

First, I am a female founder. And I sucked at managing other women on the team. Call it tough love? No, the opposite. Female founders for the most part, like other female execs trying to manage teams, find it hard to manage women more so than men. And the bottom line? We just haven’t been trained.

I’ve fallen into the trap where I find myself with my female colleagues being tougher, more combative, more skeptical and downright sometimes rude to them versus my male colleagues where I am more jovial, more bro-like and just all around nicer.

It seems like the battle of the sexism can never be won by women. We can’t seem to get up the ladder with men, and now with women, because women founders just suck at knowing how to work in an environment with other women.

We just don’t come across women that often and because of it, this alien/foreign situation becomes more of an obstacle versus an opportunity to grow the business. You feel it as a big liability on your shoulder and it burdens you.

So my going advice — go and seek out HR books on managing women and read them. Read to see how the sexes are different and how to be a better manager. See how to respect the sexes to get the most productive environment that supports each equally. Speak calmly in your meetings and don’t degrade or cast down or become indifferent to women while in the company of men. Be supportive, actually extra supportive. because your cues will help their male counterparts support them as well. And finally, when your startup has grown up, hire an HR manager.

  • Good post and I agree that it’s not easy to manage women in the workplace. I say that as a guy who has worked mainly alongside and above women for the past 4 years. There’s lots more bickering and talking behind each others backs. So much drama.

    My way of dealing with it is to just listen and not contribute to the trash talking, or to try to steer it in a more healthy direction. They usually forget about the whole conversation after a few minutes anyways; it’s like they just need to vent.

    I’ve always found it weird how women can talk so badly behind each others backs and yet act totally friendly to each others faces. Men are not like that. We can’t be fake in that way. If I don’t like a guy, I don’t act friendly to him in his face.

  • The best working environment that I have ever had was on an all women team. I am not sure that you’re experience at being a woman who can’t manage women is really representative of everyone else’s experience.

    It would have been more correct to say “I am a woman who sucks at managing women” unless you have some empirical evidence to show that women are harder to handle or do a poorer job managing other women than men do.

    I am constantly seeking to work with women because I enjoy the stronger sense of bonding and more supportive environment.

    And if you are “pre-baby” I will add that all of the women in my team got pregnant staggered over 2 month intervals (not planned), then we had staggered maternity leaves and then we all brought our babies with us to the office and had them with us during meetings. It was AMAZING, productivity was fantastic and we were all really happy.

  • You hit the nail on the head that male and female employees need to be managed differently but equally. Too often when we think of equal treatment, we think everyone needs to be treated exactly the same and I think that causes a lot of friction.

    You are right that the dynamics of genders are different and with an awareness that men and women are different but equal, we can start to explore ways to approach an equitable and effective work environment that works with both genders.

    I’m male, BTW.

  • Coming from working in a heavily male environment … the men can also be catty bitches. I’m not convinced men and women are all that different when you check the bottom of the barrel.

  • WOW am I glad I will never work with or for you. From what you have written your lack of basic skills in human relations and lack of emotional intelligence is startling.

  • Seriously OP? GTFOHWTBS. Because you’re female founder who sucked at managing other women in 1 company, you extrapolate your 1 experience as empirical evidence for all female founders? Fer gawdsake, I’ve been in male-heavy and female-heavy teams and: negative traits like cattiness or bad management skills are found on both sexes. Just like positive traits are also found on both sides.

    Repeat after me: anecdotes do not equate to data. อ_อ

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