Well then, I guess I’m a bitch

by Erika Torres

banbossyA few weeks ago, there was a big push to #banbossy.

It was a social media feminist campaign led by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, urging the public to ban the word “bossy” because it is often only used in a derogatory manner toward little girls when they are displaying leadership characteristics.

As most feminist campaigns go, the men said nothing and the women started disagreeing because it seems we can just never agree on anything and get our panties in a bunch over anything that slightly offends us.

I didn’t really think anything of the campaign either way. While some people disagreed with banning bossy (affirm assertive, really??), in general I think the intent of the campaign was good.

To be honest, I’d never paid much attention to the whole feminist debate of how women are perceived differently than men in the work atmosphere.

Through my own career, I’ve pushed myself and excelled and I’ve never felt that my double-x chromosomes held me back.

In conversations at work, I never felt less than my male counterparts simply because I was a woman, and I’ve always felt respected and that my input was as equally valued as everyone else’s.

Bottom line: I never thought that I was seen any different than men simply because I had boobs.

Well, that all changed Saturday.

At our last session for my Negotiations Skills class for graduate school, I was part of a team and we were doing mock negotiations with another team. Each team had to try and score the best deal–as is often the case in negotiating.

Everything was going fine with the opposing team in our negotiations, until we were finalizing our deal and they reneged on an offer.

I had been pretty quiet throughout negotiations, letting a (male) team member do most of the talking for our group, but this new development was costing my team $125,000 (in fake money). Even though the entire deal was $8 million–the bargain shopper in me came out, and I wanted them to give me something else that equaled the $125k they had promised my team.

Suddenly, I became the “bad cop.” I refused to back down and simply wanted what they had promised us originally. The other team balked and one man looked at me with disdain and said “Are you really going to let this whole deal go over $125k?”

The deathly stare he gave me was enough to make anyone back down, but I didn’t.

I was smiling while I reiterated that they were the ones switching their original offer and so I wanted something in return, and this was their mistake– not mine.

This entire exchange lasted about five minutes or so with several cold silences that lasted long enough to make everyone feel uncomfortable, but eventually my team proposed a new deal, and their team conceded. In the end, my team scored the best deal out of all the teams, simply because I didn’t back down.

My hard-ball negotiation skills worked.

But I was made to feel like a complete bitch because of it.

The whole situation was very unsettling, and I drove home wondering: If I had been a man, would I have been seen as an a**, or simply assertive, confident, and leading?

I don’t know that I’ll ever really know the answer, but suddenly #banbossy made a lot of sense.

Have you ever felt that you’ve been treated differently
in the workplace because of your gender? 




Athena May 3, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Good job for not backing down and sticking to your guns when negotiating. Bitch? Nope. Assertive, yes. People need to learn the difference, can’t believe they were so rude!

http://www.pixempire.com/photo/nicolas-anelka-chelsea-premier-league.html May 3, 2014 - 2:07 am

Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design.
Wonderful choice of colors!

Are You Stressed? Read This! | Budget and the Beach May 2, 2014 - 7:13 am

[…] Erika from Newlyweds on a Budget:  Well then, I guess I’m a bitch […]

Marie April 30, 2014 - 9:12 pm

Good job on being firm on your decision! I had encountered before during my college days, there was only 3 girls and 20 boys in one of my subjects and they always made fun us, but I proved them wrong, every time we do have a recitation and exam I made sure that I’m always on the top.

Amy April 29, 2014 - 8:38 pm

One of the pages I follow on Facebook had posted some stuff about the “Ban Bossy” movement a while back. It’s not something I’ve personally experienced (working in education, it’s mostly women and no one is really vying to move up), however, I was disappointed to see that people were responding negatively toward it. The biggest argument was that there are better things to be fighting for so we shouldn’t waste our time with “bossy.” I disagree. Just because there are bigger fish to fry doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work on this, too. And social, economic, and political equality is kind of an important thing. I didn’t say anything in response because I don’t like getting into fights with strangers on facebook and because I didn’t want to be bossy! Haha!

BTW I love it when you talk about issues like this!

Bobby April 29, 2014 - 11:12 am

I would say that you did the right thing. It seems to me you have what it takes do be successful in the business world.

In negotiations there are no room for backing down, you went and got what you wanted (or was promised) from the deal,even if it was only a pretend scenario.

What if this was a real life situation and you decided to settle for less like the rest was willing to settle for? Maybe your boss would have called you in and asked you why you did not push for more, and that could have led to a situation where he might question your abilities.

If it was reality and you did get more, then your boss might have called you in and praised you and that could have taken you a step closer to promotion.

Maybe the people were surprised that it was a woman being assertive, I do not know. Maybe they would have thought a man to be an ass in the same situation.

In society you have leaders and followers, and you displayed the qualities of a leader in the situation.

Tonya@Budget & the Beach April 29, 2014 - 6:28 am

Good for you for not backing down. Oh yes I totally get it. I work in a male dominated field and often feel like “the bitch” because I’m standing my ground. But really I’m the only one that can make myself feel that way. I put that pressure and label on myself, so it’s something I need to work on.

Tanner April 29, 2014 - 3:51 am

I guess it makes a difference that you have not felt the doubleX chromosome affect you on your career… I have, and it’s quite annoying. I also felt that a lot at school, and yeah, I was considered a B a lot, because like you, I wasnt gonna let them get away with it (I love a good argument, despite the cause, especially in mock exercises). I am not one for feminist movements, but I do believe the different treatment is real and happens every day. I am not saying it is all bad, but that there IS a difference on how people treat you depending on your gender, which makes sense, because women are not men, and men are not women. I just wish people would stop making a big deal out of it. The problem is when people feel victimized by it, and when people intend to victimize others based on certain characteristics..

Debt and the Girl April 28, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Good for you for standing up for yourself/your team! (Hopefully that reflects well on your final grade?) I don’t know what I would have done in your situation – I’d like to think I would have done exactly what you did, but I can’t say for sure that I would have.
I like the original message behind the whole “ban bossy” campaign, but I hated watching it move away from that message and become just another thing to fight about.

Newlyweds on a Budget April 29, 2014 - 10:11 am

EXACTLY! It seems with every type of movement that’s designed to simply elevate women, is completely lost when we start bickering over semantics.

anna April 28, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Good for you for not backing down! I know it’s easier said than done (as I haven’t even accomplished this so who am I to talk), but I think as long as you believe that you were assertive and confident, that’s all that really matters. And at least now your class knows that you can play hard ball! 🙂

MomofTwoPreciousGirls April 28, 2014 - 4:41 pm

I have always felt this way, but it is very true in my industry (financial services) most high level roles in my very big (one of the biggest) company are held by older, white men. They have started a big focus on diversity, but I feel it is kind of a “we are doing this to look good” thing.

It was more fiercely felt when I became a mother. Most of the older white men in positions of power have stay at home wives that handle the kid stuff, so they have zero understanding of what kind of requirement of time children pose. I was in an office where men and women on the same level were treated differently. It was expected the women should be tied to their desk for 60 hours a week and the men could come and go as they pleased. Most days we could not get a hold of the male managers when their issues needed addressing. The women all came in early, stayed late and worked through lunch. All had laptops and blackberrys to be in touch, but when a woman had to work from home for a day for an ill child it was an issue.

Every day I have to make choices in my career and they have to all be made with the realization that while my kids are small I will have to stay a little lower on the corporate ladder.

eemusings April 28, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Go you!

I had never really experienced this at all but at my last job my awesome boss got reamed for being nothing more than being a confident person who won’t take BS – and disappointingly, by a fellow female staffer who I considered to be a like mind.

Chloe (Marriage & Money) April 28, 2014 - 1:45 pm

I struggle with this too, being assertive and standing your ground automatically gets a different response depending on if you’re a man or a woman. I’m hopeful that during our lifetime this will change, and that empowering women won’t be seen as a feminist issue, and that powerful women won’t be viewed as “bitches” or worse.

Good job for standing up for what you believe in, and for fighting for your deal – that’s what is going to get you ahead in the business world!

E.M. April 28, 2014 - 9:39 am

I think it’s great you didn’t back down. You were just going after what was originally agreed upon! I do think men have a tendency to think we’re being over-dramatic when we’re not. At my last job, there were three females that worked there out of fifteen employees. The men were pretty egotistical, and if we ever brought up a concern we had, we were belittled. It was our job to support the salesmen in order for money to be made, and they didn’t want to hear that we barely had enough time in the day. Meanwhile, if the salesmen had concerns, they were addressed immediately.

EP April 28, 2014 - 9:21 am

I was reading your blow for the useful info. But since you went full feminist I lost all respect for your. This is a first world problem and you are just trying to find excuses to complain and cry discrimination just like any other liberal group out there.

I’m sorry, you want to see real discrimination, look at women in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe. I’m tired of self-empowered feminists complaining and demanding.
Funny enough, they never complain about Selective Service or joining the army…

newlywedsonabudget April 28, 2014 - 10:14 am

It’s too bad you can’t seem to be understanding of people’s opinions other than your own. That’s how ignorance survives..

LBC Teacher April 28, 2014 - 11:01 am

Just because things are worse in other places doesn’t mean we’ve achieved equality here. That’s like someone in the 1950’s saying, “Well, black people used to be slaves, so now that they’re free and segregated, they shouldn’t complain.” Erika wasn’t commenting on those other places. She was talking about being a woman in the business world, where these things ARE issues.

SavvyFinancialLatina April 28, 2014 - 7:28 am

I never felt the whole man vs female biased until I started working at my current company. When you are outnumbered 5 to 1 and those men are very egotistical, suddenly you do feel this way. Women have to work 2x as hard to get half the recognition as men do in my company. It’s crazy…. So yes, I’m with Sheryl on so many of her thoughts.
Good for you for being assertive!

Shannon April 28, 2014 - 6:22 am

I’m so glad you stood your ground. I call people on their b-s all the time in my world and whatever, if they think I’m a bitch, so be it. I get stuff done. I think we as woman sometimes get too hung up on how people view us. Whether you call it assertive or bossy, what does it matter? I’m proud that people are intimidated by me. The world needs more strong woman like us! 🙂

Samantha April 28, 2014 - 5:31 am

I am an engineer and work with a lot of older military personnel and at ammunition plants. I don’t get viewed as a bitch but being assertive, but I’m in my late 20s and still get referred to as “hun” and “dear” quite a bit. I have to work extra hard to get the respect that my male colleagues are automatically given.


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