She could be from anywhere. In her case, she works in high-tech. She’s sharp as a tack. She sees things the guys do not see. They quietly ignore her. She does not give in. They pay a bit more attention. She’s a bit frustrated, but she keeps smiling. She knows that if she tells them they’re a bunch of insensitive males who overstate the firm’s bargaining power with customers, she will be rejected as weak. And so she bobs and weaves in macho land, day after day.
The sad thing is she’s right and they’re wrong. The firm’s power is still strong, but has eroded. With her feminine sensitivity, she sees that in every meeting. She’s in a good position for that. She’s the account manager for one of the largest customers of the firm. She knows what she’s dealing with. They coach her from behind, because they’re more senior than she is. They tell her how to leverage the firm’s position for advantage and be tough. She’s a soldier in another nation’s army.
She’s on her second career. She did well in the first and rose to executive rank once already. But she had cancer and had to stop working for a while. She restarted at the bottom and is working her way up again. But she’s not any younger. She knows she’s under-utilized and wants to do more. She has a million ideas for collaboration, people she’d like to go see, new joint programs she’d like to initiate with partners. She was born for co-creation.
But then there are all these guys who look at the world in this strange left-brained way, searching for killer algorithms within the walls of the firm, rather than seeking to engage the firm’s customers in new opportunities. Because she’s afraid of looking soft, she too speaks of business intelligence, clickstreams and support assets, rather than co-creation initiatives. She envisions a collaborative ecosystem, but they’re thinking dominance. She believes in people, but they want systems. Her organization has an increasing number of women in power, so herein lies hope for her. Perhaps women who’ve done well will reach out to her, although she’s not sure how strong women’s solidarity truly is. After all, women executives have their own battle to wage.
The guys drink a bit less than in the TV series Mad Men and the sexual harassment has become a bit less blatant. As for the rest, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.