Q. I was raised in a deeply patriarchal environment and grew up believing that men are superior to women. My boss at work is a woman who is relatively younger than I am, and I resent her for it. How do I shake off this stereotype because it is affecting how I relate with her?
Thank you for your question, you are speaking for a number of men who have struggled with similar challenges but have not been brave enough to speak up. I say this because being a woman, I have witnessed it in my career, and not just in Kenya, but in my interaction with global teams over the years.
Women can tell many tales of how they have been second guessed, their ideas paraphrased and their leadership doubted not just by men, but by their fellow women too, so yes, this is a matter that needs to be addressed more openly.
That said, despite all our perceived upbringing biases, there is one thing that every person is responsible for and cannot pass blame to anyone else whatsoever. Your attitude.
When your attitude is right, you will learn that what is valued at work is not your age or gender, but your productivity.
While you were unfortunately raised to think you are more superior for being a male, at the work place, such seniority is earned through hard work and mutual respect.
If you ever get there, be a good boss, fair and objective, treating all your staff, male or female, with dignity and respect. Patriarchal attitudes have no place at the workplace.
I have some questions for you. Assuming you have sisters, do you treat them differently because they are women? Do you think they should be respected at work? How would you feel if your mum is looked down on by her male colleagues just because she is a woman?
Do you acknowledge your wife’s qualities and potential and encourage her to succeed in her ventures or do you view her as an inferior being? Are you going to raise your daughter to be an empowered young woman or as inferior?
As you reflect on these questions, you will realise what your parents desired for you is not to feel superior and entitled and so look down on others, but be a loving son, brother, dad or husband who respects, loves and protects others.
There is a lot you can learn from your boss, but only if you change your attitude and respect her
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