Scolded so that your hair blows…

by Therese Johansson

Have you ever been scolded at work so that your hair blows? Not so cocky in a new role, I represented a rather thin organization in a management group, at a high level. In other words, I didn't feel stiff, I wasn't well known and my network wasn't intact. My incredibly charismatic and dynamic leader, who had handpicked me for this position, wanted to see results even before I landed in the chair. After a few months, you may feel the sense of impatience beginning to tingle.

We have the entire management team, about 10 of us, and it was my turn to report my non-exciting success factor. We can say that the measure was perfect. The scolding I got was with BIG vowels, as I had nothing to say I sat and took it until embarrassingly I couldn't hold back the tears. Now you might think that my leader is calming down. She didn't, but the high tones kept coming until she felt she was done.

Was this the first and only time that I had to receive a rude scolding in my international career - No is the answer. For the reason that I was not treated as a woman, but as a RESOURCE. That is, the gloves were no softer for me than for my male colleagues in the corresponding positions. For this, I am incredibly grateful to every single leader from whom I had the privilege of being taught, because it made me grow and develop further.

I get really annoyed at the way we talk about equality, only from the perspective of women. I felt treated more equally internationally than in Sweden. I do not want special treatment because I am a woman such as quota for position, I want a position because I am hand-picked on my skills.

Me and a male acquaintance who is the leader of a large organization in an industry where men are more representative than women, generally talk about being exposed to sexual invitations, statements, comments, etc.

I talked about how tired I can get of responding to comments that indicate sexual invitations and the difficulty of responding to these, when it's not a joke but an attempt to be rude. My male acquaintance counters by saying that he finds it very sad to be exposed himself. He says that he does an incredibly good job of promoting women to senior positions, which is the company's goal. This sometimes means that he has to face accusations that he appointed specific women for the reason that he has an unprofessional agenda for them. A serious allegation without substance.

Is this something we discuss in forums, do we address the men's perspective? Are we working on issues that make life easier for men, or is it just us women who are the vulnerable poor victims?

If this discussion is going to be interesting for me, I really want us to discuss gender equality and equality in a broader and from a more egalitarian perspective. I am convinced that the gap between men and women can be bridged by mutual respect for each other's reality. We create this through good and developed leadership.

I had full trust and confidence in my charismatic and dynamic leader, he did everything for me to succeed in my mission - that meant "tough love".