Shards from a shattered glass ceiling
A good friend of mine threw a baited hook into the electronic waves of Facebook recently—one I couldn't help but swallow along with the sinker. It was a link to a blog titled "How female leaders should handle double standards," which detailed the trials of female bosses who struggle with their image as leaders. The author asked, "What to do then in a world when image and perceptions matter and gender stereotypes remain firmly entrenched?"
Where's this writer living? I work with all kinds of team members who answer to men and women, and I can attest to the fact that those owners and managers endure the same hardships of leadership regardless of their sex. For any woman—or man, for that matter—to single out their leadership woes as attributable to their sex or sexuality isn't working in any veterinary practice I know of.
And if that crack doesn't get you firing off a couple of barbed tweets and Facebook posts, this will: If there are sex-based aspersions lobbed at female leaders in the veterinary workplace, they are not from the men in the building (if there are any)—they're from other women!Were I to tally up a list of derogatory comments made about female leaders rooted in the leader's sex, the majority would be attributed to other women. Any man that is using derogatory, sexual labels for a female leader is just as likely to belch out loud and pick at his underpants through his jeans. In both cases, the remarks aren't so much rooted in sexism as they are in poor manners, naivetÉ, and bad upbringing.
Female leaders need to stop rapping on a glass ceiling that was shattered years ago. Today's labor force is far too cash-strapped and weary to worry about any employer's sex. They just want a fair leader who demonstrates wise governance and concern for their well-being.
Struggling to become a "female leader" is a premise that begins with self-imposed limits. Instead, just invest 100 percent of your time in your leadership attributes—period. And damn the sexist torpedos fired in your direction. Most all of them are blanks anyway. Successful private veterinary practices—some of the small businesses that should be the backbone of this country—have little time for leaders so easily distracted by the comments coming from the galley.
Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is a partner at Halow Tassava Consulting in New York City, Indianapolis and Wyalusing, Pa.