Work's Bad Girls

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The authors report that a third of the women with whom they spoke said they would prefer a male boss. They warn women managers that "female employees who unconsciously live by the Power Dead-Even Rule will be offended by the very behavior in which you, their leader, need to engage to accomplish your goals." At the same time, don't just give up. Says Murphy: "Women come up to us all the time and say things like, 'Who does she think she is telling me what to do?' And we say, 'Well, she's your boss.'"

Heim and Murphy embarked on their research "to understand why women behaved as they did in order to help them find a way out of this destructive behavior." In consulting and lecturing to about 50,000 people a year at more than 100 corporations and agencies, the authors kept encountering the same complaints.

Needless to say, health administrator Leavell is equally convinced that women must look squarely at this issue. She began her current job with new resolve and immediately held a "retreat" at her home for her 10 female managers. She told them about her unhappy experience and invited their own tales. "It's almost like we're unconscious about it," she says. "It's there--women will say, 'It happens all the time.'" It just might be time to stop focusing on getting even and spend more time working together to get ahead.

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