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Today’s Quote: Is Being a Doormat the Only Other Choice?

Today’s Quote: Is Being a Doormat the Only Other Choice?

“Women have a very narrow path to walk; they risk coming across as a doormat or a bitch.” ~ Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University and author of the upcoming book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst.

In a recent article, “The Problem with Women Bosses,” Human Resource Executive Online explores a “prevalent double-standard in the American workplace,” i.e. that staffers are not willing to tolerate the same poor behavior from female supervisors that they would tolerate in male supervisors. The article cites Chicago-Kent College of Law assistant professor Felice Batlan’s forthcoming report based on a survey of 164 legal secretaries, which indicated most preferred working for male attorneys.

What about you guys? Do you prefer working male or female attorneys?
(Get your lucky doormat at Designer Doormats.)

5 Responses to Today’s Quote: Is Being a Doormat the Only Other Choice?

  1. That is a great read and made me stop to think about the women attorney's I have worked for.
    In my experience, the women I have worked for have been nightmares to deal with. They were demanding, selfish and would throw me under the bus so fast it would make your head spin.
    The article gave me pause that women as bosses are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
    Hopefully, one day, there won't be such a double standard.

  2. My, this topic is a bit fraught (for me at least). But I'll weigh in anyway 😉

    Personally, I do NOT prefer male supervising attorneys over female – if anything, I may have had a slight preference for women bosses in my career. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful, skilled, strong yet likable attorneys of both genders. I've also had my share of "difficult" bosses – again, of both genders.

    That said, I don't disagree with the premise that many people judge similar behavior more harshly in women than they do in men – I think that's probably true, and I find it quite unfortunate.

    I can't help but feel that at least some of the disparity between how men and women are perceived in the legal profession is due to the fact that even now, nationwide only 31% of all attorneys are women, and in private practice, women comprise only 19.2% of partners (according to a 2009 ABA Commission on Women in the Profession report I found on the ABA website). Thus, most legal staff are likely to have worked with many more male than female attorneys. It is my sincere hope that when women attorneys – and especially partners – catch up in numbers, perhaps these perceptions will balance out as well.

    Here's hoping!

    Thanks for a very thought provoking post, Lynne.

  3. PH (I can't believe I'm calling you that. A former supervising attorney used to call me that all the time. It stood for "Perfectionist from Hell" 😛 BTW, he was one of the best attorneys I ever worked for – a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

    Anyway, PH, sorry about your experiences with female bosses, but appreciate your sharing. It IS a tough double standard.

  4. Daphne, thanks so much for your thoughtful response – and for sharing the statistics regarding the number of female attorneys. It's funny, but I just thought about it and realized that most of our firm's summer clerks have been female. I know many of them have gone on to be awesome lawyers.

    But my favorite supervising attorneys, regardless of gender, have been those who are simply fair, ethical and hard-working – and who treat everyone in the office as equals.

  5. Although I am no longer a paralegal, I do recall when I was, male attorneys seem to be more prone to sexually harassing the staff – female attorneys just seemed frustrated if sexually harassed, but did little about it.


Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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