Emotionally unstable, hormonal, aggressive and ‘bitchy’ are just a few of the bumboclaat words that are sometimes hurled at women in leadership roles. In a 21st century world, there is still the stigma that women should be the tail and not the head. We are made to believe that women who are in charge are not feminine, because when you’re a leader you have to rule with an “iron fist”. In all honesty, this is true sometimes, only because women are expected to fail ten times more than men because they are viewed as the weaker sex so they have to work even hard to get things done, especially in a predominantly male workspace.

The bumboclaat irony is women are better in leadership roles but, the statistic will not show that. What

Paula Llewellyn. Jamaica’s first woman Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/opinion/the-power-and-plight-of-jamaican-women_189064

it will show is that according to an article written in The Leadership Quarterly titled “The road to the glass cliff: Differences in the perceived suitability of men and women for leadership positions in succeeding and failing organizations” by S. Alexander Haslam and Michelle K. Ryan “The glass cliff, this refers to the phenomenon whereby women are more likely than men to be appointed to leadership positions associated with increased risk of failure and criticism because these positions are more likely to involve management of organizational units that are in crisis” so not only are women not considered good enough from the jump, they are set up to fail.

Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica,s 1st female Prime Minister https://www.popsugar.com/love/photo-gallery/24357888/image/24358250/Portia-Simpson-Miller

The Leadership Quarterly also produced another article entitled “A bed of thorns: Female leaders and the self-reinforcing cycle of illegitimacy”. It speaks to the negativity that surrounds women in leadership roles and the stereotype that is placed on women in workplaces.

“When women hold powerful positions, they have a harder time than men eliciting respect and admiration (i.e., status) from subordinates. As a result, female power-holders are seen as less legitimate than male power-holders.”

To solidify my point about this bumboclaat issue, the article makes it clear that unless a woman makes her intentions and her position as a leader known, she will not be regarded as one.

“Unless they can legitimize their role, relative illegitimacy will prompt a variety of consequences such as more negative subordinate behavior and reduced cooperation when the leader is a woman. Subordinate rejection will likely put female leaders in a precarious mindset, and trigger negative responses toward subordinates; such behavior can confirm negative expectations of female leaders and further undermine female authority in a self-reinforcing cycle of illegitimacy”.

“Women play your role, you’re a bumboclaat housewife”.

Many would agree with such a statement as women are seen as the ones who should stay at home, cook, clean, and wash –  the typical role of the woman. One magazine gave five reasons why men are better leaders than women “Men are generally perceived as better leaders, even by women. If you ask someone to think of a leader, chances are they will think of a man. Historically, most of our leaders have been men, so both men and women tend to think men make better leaders.”

“Women are competitive with other women. Sometimes referred to as the queen-bee syndrome, there is some evidence that successful women undermine the success of other women due to a sense of competitiveness. In one study, women’s perception of their competence was boosted after they were able to malign a hypothetical female leader. The researchers suggest that this is because women tend to compare themselves with other women. Taking other women down a few notches may make some feel better by comparison. This type of competitiveness would also help explain why female leaders get lower ratings from female employees.”

Mia Mottley
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. Photo source: Loop Barbados News

Though society gives women a hard time when they are in leadership roles it is very clear that women are not ruffled by this, as we see even more women in leadership roles. Take for example Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, the Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, and Barbados who has a female Prime Minister, the Honourable Mia Mottley, and recently elected their first female President as a Republic, Dame Sandra Mason.

Women are stepping on necks with their stilettos or flats, whichever they prefer, and doing it with grace and style. Let us not look at the gender of the leader but rather the quality of the work that they can produce. Harvard Business Review puts it nicely, “instead of encouraging women to act like male leaders (many of whom are incompetent), we should be asking men in power to adopt some of the more effective leadership behaviours more commonly found in women. This would create a pool of better role models who could pave the way for both competent men and women to advance.

“Leggo the bumboclaat women dem shirt mek them gwan a road”.