Woman Boss – Quote from Robber Bride (Margaret Atwood)

This is the story of Roz – the CEO of a woman’s magazine. She’s good with her money and she has some good insight as to what it means to be a woman boss.

Quote from “Robber Bride” from Margaret Atwood (p112)

“She checks her front teeth for lipstick in the rear-view mirror – well, these things count – and walks briskly, she hopes it looks briskly, into the reception area. Time to change the wall art in here, she’s tired of those stupid coloured squares, it looks like a tablecloth, though the thing cost a mint. A corporate tax write-off, fortunately. Canadian Art.

“Hi, Nicki,” she says to the receptionist. It’s important to remember their names. Roz has been known to print the names of new receptionists and secretaries on her wrist, in ballpoint ink, like a high school crib. If she were a man she could get away with a brief nod; but she’s not a man, and she knows a whole lot better than to try acting like one.

Nicki blinks at her and continues talking on the phone, and doesn’t smile, the stony-faced bimbette. Nicki won’t last long.

Merryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

It’s complicated, being a woman boss. Women don’t look at you and think Boss . They look at you and think Woman , as in Just another one , like me, and where does she get off? None of their sexy little tricks work on you, and none of yours work on them; big blue eyes are no advantage. If you forget their birthdays your name is mud, if you bawl them out they cry, they don’t even do it in the washroom the way they would for a man but right out where you can see them, they hang their hard-luck stories on you and expect sympathy, and just try getting a cup of coffee out of them. Lick your own stamps, lady . They’ll bring it all right, but it’ll be cold and also they’ll hate you forever. Who was your servant last year? she used to say to her own mother, once she was old enough to be defiant. Exactly.

Whereas the very same women would fetch and carry for a man boss, no question. Buy the wife’s birthday present, buy the mistress’s birthday present, make the coffee, bring his slippers in her mouth, overtime no problem. Is Roz being too negative? Could be. But she’s had some bad experiences. Maybe she handled it wrong. She was dumber then. Threw her weight around, a little professionalism around here! By now she knows that if you’re a woman and you hire women, you have to make them into girlfriends, into pals; you have to pretend you’re all equal, which is hard when you’re twice their age. Or else you have to baby them. You have to mother them, you have to take care of them. Roz has enough people in her life to mother already, and who is there to baby and mother and take care of her? Nobody.”

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