The Patronization of Women….Even at the Top

Posted October 3, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Recently, we told you about “gaslighting” in work environments – people who say things like “you’re just too emotional” to make you feel bad and give in to their demands. And while we can all relate, it’s easy to think that at some point in your career, these kinds of issues will disappear. We’d all like to believe that Hillary Clinton, Cathie Black, Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg…are no longer patronized or gaslighted when they’ve reached “the top.”

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Patronizing happens to every woman at every level, and it’s happened recently. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, is one of the most powerful women on the planet, and recently opened up to tell The London Standard how she is still patronized, even in her current role.

Lagarde said the grilling she was given to secure the IMF role left her feeling “20 years old”. Her interrogators? Twenty-four men, of course.

So there you have it: no matter your age, status, or title, somewhere there will be a person who will make you feel small and insignificant. The trick is to be the kind of person who can deal with the criticism, accept your own strengths and weaknesses, and also recognize the difference between being patronized or gaslighted and receiving constructive criticism.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."