As has become my habit, I was listening to The Bert Show today. It’s a morning show on the radio, and one of the topics discussed concerned female attitudes in the workplace. Specifically, the crew debated whether women needed to be narcissistic and aggressive in order to thrive in their chosen professions. Some callers said “yes,” insisting only supreme bitches can claim leadership of the pack in a number of professions. Hearing them describe representative examples of the breed called to mind a woman I knew from the years working at my old law firm, Schwartz Meisner.
I can’t deny that many law firms still remain bastions of the old boys’ network. For a woman simply to make partner, she often has to act more aggressively than the male attorneys with whom she competes. That seemed the case at Schwartz Meisner too, at least back in the day when I toiled there.
“Sally” fit the definition of an egotistic and antagonistic bitch to a tee. While consistently projecting an air of arrogant self-confidence, she engaged in shameless self-promotion, often at the expense of others. She also demonstrated a certain ruthlessness in her behavior. Indeed, if she believed stabbing a female counterpart in the back could aid her climb up the corporate ladder, she’d twist the knife without a second thought.
I witnessed Sally’s Machiavellian maneuverings on a number of occasions. Though I had to admire her drive to succeed, I also wondered whether such extreme conduct was truly necessary, male-dominated law firm or not. Sure, a female attorney might need to ruffle a few feathers to get ahead. But Sally wasn’t a lawyer; and I found it difficult to imagine how far even the greatest of ball busters could advance … among the mailroom’s personnel.