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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Cell C's CEO comes under fire for radio show comments; Clinton plays the woman card; Intel discusses diversity backlash; and more.


Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!


  • The CEO of South African wireless operator C Cell, José dos Santos, is coming under well-deserved fire after comments he made on a radio show, including that, first, hiring gorgeous women will help men present themselves better at work and, most cringe-worthy, that women have a "bitch switch" that can get flipped in the workplace. He said, "They just have a different way of managing, they have a different way of engaging meetings and engaging with parties and it creates a different dynamic. If I can use the term on your radio station, women do have a bitch switch and, boy, if you see two women fighting, it's worse than two men having an argument." Not helping out your fellow telcos there, dos Santos!

  • In more news about "things that aren't real about women," Donald Trump this week accused Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton of getting votes based solely on the "woman card," a comment that his senior advisor followed up by saying that those women who vote for Clinton must not be using their brains. Clinton's team responded by making woman cards an actual thing for her supporters that donate to her campaign. No word yet on whether Trump will follow up with his own "sexist cards."

  • It's commonly said that men tend to be bolder than women in business, but a new study from leadership consultancy Zenger/Folkman suggests that women may actually be the bold ones, especially in those career functions that are the most male dominated. The firm created a "boldness index" to analyze its database of 75,000 leaders and found that women, on average, ranked in the 52nd percentile of boldness, while men came in 49th percentile. Sales functions had the highest bold scores, while engineering was lowest -- and women outscored men in every category. Women in the under-30 age group also tended to rate higher on the boldness index.

  • While Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is largely lauded for its wide-scale diversity and inclusion efforts, they have been met with some resistance -- and even some threats from the inside, according to CEO Brian Krzanich. Speaking at a conference recently, Krzanich said that, "People worry that as a white man, you're kind of under siege to a certain extent. And, he added, "there's been a bit of resistance. We've even had a few threats and things like that on some of our leadership team around our position on diversity and inclusion." His response to these "threats" has been to explain to his employees that all of Intel's efforts are around inclusion of everyone rather than exclusion of any other demographic. (See Intel Closed the Gender Pay Gap in 2015 and Intel Hired 43% Women, Minorities in 2015.)

  • While some studies have found that younger women tend to ask for -- and get -- more money in entry-level jobs, a new one from the Economic Policy Institute suggests the pay gap is actually getting worse for this group. Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79% as large as those of their male peers, a decline from last year when the equivalent figure was 84%. From 1990 to 2000, women age 21 to 24 with college degrees earned 92% of their male peers. The study did not, however, break down what industries these recent graduates were entering. (See WiCipedia: Young Women, Verizon Strikers Demand More.)

    — Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

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    Kelsey Ziser 5/3/2016 | 2:37:23 PM
    Re: use your words, people! I agree, Mitch, there's that fine line between assertive and aggressive behavior and both men and women have that switch where assertive crosses over into aggressive. I think we'd be having a different conversation if dos Santos had used those terms instead of resorting to name calling with the phrase "bitch switch."
    Mitch Wagner 5/3/2016 | 1:16:14 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Jeremy11x - He didn't say "some women" had a bitch switch. He said women had it. I read that as all women. 

    I say it's a switch that both women and men possess. 
    TeleWRTRLiz 5/3/2016 | 10:23:19 AM
    Re: use your words, people! The "women are more sensitive" and "men don't let things bother them so much" is a stereoptype. It really depends on the person and the situation. Angela Merkel, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Thatcher, Martha Stewart and Marissa Mayer are/were pretty strong peeps in my mind, and there are men who are sensitive who perhaps do let things bother them. Think about Boehner crying during the Pope's speech for example. 
    Jeremy11x 4/29/2016 | 5:20:49 PM
    Re: use your words, people! RE: "Men often get away with it just as they get away with acting certain ways that a woman would get called out for."

    Sarah, men do not "get away with it" more than women.  Only because there are more male leaders do you hear about it more.   On a proportional basis, it's closer to even.  Women are also much more sensitive to any confrontation and would be more likely to complain about that kind of treatment, whereas a male would not let it bother him so much.
    Jeremy11x 4/29/2016 | 5:11:16 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Mitch, you're right.. there are many men who would prefer to work with or for some women, for a variety of reasons.   I've worked for several different women that I'd be glad to work with again if given the opportunity.  Of course there are both good and bad men and women as leaders.   For anyone to deny that some women can have a 'bitch switch' is crazy though.
    Jeremy11x 4/29/2016 | 5:06:09 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Sarah, you're twisting his words.  He didn't call anyone a bitch.   You're also confusing an assertive woman with a bitch.  I don't know why you can't seem to differentiate them, they are quite different.   There are MANY, MANY respectable assertive women in the workplace who I would never consider "being a bitch".  But there are some, which might include you, who think the only way to get things done is by activating their own 'bitch switch'.
    Sarah Thomas 4/29/2016 | 4:07:14 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Ha, lovely imagery, Mitch! But I would agree -- treating people like individuals rather than genders helps and is much more accurate anyway.
    Sarah Thomas 4/29/2016 | 4:05:01 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Thanks for weighing in, Yui! I'm glad the Internet didn't let this CEO get away with his "bitch-switch" comment too much, but I agree it's unfortunate that it's still a common way to describe assertive women. Men often get away with it just as they get away with acting certain ways that a woman would get called out for. 
    Mitch Wagner 4/29/2016 | 4:00:56 PM
    Re: use your words, people! I remember talking with a man who'd rather work for women. He had an earthy observation about women being less likely to get into a swinging contest with a certain organ, because they do not possess it. 

    I've worked for a lot of bosses over the years, and don't see any particular correlation between gender and overall quality. Worked for a couple of terrible women bosses, and a couple of great ones. Same for men. 
    YuiLNamiki 4/29/2016 | 3:58:30 PM
    Re: use your words, people! Sarah, I completely agree with you! It's unfortunate that men can "get away" with using derogatory terms while women are striving for equality each and every day. I really enjoy working for and with female leaders, they have such unique perspectives and I have so much respect for them. 
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