Searching for authenticity
But Gillard should take a look at a survey compiled by a UK website and covered by News.com.au that states that female bosses need to be "authentic" in the workplace. Now you, smart reader, would normally dismiss this type of survey as dross. For a start it is from the UK and carried out by a recruitment firm. It also makes some big claims that two thirds of women preferred a male boss because they were perceived as more "straight talking".
What is more, a quarter of women accused female bosses of backstabbing and bringing their personal lives into the office. And a third said women with power were loose cannons who often felt threatened by colleagues.
News.com.au then interviewed an editor from sister company Career One described as a workplace expert. Editor Kate Southam claims that female managers need to be aware of their "natural strengths and areas of improvement because they lack natural role models at work."
"You need to be authentic... you need to use your natural strengths."
It might be dross but this is the issue that has dogged Gillard and other female leaders. Be authentic, women keep being told. But what the hell does an authentic female leader look like? You act tough, you are not feminine. You yell? You are a shrew. You insist on high standards? You are not a nurturing caregiver.
I have heard all this before. As any clear thinking person will tell you, there are many incompetent, backstabbing male bosses in the workplace who never talk straight and are threatened by all and sundry. But what makes us focus in such a negative way on female bosses?
At times I have felt sorry for Gillard. Not only does she have to grapple with becoming Prime Minister, but she is our first female Prime Minister. That means we, as a nation, can hang all sorts of preconceived notions on her. We thought we were ready for a female Prime Minister, but with this sort of nonsense running on the front page of one of the biggest news sites in the country, maybe some sections of our community are not.
Everyone has been asking to see the real Julia. But maybe we are – and those among us that feel threatened by smart female leaders don't like it.