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How to Work in an Office Full of Women

Updated on April 24, 2017
davidlivermore profile image

David has over 10 years supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge in how to handle personnel issues across many areas.

It's hard for a man to work in a primarily female office.
It's hard for a man to work in a primarily female office. | Source
Working with women can take a lot out of you, but be just as rewarding.
Working with women can take a lot out of you, but be just as rewarding. | Source

Men or Women

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A Man in a Women's Office

For 15 years of my career, I worked in a primarily female staffed office. There were times I was the only male, and several of my co-workers were female. I also primarily had female supervisors. Lastly, as I became a supervisor, I supervised primarily female employees. It was rare to see another male in the office. Some only lasted a few years because they went on to another line of work, or just didn't like the job. It was rare the complaint was because of the women, even though you could tell some of them were uncomfortable with the fact that the office was dominated by women.

However, working with primarily women never bothered me. In fact, it has given me a lot of experience and insight in working with women. It's a unique experience that I haven't experienced in any other work environment.

This article is not meant to be sexist in any way. Men can cause just as many issues and problems as women. If you feel that some of these observation are wrong, then feel free to express what you think in the comments below.

However, rather than tiptoe around what people feel and think, I decided to come right out and say how it's like to work with primarily women. It's better to understand and work with one another, than use our differences to keep us apart.

I've always been comfortable working with women and I've had two happy marriages. Draw what conclusions you like from that.

— Vince Cable
Women will love you one second, then hate you the next.
Women will love you one second, then hate you the next. | Source
Be careful not to get on the bad side of a woman, you could live to regret it.
Be careful not to get on the bad side of a woman, you could live to regret it. | Source
Men and women sometimes don't see eye to eye with a lot of issues.  So a male has to be really careful of that in a female dominated office.
Men and women sometimes don't see eye to eye with a lot of issues. So a male has to be really careful of that in a female dominated office. | Source

How many females in your office?

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How to Work With Women

Working with women can be a simple and easy experience, as long as you know what to expect. Below are some tips on working in a office that is primarily staffed by women.

  • Love you one second, then hate you the next. While I see men coexist for the most part, women have a love/hate relationship with their co-workers. One moment they will act like your best friend, while the next moment they will avoid you at all costs. I have seen two female co-workers go from being friends to non-speaking enemies. It happens. Just give the woman time to cool off.
  • Be careful of office romances. Women tend to expose their feelings more during an office romance. They try to be discreet, but end up telling others. While the male can tend to deny the entire thing. Girls like to talk, so office romances will definitely be something to talk about. I strongly recommend avoiding them. If the relationship ends badly, you could find yourself in a difficult work environment.
  • Watch your eyes. When you are talking about a woman, look at their face, nowhere else. Obviously you can't help but to see certain parts of a female body, it's impossible to always divert your eyes. But at the very least respect them and try to make continuous eye contact. This will also help avoid sexual harassment claims.
  • That time of the month. Honestly, I haven't worked with any female co-workers that openly talk about this. I haven't been able to tell when it's their time of the month, despite working with them for years. They act normal either way. However, sometimes females will have female problems. They can't help talking about it, especially if they need assistance from another woman.
  • Women can be emotional. They also carry their personal problems into the office. They can cry, get upset, and let their personal lives affect what is going in the office. The same can be said for men, but women are a lot more transparent when it comes to that. Just try to be sympathetic to whatever their current problem is.
  • Women sometimes don't know how to react to a man in the office. I worked with one woman who didn't know how to handle me, strictly because I was male. She felt like she couldn't discuss certain topics around me, or she had to be careful with the things she did.
  • Be prepared to be "one of the girls". I constantly hear, "the ladies in the office" and other common sayings come from those who come into the office. Once they see me, they try to correct what they previously said. If you are a male in the office, expect to become one of the girls.
  • Women can offend easily. Watch what you say to a female co-worker. They can be offended easily. I have made neutral comments or even a casual joke, only to wind up being talked to by my boss because they took offense to it. So watch the words you say. Women will strain to hear what you say sometimes, just to see if it will be useful later.
  • Gossip, gossip, gossip. Men can gossip, but women do it so much more and cause so many more problems due to it. I have seen a simple statement get so twisted and convoluted, it's not even the truth by the time it circulates around the office. Be careful of everything you hear and don't fall prey to the gossip.
  • Women can be a lot more difficult than men. Between all of these issues, women can be much more difficult than men to handle. I was once told a story by my boss. In a previous job she worked at, she had to deal with a small handful of women, while dealing with a bunch of men. She had a lot more problems with just those few women than with the many men she had to work with.

I know this is mostly geared towards helping men, but some of these tips can apply to women as well. You may even see things that you could be doing yourself and find a way to fix them.

Supervising women can be much harder than just working with them.
Supervising women can be much harder than just working with them. | Source
Be careful how you address the clothing your employee is wearing, especially if you are male.
Be careful how you address the clothing your employee is wearing, especially if you are male. | Source
Sometimes a woman will cry in order to get out of trouble or some other problem.
Sometimes a woman will cry in order to get out of trouble or some other problem. | Source

Which Gender is Easier?

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How to Supervise Women

Supervising people, no matter the gender, can be very difficult. I've had to supervise women in multiple positions, and made some mistakes along the way. However, in time I learned how to effectively supervise women. Below are some suggestions when supervising women.

  • Be careful how you handle how a woman dresses. If your office has a dress code, but tactful when addressing it with an employee, especially if you are male. If it seems like you were gawking at the employee, then it can be considered sexual harassment, even if that's not the case. In some cases that I had to address how an employee dressed, I had a female supervisor handle it. It was much easier that way.
  • Be understanding of female issues. Sometimes females will miss work due to various womanly problems. Try to be understanding, especially if you are a male. I once wrote an employee up for missing too much work. However, I did not know this employee had suffered a miscarriage. I only found out after another female employee confronted me about it in the office, quite angrily in fact.
  • Women will use all available emotions against you. When I had to talk to a certain employee in the office, she tried a variety of emotions to get me to react. She would cry, get upset, yell, act defiant, etc. Men don't typically do that. They either accept the problem or get mad. I just learned to be stone faced when dealing with a disciplinary issue. It was the best way I could handle the situation.
  • Sexual harassment isn't an issue if you are smart. I have yet to have one female employee file a complaint against me for sexual harassment. I have a policy of not dating anyone at work. You should have the same policy.
  • Praise them at their work. For the most part, men come in, do their job, and go home. However, women like to receive praise for the work they do. One complaint I heard, always from women and not from the men, is that no one would receive praise. This is from people who just performed a standard job. But the praise does work in the case of a female.

Again, a lot of these points are for men. But a woman can take just as much of an advantage from these tips.

Comments

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    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 3 weeks ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Wow... this is a backwards way of thinking. While that is your personal opinion, it's not what this article is about. It's about how to coexist, not how women should be barefoot and pregnant at home.

    • profile image

      KeepWomanAtHome 3 weeks ago

      I work in a office mix with Woman and man, I have been sharing an Office with a Man and then 2 Woman. I can tell you that working with a Man is so much easier. They don't try to get your attention all the time and let you do your work. They don't sing song when they happy and cry and wine when they have a bit of work to do. They Mostly like to browse Facebook and text and make personal call during work. They lie about the work saying they are busy while reading ebooks. The mood changes often and there need to attention and to talk is the most annoying. If woman don't get your attention they will breath loud, wine, complaints, type very loud on keyboard try anything to show that they need someone to care about them. While Men are just trying to get their own work done and go home. Woman will take advantage of every situation to do as little as possible and leave work early take long lunch time and chat. Very difficult for Man to get any work done while sharing a space with a woman, did I mention the singing, then wining. Our ancestors were very clever to leave them at home.

    • LILYVYLE profile image

      LILY VY LE 4 weeks ago from Tokyo- Japan

      I am working in the place where most of the my co workers are women, only manager is man. I think it is not easy to work with woman (even though I am woman too) as well as to have real good relationship with them. I have to struggle how to work with them everyday.

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 3 months ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Thank you for understanding. My last job had me working in an office full of women and I enjoyed the experience. Instead of being scared to discuss topics, I feel they should be brought up openly so that both genders can understand one another in an office environment.

    • Martine Andersen profile image

      Martine Andersen 3 months ago from Norway

      Hey!

      I can see why people find this article sexist, but a lot of the points you mention are true. I work in a an all women-environment and it can be exhausting at times. I've had other bosses in the past (also women) and they tend to act like you described.

      A work environment should be equal in the sexes department, 50/50 men and women, that's coexisting. Yin needs yang, and vise versa. Loved the article.

    • profile image

      Art 8 months ago

      Decent article Dave

      But disagree with 'overly bonding with the women in the office'.

      Would a single man want to hear about tales of childbirth, menstrual cramps, or hot flashes? Of course not. It's important to be friendly, but also maintain your own boundaries.

    • profile image

      JC 12 months ago

      Lol. Well, I'm a man, and I WAS considering attending an interview for an administrative assistant at my job in two days. Not a promotion, lateral, but more cushy. I work out "in the field" and this job interview is for an office job. I spoke with a female co-worker that works every two weeks at that office and every two weeks in the field. She told me about all the drama etc. and she CAN NOT stand it. This article describes how she described her office. So this article is dead on. She's one of the lesser drama types, more straight forward and less emotional etc. I listened to her talk about it, but I had already applied. Mind you, this is an ALL female work environment with about 25+ women. They only seem to hire women too. I just came out of an interview for that office a month ago (an actual promotion though) and I didn't get it because they gave the job to two women that already work up there and just promoted them. Basically, I was perfect for them so they could "show" that they interviewed a male. But anyway.

      After reading this article and hearing from that female co-worker and other men here, I don't think I'll enjoy working there. Yes, it's more cushy, but I don't want to be stuck working like that. As a man, I already know I'm an easier target for EEO related issues.

      Side note: It is funny how many of the negative commenters here that trashed the author for this "sexist" article etc., also simultaneously agreed with what he wrote in the article. Smh. I commend the author for actually telling his truthful perspective. People are so sensitive these days. It's refleshing to read actual real life experiences without having to "cover-up" and tip toe around others as not to offend. He did it truthfully and with class. Nothing wrong with that. My hat is off to the author. Keep up the good work.

    • profile image

      James 15 months ago

      Thanks for the article, I am about to lose my mind working with the women in my office, they are certified emotional vampires and gold standard gossip gurus. I am going ask god to help me find another job. I mean really, I am just about ready to go to the psychologist.

      Unless your the author. women don't bother responding.

    • profile image

      Frankburt 16 months ago

      Hahaha! To Nick, dude, I can't even tell you how much you just described my work environment. I'm still trying to navigate this, but I think we need to have solid guy friendships outside of where we work. Also, it's very, very important to realize you are not the crazy one. Say it with me, Nick: I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE!! Let that be your mantra, my man. Suffering with you in solidarity - Frankburt

    • profile image

      Nick 20 months ago

      Im the only man with 5 women, and it can be rough at times. I try to be apart of things, and it's like I'm not there. When I just sit back and observe they're all concerned about what's wrong with me or why I'm being anti-social. I'm friends with them all so one at a time they're great, but together they just tend to gang up on me. I'm not an emotional guy at all, but when I bring the issues up, I'm either ignored or told to "man up" Then if I do that I'm the one being harsh or insensitive. I can't win. I feel like I'm in a relationship with all of them without any of the benefits. I get picked apart for everything I do, but if they do the same no one says a word. It's getting to the point where I feel like I need to quit, but career wise this is a good place for me to be. The job itself is my dream job, but the constant women's issues and critiquing everything about me just ask a girlfriend would do is driving me insane. Work wise I'm fine, it's just all the down time and the never ending girls hour.

    • profile image

      Colin 23 months ago

      Hello and thanks for the article. I work with and for 8 women, let me emphasize for them. My coworkers attitude toward me can turn on a dime. Presently i am struggling with micro management from them and need some techniques to handle it. Honestly i am thinking of departing my current employer because of this. Thanks.

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 2 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      "How do I keep a happy karma with my coworkers?"

      It doesn't matter the office environment, more than likely you won't. Someone will always be unhappy, sad, upset, etc. But as a supervisor you are expected to keep things under control and treat everyone fairly. If you do that, then you shouldn't have too many problems. At least problems that are not out of your control.

    • profile image

      Jason 2 years ago

      I think your article will help me out. I come from 17 years of manufacturing and just took a job at my family's business. I am the only man that works in the bottom part of the office. I work with 4 women. Three of them I have known for many years but one for only a few weeks. Although I know these people, I still have a hard time with second guessing myself on what to do and not to do. One of them is always stressed out and in a bad mood, one is negative, one is neutral and is kinda the office mom and one is perky and nothing ever gets her down. Then there is me, a 40 yr. old man that has worked with mostly men and in manufacturing. I was a printer now I work in an office BIG CHANGE for me to get used to. I am a cool guy that just wants to do the job and get home to the family. My stepdad hired me to get me out of manufacturing and 12hr word days. How do I keep a happy karma with my coworkers?

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 2 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Sometimes you don't get that choice. I sincerely hope you have never had a leadership role in any work organization.

      Please discontinue leaving comments in this article. They will just be deleted.

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      RD 2 years ago

      David,

      We're all entitled to our thoughts

      I find you and your beliefs pathetic.

      Most men in any field want to work with other men or a mixed group (mostly men and maybe 2-3 girls)

      Most women in any field, you get them all together, they will not shut up and can irritate the hell out of person (PMS, menopause, meaningless conversations they have). For a man to have to be subjected to this every day - it is poison.

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 2 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      And you just set back the human race about 100 years. Please don't breed.

    • profile image

      RD 2 years ago

      The guy who wrote this is an effeminate jackass

      Any "real man" who has two balls would never want to work in an office filled with all women

      Women in general are emotional vampires who lack common sense and reason. Why the f--- would a fella wanna associate openly if he was the only man in an all women office?

    • profile image

      Curtis Dowe 2 years ago

      I think I understand where you are trying to go with this article, as I too work with 5 women and know the dynamic. However I feel this article is somewhat sexist or your wording needs some tweeking. Woman are all very different types just like men, some are emotional some are not. Some get in volved in gossip, others don't. Each individual has their own attributes and I think you painted all women with the same brush in this article which makes it, in my opinion, lack a realistic view.

    • profile image

      Max 3 years ago

      David, thank you for the advise! I totally agree with you.

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 3 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Thank you. I'm glad you understand where I am coming from.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 3 years ago from New Jersey

      I think you did a good job here. I grew up at the height of women's lib, and don't think you said anything sexist. Women are mean, they gossip more and don't get over things as fast as men. They will have love/hate relationships, while guys will just get over it. Since women deal mostly with the children, even if they have a husband, the men don't do much more at home when the woman works. So schools have delayed openings, early dismissals, kids coming home sick, and women have to deal with all that. You seem to have a good grasp of that. At my age I have come to the conclusion men and women have differences, it's not a unisex world. And who would want one? We all have positive and negative traits which have nothing to so with sex.

    • davidlivermore profile image
      Author

      David Livermore 3 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      I have nothing against women, and have enjoyed my time working with women. I have years of experience in this, and is based on my own observations. It's not meant to be sexist or be full of stereotypes. Also, women, especially those who have been my supervisor, have made these comments as well about an office full of women.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      David - I am a retired human resources director who supervised men and women during my three-decade career. I'm also a woman. From both perspectives, I find this article sexist and full of stereotypes. It strikes me as your attempt to get some resentment off your chest.

      Sometimes it's better to write whatever helps you let off steam (therapeutic writing), and then...hit the DELETE button.

    • informationshelte profile image

      informationshelte 3 years ago

      Hi davidlivermore,

      Not many men would take the courage to express their thoughts honestly and publicly, when it comes to such a sensitive issue, as gender relations in the workplace are.

      Criticism can be perceived under a lot of personal angles, and I am sure, although there are not many comments to your article, the majority of female employees reading it would probably have negative or at least mixed feelings about it.

      However, your honest way of expressing your personal feelings and thoughts should be praised.

      As you have already stated in your post, you welcome any reverse criticism, and that would help so that the other side is heard.

      My personal verdict:

      It's a typical Yin and Yang case:

      everything and everyone has a bad side and good side.

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