Punk Rock HR Question: Catty Women


From a sincere woman who is fed up.

I work in a car dealership, a very male dominated industry, where women historically hold the jobs in accounting, reception and internet. I am a woman and a manager in the finance department, and work with all men in the finance and sales departments. It’s a position I work well in, not only because I do my job well, but because I don’t subscribe to the typical girly behavior and we all get along and have a fun time working together.

So the problem lies with my interactions with the woman-only accounting department and the women in reception and internet departments. They all seem to hate me and take every opportunity to “throw me under the bus,” talk behind my back, and give me unnecessary attitude whenever they can. I really try to maintain my composure and a clear head and not react to this negativity, but the pressure is mounting. It seems pretty clear to me that the negativity is coming from jealousy and/or envy from these other women. From their viewpoint, I’m sure it seems like I do a whole lot of nothing except hang out with the boys and joke around, and get paid well for it, while they hold hourly-wage positions that don’t leave a lot of room for fun. The truth is that they rarely, if ever, see the true contribution I make to the company. The sales department is either on or off, busy or bored, and we have to be available at all times for the customer whenever they may show up. We may not be constantly inputting data, counting receipts, or filing, but our presence at work is constantly required. And that’s what we get paid for too. If we’re working (selling cars) we’re getting paid, if not, we’re not. And we are paid well (respective to the current economic climate) for the risk of up or down sales that we take in our jobs.

Anyway, I’m in a situation where I am targeted, by people who are irrationally upset with me, for complaints and accusations that are unwarranted. Although I’d like to just ignore this behavior, I’m afraid that the growing resentment and rumors will spread to people who are just as irrational (our General Manager) and who react without ever attempting to get the whole story. It’s more of a guilty until proven innocent environment, if you’re even around long enough to defend yourself. I’d like to confront them, but I don’t want to start a war. Without reducing myself to the level of this kind of catty behavior, how should I deal with this kind of negativity around me?

Thank you for your continuing contribution to women in business.


  • Typical girly behavior?
  • Innocent until proven guilty?
  • Unwarranted accusations and complaints?

Your work environment sucks. Hardcore.

It’s safe to say that there’s a lack of leadership at your car dealership. Someone needs to be clear and call for an end to this catty behavior. Unfortunately, you’re not the one to provide that message. The people who need to deliver this message are the owners of the dealership and the general manager. This means that you have to get these men to see your point of view.

How do you do this? You appeal to the financial side of the business.

I’m reminded of the statement, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” If women are being catty, they have too much time on their hands and they think it’s okay to behave like this. They may also be aggrieved and taking out their frustrations on you because you’re a much easier target than the boss. Talk to the leadership team at your dealership and let them know that this catty behavior reflects an opportunity to do things differently. You can challenge these women to work harder and put them on more important projects; you can ask these women to form a task force to address morale and issues in the workforce; or you can simply start to eliminate headcount.

I’m a big fan of giving women (and men) meaningful work so they don’t have time to be bitchy.

What do you guys think?

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