“Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women” is a satirical take on something we all experience
Navigating the corporate world is still, for some reason, kinda tough for us ladies — just ask any woman who shares office space with any man. Despite it being 20-fucking-17, study after study still shows that sexism is alive and well in the workplace.
Luckily, ladies, there’s a handy guide that will show you all the strategies you need to combat some common instances of corporate sexism. A collection of comics, written and drawn by Sarah Cooper, a former office worker and now comedian, offers nine “non-threatening” ways women can adjust their leadership tactics so they don’t make the men around them feel like that lady in the cubicle next door might actually be just as good at her job as they are at theirs.
Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian and creator of TheCooperReview.com. Her first book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings is out now. And while you’re waiting for her book to arrive, plenty of her hilarious work is on her website, including these comics.
As Cooper writes on her website, “In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive or competent. One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the (sometimes) fragile male ego.”
The comics may be satirical, but it’s their truth that makes them so damn funny.
“I came up with the situations from my own experience, as well as stories I’ve heard from friends and coworkers,” Cooper told Bustle. “I think this resonates because these situations — like minimizing your ideas, or being overly polite in emails — are things we all deal with.”
But even though they’re so hilarious, they weren’t easy for Cooper to write, in part because of their truth.
“Just the other day I overheard a woman asking a question by prefacing it with ‘Sorry for my ignorance here…’ and it made me cringe,” she said. “I struggled writing this because I didn’t want it to seem like I was making fun of women — I’m making fun of the fact that we shouldn’t have to change the way we talk or behave to seem less threatening.”
While, ideally, women shouldn’t be worried about coming across as bossy or aggressive or, I don’t know, qualified in the workplace, it’s still something that happens. Cooper says that whether consciously or unconsciously, even she still struggles with changing her behavior to make herself more palatable to the fragile male egos she encounters.
“Unfortunately though, I was (and still am) guilty of doing this,” she said.
So for all of us working women, Cooper’s comics can serve as a guide for all the things we definitely shouldn’t do at work, because we should unapologetically kick ass at our jobs, regardless of what anyone else, male or otherwise, thinks about it. But, when all else fails, Cooper does offer one catchall strategy for avoiding that pesky sexism: