Women Breaking Down at Work

My girlfriend recently told me that one of her female colleagues quit her job in her probation period, after less than one month. Apparently, she went out in a less than classy way, sitting in her cubicle and suffering through a “nervous breakdown” and shedding a copious amount of tears. I don’t intend to mock that poor woman. Yet, I could not help but think back at the years I have been spending in the corporate world. Not once have I seen a guy breaking down. I have certainly met my fair share of incompetent dickheads of the male persuasion. They may not have been cut out for the job, but they “took it like a man” when that was the case. Wait, that was not entirely correct. I once had the displeasure of working with an incredibly effeminate but non-gay man who threw a tantrum in a meeting once. I’d say those are extreme outliers, but with testosterone levels dropping in the West, we may encounter more of that in the future.

With women who couldn’t perform at work, this normally played out a lot differently than when men suffer that fate. When women can’t take it, they don’t just resign and leave. No, instead they want some more attention. The absolute worst I ever experienced was some chick crying at her desk, which drew all the other hens towards her who comforted her for hours. It was a welcome excuse to spend most of the day not working, I presume. Another popular move is to sabotage others. They can’t do the work, but they seem to think that they will keep their job if they throw someone else under the bus. I don’t have the impression that bosses and HR are as strict with women as they are with men. However, this means that a woman who can’t perform at work only has to keep up appearances, and her problem will be solved for her by others. Most commonly, the solution is to promote her to middle management. The most incompetent woman I ever came across was promoted to management basically straight out of university, after having been hired into an engineering role at BigCorp. She couldn’t perform on her job at all, and instead of letting her go during the probation period, she was made manager four months in. The company in question is one of the largest in the world who can seemingly afford that — until they can’t.

The underlying problem seems to be that women just can’t deal with stress very well. Some possibly can, but most cannot. It’s as if they completely shut down once there is a bit of time pressure or if there are more rigid standards than she may have been exposed to in high school or at university. The solution to that problem is to de-stress their work life. They just take copious amounts of sick days, a cool two-hour lunch break, and head home early. Often have I thought that any guy pulling bullshit like that would find himself out on his ass by the end of the week. That is not the case if you’re a diversity hire who needs to be coddled. The price, though, is that nobody will take them seriously, so better don’t get too envious when you come across them. Of course, I am not talking about “all women”, but there are a lot more women like that than men.

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11 thoughts on “Women Breaking Down at Work

  1. Testosterone is one of the main reasons men function better under stress. Women also make a little testosterone in their adrenal gland. But this is only enough to give them focus for about two minutes in a emergency situation. This will help her escape danger. After two minutes she will run out of testosterone and break down. This is also part of her defence mechanism. By crying she will trigger a hormonal response in men that makes them more empathetic. And more likely to either become less hostile or even come to her defence. Men have much more testosterone because they need to fight the danger. They need to uphold their focus much longer. So their testosterone production will sky rocket in a emergency situation. Making them more assertive and more focused. And more likely to jump on the problem instead of trying to escape it. Women are simply not designed to function under stress like men are. They are designed to convince others to solve the problem, gain sympathy and mobilise the tribe in her defence.

  2. The post is focused on women at work. But what do you think about that proverbial piece of “wisdom” that states “women can be active while sick, whereas men are demolished by a simple cold”?

    Personally, my take is this: I have never seen a young, unmarried woman with no children being a “rock” during a sickness. I have seen mothers being that, though. So it’s a case of motherhood, not womanhood, that brings out an extra resilience to take care of her children. OTOH, men might be more rational in following through a doctor’s instruction of resting.

    1. Manuel S: Women use 90% of all healthcare. And by working while sick they only infect others at work. And recovery takes longer. So is it really a benefit? Being present and being productive are also different things. On top of that, it’s mostly men who do the dangerous and hard labour jobs? A sick man is a liability when hunting. Best for him to just rest a few days and guard the village. A woman would already be at her tribes village most days. This might explain why we evolved differently. A man running and hunting or doing hard labour is not likely to recover soon. Taking some days off would be best in those cases.

    2. I don’t believe this is true at all. The number of sick days I have seen women taking at work is absolutely mind-blowing. Also, when it comes to mothers, there is probably one who physically abuses her kids for every single one who is a “rock”, which should balance things out nicely.

    3. @ben: good points as always.

      @aaron: you’ve raised an interesting point worth discussing in an open thread: corporal punishment for children. It’s a practice that transcends gender and, in LatAm, it’s widespread and produces both healthy and damaged adults… or so it seems. What is your stance?

    4. @ Manuel S:

      “and produces both healthy and damaged adults”

      I promise you that no kid who got a regular beating grows up to be a healthy adult. This statement is simply false.
      Love and violence originating from the same person leads to a conflict unresolvable to the child.

    5. @neutral: OK, let me rephrase that a little, because I made the original statement too simple.

      When I spoke about “both healthy and damaged adults” I didn’t mean people who got “regular beatings” as kids, which I take to mean that the kid wound up bruised and swollen at least every week or something like that (I don’t even think I personally know on of those).

      I rather meant boys and girls who *occasionally* got hit with a belt, a flip flop (the “chancleta”), an electrical cord, etc., or the buttslaps, when they did something really bad (like fighting with the siblings, breaking something in the house that would cost a lot of money to replace, etc.).

    6. @Manuel S:
      How incompetent do you deem a child if the only way it understands that “breaking something expensive = bad” is by causing it to feel physical pain?
      If the parents can’t get the message across any other way, maybe it’s them who are incompetent.
      Your big leverage as a parent on your child is not the fact that you are physically at an advantage, but that instinctivly the child knows its dependency on you and that it loves you because it has to.
      Think about that for a while.

      Also fighting with siblings – where’s the problem? There should be fights and conflict. That’s normal. The parents have the responsability to care for the quality of the way the conflict is fought out, not try to shut it down.
      Of course “I understand you want this and he wants that, and now let’s look at a way other than hitting each other how you two can find a solution” is much harder to say and and act upon than “stop fighting or else xyz”.

    7. @Manuel S:
      Also, this here:

      “the kid wound up bruised and swollen at least every week or something like that (I don’t even think I personally know on of those).

      I rather meant boys and girls who *occasionally* ”

      You seem to have a scale in place where there’s a progression of violence which both in terms of intensity or frequency is OK at some point and then, as both increase, it stops being OK.

      I have a different point of view. My tolerance to physical violence against kids is zero.
      The only exception when you need to apply physical force against their will is when you need to get them out of a dangerous situation like getting them off the street they try to cross with cars everywhere. Once you got it away, be enraged, shout, make the kid understand that it should listen to you, whatever… But ensure it understands why you are pissed but don’t ever hit it.

      Because, you know, once it learns that beating is an option for the parents it will learn to resist/run away. And having a kid resisting from being taken off the street, even running further into the traffic is the last thing you want to have.

    8. @Neutral: thanks for the thorough response. I’ll try to answer you in the Open Thread when I have the time.

  3. Women breaking down at work is a good thing. That means she’s being given the weight of it all. She’s crushed under the weight of life. If she didn’t won’t a very big life, she probably wouldn’t need that shit job to begin with.

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