Single Woman in the Workplace

For a long time, I was the youngest and the only single woman at my workplace. I am career minded and I constantly pray to God that the sky would indeed be my limit. While at work, I noticed that my seemingly young personality is appreciated by many of my male colleagues but not the women (especially the older, married women). For many months, a lot of women (not all) at my place of work were cruel to me even though I am diligent, and I manage to meet all deadlines (ok, most deadlines). I thought that I was giving all that was required of me in a professional environment.

Early this year, my boss walked into my office and found me screaming at a colleague; a married woman in her forties. I know what you’re thinking – that I am badly behaved… for screaming at a person who is much older than me! Well, I had had enough on that day so I exploded. I am a naturally calm person and a true lover of peace (even if I have to say so myself), so this was clearly an exception. My boss understood my stand point, he settled the misunderstanding between my colleague and I and till date, peace has been forced to reign at the office!

I tried to understand why these women disliked me. Why was it hard for me to get along with them as opposed to the men who were mostly friendly and professional at the same time? After several months of trying to find a suitable answer to my question, I couldn’t help but resolve that this hostility was a reaction to my youth, my wardrobe, and my freedom.

Before I decoded the cause of this cold war, I would suck up to the women who were cruel to me, and would even play dumb, hoping that if I continue to give them the opportunity to feel super relevant and superior in the scheme of things, I might make them happier and then they’ll find it easier to tolerate me. I carried on with this foolishness for a long while until one day when I took a long, hard look at myself. I found that my natural personality was disappearing and in its place, a very stupid girl was emerging (who my colleagues still didn’t like by the way). Of what use is good upbringing and education if it will be concealed each time someone feels threatened? I then resolved to go back to being myself and this has worked wonders!

It seems to me that many older women are threatened by younger single women. Shouldn’t they be happy? I presume that they have EVERYTHING already. I am yet to be married while they are. I have no children yet, but their homes are buzzing! Could it be that they miss the freedom that comes with single womanhood? Why did these women appear so jealous and spiteful? Why does it always appear that women hate each other? When I see girls younger than me, I tell myself that I have come a long way and I thank God for it. I’m grateful because now I’m better, and smarter, and a lot more WHOLE… and I keep getting better everyday. Why do they not feel this way when they see me?

I find it easier to work with men. Most times, the typical man just wants to get the job done while women will first take the time to let you know that you weren’t courteous enough or that your shirt is too tight. Women find it crucial to lay this unnecessary foundation before work can be done. Nevertheless, men are not completely without blame. Men that I have come across in the work place have sometimes been chauvinistic by accusing me of being “over-educated”, the sexual urges of men can sometimes constitute a problem, and their ego can be out of control! However, I still find that older women are more overbearing.

I am a woman, single and educated. I am career minded and I have what they call a “young personality”. This is my life for now and I have a duty to protect it from any form of abuse. If you ask me, I think I have done a great job so far and I don’t intend to quit now. I will continue to use this period of my single womanhood to enhance my career; now that I have all the time and freedom to do it.

Having learnt some of life’s lessons at my work place, I go into my office each working day, with my head up, determined to continue to work hard, to satisfy my employer and to earn a living. I am the young single woman in my work place today but I know that tomorrow will be inevitably different. In preparation for the future, I have made a vow to give regard and due respect to that young single woman who will be working next to me when I am married and much older, just as I appreciate both gestures from others today.

47 Comments on Single Woman in the Workplace
  • Dele Ekundayo June 8, 2010 at 7:38 am

    It is a well known fact (or as you will ultimately discover) that we (women) are our own worst enemies!

  • Dee June 8, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Thank you for an interesting piece. I experience this statement everyday
    “why does it always appear that women hate each other”. It is not an appearance it is
    the truth and it baffles me as to why we cannot lift each other up. Thanks for
    not being dumb anymore, be yourself and don’t let people walk all over you.

    It is easier to work with men, hormones and many other issues come in the way
    with women. But yes I know men have thier issues, no lie.

  • Rosie June 8, 2010 at 7:45 am

    quite true. most women can be overbearing and difficult to work with. but why
    are we like that? Hmmm….nice piece! No one can take ‘you’ away from ‘you’
    unless you let them!

  • Swtheart June 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I have never worked with a woman or have a woman boss before, cz of my profession (engr) . but i have 2 male colleagues who is working with a woman and they are really enjoying it…. I dont think it is all women.. or maybe its woman-woman as the writer said…

  • Patricia Ejim June 8, 2010 at 8:49 am

    woman to man there’s no wahala,but once you are a single,good looking and well dressed girl? u re in Bbbbbbbig trouble! i ve worked with them and still is,the only way i get along with them is greeting them as older ones.

  • Aibee June 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I feel you Ejire though I haven’t directly experienced the Woman Hating
    Syndrome. I work in a place where the only married people are the Partners and the Support Staff. The core of the ‘earners are all single people so we get to support ourselves through toastings, first dates, heart breaks etc. We support ourselves- Male & Female. Some of friends dont have it so good in their own offices. The skirts are either too tight or the make up too loud or the shirts too tight; something is always wrong. The married women always have something to complain about the single women. Maybe they are trying to protect the men from us ‘female vampires on the prowl’ lol.
    Either way, we single women will enjoy our single status, have fulfilling carriers, get married and have fulfilling marriages. All who agree say AMEN.

  • ndy June 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

    d most interesting resolution u hv made is not to treat the younger ones dat will work under u withork under u with such hatred, meanwhile continue to be urself . .. … o gari

  • abi gidi June 8, 2010 at 9:53 am

    :-) I am married , beautiful with 2 daughters and I dont have problems with single girls in my workplace or anywhere else. What I find though is that ‘younger girls’ have a badddddd attitude. Check yourselves.

  • abi gidi June 8, 2010 at 9:55 am

    some younger girls not all :)-

  • joy June 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I work with many older single moms but theystil have the same attitude…its scary! and i hve tried to be myself, tried the being dumb atitude but still it hsn’t worked, i has is days thogh i hve to admit its not al the time

  • vanessa June 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

    @aibee–AMENNNNNNN

  • Debo Ade June 8, 2010 at 10:48 am

    never had a female boss though i have colleagues who complain about their married female bosses, which is pretty strange because i see the way my mum relates with those under her… I also see the way other married women in my office relate with others… but in all i have come to discover that we women are our own ENEMIES. Our HR @ work is a perfect example. someone had to call her once and told her to look @ other married women with more responsibilities and they are level headed and not “warring” with the single ladies in the office…. May God help us

  • Alero June 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

    women are truely their worst enemies.Most women will not want to be friendly or interact freely with another woman who she is not familair with;whereas on d side of the male folks,they really dont care.I think it has to do with inferiority complex on the part of such women.A woman who is confident in her person will not feel threatened by another woman under any circumstance.We women bother a lot about trivials:Hair,nails,what designers shirt is she wearing??is her hand bag a designers?and as such we are quick to size another lady up immediately she walks into a room & if she is more fashionably dressed,envy sets in.

  • Labby June 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Interesting piece of work! I say no matter what, do not let anybody (older colleagues) walk over you, always always be yourself …as long as you try to be courteous to everyone at ur workplace, shikena!

  • bibs June 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    they are jealous of us single young and beautiful lifes. Most married women live miserable lifes – they wish they werent even married to whom they are married to – they are only fulfilled by their kids. They miss their freedom and sleeping in late :lol: I feel sorry for them – no one told u to rush and go with your timing – You coulda waited for Gods time.

  • sarah June 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    maybe your attitude stinks! i mean for everyone to be out to get you at the office? u need to check your attitude how you relate with people. you cant jump to the conclusion older women in your office dislike you and are jealous. am assuming you are in naija right? it might be im western educated guru attitude you portray that irritates them not the fact that you are young.

  • me June 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    am a young girl and working i find this same problem with the other ladies (single thi time)
    am not yet in school though but am a head of a deptat work, most at times the other ladies say lots of things about me. Am not bother because i try to be my best every day. and i know where am going to to.

  • Eno June 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Interesting article.
    @ Aibee – Amen @ that.
    To Ejire, its a pity you have to work with people with bad attitude (notice i said people, ‘cos some guys are assholes to work with).

    I’ve worked with women for all of my (short, but interesting) careerlife, and i have been blessed not to experience this “Women Hating Syndrome” as Aibee calls it. I’ve certainly heard of it and i think its just sad & unnecessary.

    There are some folks you cannot satisfy. It has got more to do with them, and not you. I’m glad you’ve resolved to be yourself and hold your head high. They didnt pay your school fees. They dont feed you, nor clothe you. Most importantly, they are not your salvation.

    As Rihanna (Riha’nne, for the Ibo’s) and TI said “live your life”

  • Moi June 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    @bibs, you sound kind of malicious; worry no more you’d getter married someday. You’ve simply assumed that all married women rushed into it and didn’t wait for God’s time, shey? On that you are so wrong!

  • brow sugah June 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Imagine your self as a “Single Black Female” working in a predominantly white company, there no acting naija there oh. Either you resolve to act dumb and stupid or you just give everybody space. Cos as soon as you try to be your self, You automatically have an attitude. You become the stereo type “the angry black woman”. i tell you there is no winning.

  • Tokunbo June 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    My dear, just hold on and get married first before you pass any judgement on
    anyone. While some women can be overbearing, your generalization is bad. It is
    not out of place to wish you were once again a young lady, free of responsibilities
    but it doesn’t have to lead to a malicious tendency in a workplace. I am married and
    I am a mother, but I don’t feel intimidated by any young single girl either at work
    or elsewhere. I’ve tasted both sides of the coin, so I believe I am better equipped
    than one who has not started at all. Focus on your work and dont develop notions
    that will negatively affect your notion of the married, because hopefully one day
    you’ll get there. Best of luck.

  • Molicious June 8, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Sweetie, it’s everywhere oh, work, church, parties, it’s almost like it’s a sin to be single. Yes I know we’re in an age where morals have declined but please enough with the stereotype and hate, some of us singles ladies are decent and are just trying to live our lives.

  • Yup! June 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Hey Bibs,

    Whilst you are still single, I suggest you get an education or take a few English classes. Whilst your married counterparts are acting out their frustrations, it may be a good idea for you to learn how to spell ‘lives’. And oh, you may want to try some hormone therapy, it might just make things that little bit better.
    :) :)

  • Susan M June 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Girl,

    You are so right. Many of these so called married women are miserable. You look at them and think they have everything, while they look at you thinking the same. The grass is always greener on the other side. What you stated above was done to me by my own older sister and female African American female boss. It’s all jealousy. In my sister’s case I was too young to understand, even when my mum told me truth. Be rest assured that God doesn’t like ugly, he says vengeance is mine and pays them back fully for their deeds. I have seen it happen to both of them. I am not like that and would never do that to anyone. I even encourage, mentor and nurture females I’m older than that I know. Keep your head up girl, and go on about your business.

  • Temi June 8, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Could we just quit this older woman versus younger woman bickering already. We’re only exemplifying the very things we are complaining about! It’s got less to do with age and more to do with perceptions and preconceived notions. I know because I’m not yet married, have worked with 7 female bosses in across 4 companies 10 years, and have studied each of them. Once you get that the initial terrain-marking (that is common to the entire female species) the you may find yourself with a very mature and close confidante. Somebody more experienced than you in life and who is actually quite happy to work with you…

  • Temi June 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    So many typos above sigh! Bella, please fix your comments box so we can see what we’re typing properly. Thanks :)

  • Nicole June 9, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Amen Dele! We truly are own worst enemies. When it’s not “Who does she think she is?” or “Someone must have told her she looked good,” it’s something else. It’s that thing about human nature that sometimes makes us feel like the only way we can tolerate that someone that dares to be whoever or whatever she chooses, is by grinding them down to a size we feel we can manage or one that at least satisfies our own egos. To Ejire, as you’ve said, you cannot berate yourself in order to develop any relationship worth having. As long as you are doing your job effectively and you try to be respectful, nothing else left. In some workplaces, there would be those who would say that maybe you are not a “good fit” for that workplace environment, particularly if it is one where substantial team work is required, an unfair accusation when you have players who are doing their best to exclude you no matter how you try to be that group player. Good luck!

  • THE AMAKA June 9, 2010 at 3:14 am

    wonderful read! i really enjoyed it!
    as the saying goes: women would rule the world if they didnt hate each other. and i think thats true. too much jealousy among women.

  • CHIZO June 9, 2010 at 7:29 am

    in this case i beg to differ from the author ,i have worked with older women and men before and have found the experience of working with the women to be excellent in every respect.The men on the other hand i have had issues with.In some cases because there is the belief that women in competition with each other taints the working relationship before it even begins,It becomes an almost self fulfilling prophesy.

  • kay June 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

    AMEN! @ aibee…that said my experience has been different o, in d 3 different places i’ve worked i’ve had more women baby me than take offence wit me…cos i tend to be d youngest n i’m rather playful, so u can try that…but in the 25% cases wen i’ve had ice queens trying to dull my day, i just dust em off my shoulders n turn my face to the cheerful people…Join me baby…it works! As D’banj puts it…’my head too strong for them o…’

  • mia June 9, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I am married with kids, I still get the look and the hate, I think its all down to how you dress, most women expect you to wear baggy clothes and look ugly et all, if you don’t then you’re a whore and then you get all the hating etc.

    I am free to dress the way I want provided my hubby loves it, I really don’t care if people like or hate me provided we get the job done.

    They should ask for fashion tips if they need some, lol

  • Ezi June 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Temi, I agree with you. This is where all the women to women bickering starts from, sides are formed and a cold war keeps brewing amongst us and the men just look at us laugh at our pettiness.
    Ejire, try to have a bit more of Kay’s philiosophy of life. There will always be the good, the bad and the ugly. We are not in the position to generalize – we can have terrible older women as colleagues and we can also have terrible older men as colleagues. Enjoy the good experiences and dust off the bad experiences.

  • Ezi June 9, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Eeesh, so many typos..sorry guys. Bella, I think this site needs a preview window before our comments are actually posted.

  • Ndwan June 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve just gone through this article and all the comments.
    This experience from the writer is oh so familiar. I suffered the same fate and more from a female boss for almost 10 years. Even after I got married, the “meanness”continued but in a subtle way. I had other managers asking me whether I “chased” her husband. Other colleagues suggested it might be my jewelry, the way I dress and my level of confidence. I actually had a male colleague suggest that when I speak to her, I put my head down in a humble manner and play dumb sometimes. I really feel you. Now I’ve been married awhile, I don’t seem to see single girls that way. I actually prefer working with smart and confident ladies whether married or single. I think older married women should just learn to treat their fellow womankind as professional colleagues in the workplace and stop trying to play big aunitie or mom. Whether one greets you or not should be irrelevant. We’re all there to earn a salary not necesarily create an extention of family there.Lets also be careful not to do the same thing to other younger ladies when we become the older married women!

  • igwe June 10, 2010 at 3:14 am

    Maybe if you could get out of your super self absorbed bubble they would like you more. What the men think is meaningless, they probably all want to sleep with you anyway. But if people who don’t have anything to gain from you don’t like you then theres a problem

  • poloma June 10, 2010 at 5:08 am

    I think sometimes the married ones just naturally think that we single women are not serious, we are kukuma the types of girls that snatch their husbands and they conclude that; since we don’t have kids and husbands to cook for so, how can we be responsible. I also think it has to do with the generational gap, I found that the married women who looked down at me and my single colleagues where those that were much older than us and did not grow up in the same space and time we did.

    Personally my boss was mean to me, I don’t know if it was due to the fact that I was “one of those single girls in the office”. I would see her eye me every time i wore something new. Whenever another single colleague came into my office, you’d see her lurk around looking at us with her evil pair of eyes. There was a day i wore a pair of shoes and the sticker was still under the sole of the shoe, as I walked past her, she said with disdain “why did you leave the sticker, do you want everyone to know you are wearing a new shoes”. My first instinct was to say “your staring hard at me with bif probably made you notice a small sticker all the way under my shoe”…but I smiled at her and said “thank you, I will remove it right away”. It was not only my boss, the apola wearing shoe crew (older married folks) always had something to say about one of us.

    Once you are not married in Naija you are still treated like a child. You find out that once your cousin that is your age mate or even younger gets married she gets treated differently, its like there is this new found respect for her…at family functions she gets to seat and gist with the “adults”. I just wish people will stop seeing marriage as the highest achievement a woman can ever attain. Not all married people are happy and not all single people are happy but everyone should stand by decision and stop trying to tear others down.

  • poloma June 10, 2010 at 5:11 am

    @ Mia, i concur…i think it has to do with how you dress

  • Anita June 10, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I agree with you completly. In my whole life women has be very wicked, resentful, spiteful and maliciuos to me. from my mother to my aunt, older sister and even women in my church that i have to agree that we live in a world that women hate women. when you interract with them, they words are full of angers in order to reduce you as a person.(my older sisters to be exact) It took me time to understand this bacouse i see why this has to happed it’s comepletly senceless and uninmaginable for a fellow woman to reduce a woman just like her. I think we were soppose to like and get along with each other for us to appriciate ourselves the more by doing so we learn from ourselves. i am in my late twenties and i have never have female friends cus of the difficulties to get along with them. so choose to live my life just with my husband and my children with that alone am please. i do appriciate younger girls when ever i come across them cos they remind me of my younger time. so to some women out there who hate for no reasone stop it and appriciate yourself the more. channel what ever fustrate you to some more meaningful. hating one another will not change things.

  • Ms Sassy eyes June 10, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I do not think it has anything to do with age or marital status. I just think it boils down to upbringing, personality, biological make up and the society at large. There is a weird competition that seems to go on between women and this behavior is as old as man (I think). We are generally the softer and more emotional sex and tend to feel numerous unexplainable conflicting emotions (which the opposite sex constantly point out in trepidation and wonder).

    Knowing the person you are and having a solid hold and confidence in that person goes a long way to curb these behaviors. We are a strong sex and sometimes I wish a man could feel what we feel just for a day. Whether we like it or not, we all have a bit of the ‘bitch’ in us. It is how we handle it that matters.

  • RMG June 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    my dear,you just spoke my words exactly.i’m also single and i am the youngest in the entire office.i have my female colleagues constantly starring at me,they’ve also said all sorts of nasty things and are still plotting.Worst is my boss dotes on me.I sincerely try to dress decently and in a way that would not compromise my faith, i practically do all the work.i’m originally in IT but i go as far as Business development,accounting,and being his personal assistant!I’m the first to come and the last to leave the office,i try my best to do my job,and professionally too.to make it worst,i travel abroad,now that’s the killer(they wouldn’t remember that i’m the only one working but when it comes for travel time,everyone wants to go) Now i’m not insinuating that i’m perfect at all, but to the best of my ability,even outsiders commend my work.what i don’t understand is why my colleagues would choose to tarnish my image,despite the fact that i try my best not to have any problem with them (even though i had an episode with a female colleague once on the official car that i drive). My conclusion is that they can not just stand a beautiful,strong, sexy,best of all smart woman and i’m generalising now,better still,they wish they could turn back the hands of time if given the chance to make things right.The things they weren’t able to accomplish is probably what you’re doing now….and it hurts(ouch!)
    I’ve been told that if someone is jealous of you,that person simply wants to be you,so enjoy my dear,carry on and never loose focus,especially with tose sexually hungry men(it happens in every office)

  • Afribabe June 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    really hate wen dez older married african ladiz walk 2 me nd address me of wat am wearin or how much i party or da type of friendz i heng out wid, list goes on..waten cum be their own, its not like they my parents or family related. i know they just jealous kuz the way their husband luk at young girlz..if ur husband is cheatin on u wid a yung girl just leave his ass, dont cum up 2 me nd address me wen u dont even know me..dis is y we yung girlz gat no respect for thez kind of women nd they gat da nerves to tell us we are disrespectful… rubbish

  • Moi June 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’vw come to realise that being single, female and career minded is a threat to most people that are not, male and female together. I decided recently not to mind those who were not adding to me in anyway and focus on the parts of the job that make our paths cross. I’m an only female in the business gropup of a male dominated financial services firm. It mattered to me before, but now I couldn’t care less! I’m here for what i can get, anyone who doesn’t like the quality of what I get should get out of my way, cos I’m not gonna stop to see if you got hurt while I was breezing past u! lol!

  • tamiz June 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    You can say this cos you’re young and have moved up the ladder faster than these women at their age…

    What’s the big deal anyway… we’ve got loads of young professionals

    (me inclusive) so its no new thing having other older female hate on you… its just nat

    natural…. trust me u will do same if u were in their shoes…

  • LONSCO June 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I have been lucky with bosses which consist of both men and women. i must however admit that women are usually finicky and petty and are quite emotional compared to men. Furthermore, women find it difficult to seperate work from home life and its attendant challenges. For this reason, one may struggle with female bosses. I feel that wisdom and God’s guidance is needed to deal with female bosses. i have been working with a female boss for 6 months and i have learnt to understand her and we get along just fine. She is sometimes erratic and has gone off the deep end once or twice but i have learnt to operate with wisdom and it has saved me from a lot of headache and unecessary issues. i feel that the key to a sucessful working relationship with a female boss is lots of prayer, patience and above all, erase all expectations. it has worked wonders for me and i hope it will for you too.

  • Nezed July 21, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Story of My life… But who really cares what ‘em old scraggy folks think or say?
    I personally think its a Woman-woman battle…Single or Married, we don’t like o!urselves!

  • Tiki December 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    It’s as old as time itself-women would rather hate than love each other!this syndrome is so true …I’m in my mid-twenties, and though I havn’t experienced this at work(where we are only four women as opposed to 19 men in my department!), I experience it everywhere else in life, ex-student meetings, church, et al. Older married women are always picking on younger single ones; If you don’t dress up-’why can she not take better care of herself?’, if you dress up, buy a new car, build a house, it’s ‘who does she think she is?she is trying to do things which surpass her age, she is too proud, she is sleeping with someone’s husband…’ etc. sadly this is infecting even the younger girls who get married before their mates!ur best friend in school, who wore shorter skirts than u in Uni, suddenly starts ‘advising’ u (more like patronising u!) on late nights, ur clothes, male friends, etc! Ladies, we have enough problems being female, as it is – do we really need to create more?let’s support each other istead of tearing each other down!
    All in all, nice piece, Ejire…

  • M.G June 6, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Please stay strong! I hate reading on “female hate on women.” It happens so often in the workplace. We should really work with each other instead of against one another.

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