Women on Men

How three strong women survived male insecurities in the workplace

Ashlan Gorse

She walks into the room in her 4-inch heels, blonde hair cascading over her shoulders. You can make out the curves of her hourglass shape in the dress she’s wearing. She smiles your way. You know what she is thinking ... SEX!

Actually, what you didn’t realize is she’s a confident, smart and caring woman who went to a top university. Her outfit is a simple and chic dress, but you have never cared enough about women’s fashion to know this. Her shoes are just the ones she wears to make herself happy, not to impress a man. That “sex smile” you thought you saw? She was just being polite. 

Some males (not all) look at women like me and assume we are “dumb blondes.” I’m 6 feet tall, am very feminine and have a head of blond ambition. But please don’t assume I am an airhead ... or actually, please do! When men expect women like me to be pushovers, it puts the power in our court.

In my line of work, as a reporter, I walk out of interviews with just what I walked in for — a scoop. The guy who thinks I’m clueless has no idea why he spilled his deep secrets to me, and why I’m now getting the story he thought he’d never tell. I’m not manipulative, but it’s easy to disarm a man when he underestimates a woman’s intelligence. Guys, never assume that cup size and beauty have any effect on brain function.

Bottom line … give a girl a chance before making any assumptions. An educated woman can better your life in a number of ways. Just don’t try to sleep with her. She’s too smart for that.

Ashlan Gorse is an on-air correspondent for E! News.

Corri Fetman

Though I hate to admit it, male insecurity in the workplace has been a dominant theme throughout my legal career. Like many strong women today, I play by my own rules, think outside the box, exude confidence, possess the intelligence of education, and am considered attractive. These characteristics seem to unnerve self-doubting men. As such, the encounters have either been like oil and water … or a gasoline and fire explosion.

I have encountered two major insecure personality types among men. The first type I have labeled the “Master Manipulator,” the guy who pretends to be your buddy and tries to learn as much about you as possible only to use it against you. The second type is the “Overly Authoritative Control Freak.” Insecure people in positions of power tend to compensate for their lack of confidence by taking out their frustrations on their subordinates. Since they feel threatened by secure women (and men), they try to cope by squashing them, launching an offensive, or continuously demeaning and denigrating the individual. 

Males are taught at an early age to be aggressive in order to retain stature. What any male needs to understand is that a dominant, secure female can be the best and most loyal asset to an organization if treated with respect and recognized for her efforts. If you mistreat her, then you have just made a formidable competitor and she will do everything in her power to overshadow you in business.

I am grateful to all the people I have encountered who have underestimated me. Not only did they make me tougher, but their conduct was the driving force behind opening my own law firm.

Corri Fetman is a Chicago-based divorce lawyer.

Laura Ashley-JOhnson

A percentage of men are insecure about women entering a segment of business they traditionally dominate for a few reasons. One is the fear this could change the natural balance between men and women while decreasing the traditional role of men in this setting. There’s also the insecurity that a woman may earn more than them. Ultimately, the relationship between men and women in the workplace depends on whether the men have integrity and self-esteem, or whether they are insecure and arrogant.

A man who is insecure feels the need to never allow a woman to know too much or hold a position of leadership. An insecure man will do what it takes to hold a threatening person down. That feeling of losing control intensifies when it comes to the opposite sex. Men can also be jealous of the “beauty power” that allows women to get certain things based on their physical assets. Perhaps it’s less likely that women use their beauty, and more likely that men have that perception because they judge them based on their physical appearance.

When a successful man is confident, he is usually proud to work with a woman who has self-confidence, an independent mindset and a willingness to take risks.

The rule successful leaders must remember is: the thing you hate the most in yourself, is also the thing you hate the most in others. Joining together is a beginning. Working through prejudice and understanding insecurity is progress. Working together is success!

Laura Ashley-Johnson is a model/MC and television host.