Posted by: christinamartin11 | March 27, 2014

A Woman’s Success Is A Man’s Distress

In my Forensic Psychology class I recently did an assignment where I had to do research on a school shooting. The school shooting I chose was the Montreal Massacre, which was a massive shooting that happened in 1989 at Ếcole Polytechnique (Stay with me here there is a connection to women and leadership). What I found interesting about this case was the reason behind why the attacker Marc Lépine chose to do such a heinous crime. Marc Lépine was on a mission to “fight feminism”. It was known that Lépine hated women. So upon entering the university Lépine told all of the men to leave the classroom. Once all the men were gone he told the women that he hated feminists. Although the women in the classroom were not feminists he still proceeded to shoot them all. All of the women who were victims of this massacre were engineering students. In Lepine’s suicide note he stated that women were taking away jobs from men and so women should be put in their place. Lépine always felt that women were inferior to men, but on a deeper level Lépine was intimidated by women.

Now what does the Montreal Massacre have to do with women in leadership? Besides, this event happened 25 years ago. Things have changed right? Well that we know of, there have not been men who have committed such a violent crime against women since. However, as women begin making their way up into higher leadership positions, there are men who feel inferior to women. It’s true! Men hate it when women succeed: Research by: Mike Bundrant is about a study that was conducted to test the hypothesis that men are intimidated by women’s success. Some of the results showed that when women were told they scored in the top percentile on an intelligence test, women reported an improvement in their self-esteem, while men reported feeling worse about themselves. This study showed that women tended to have a positive outlook when their partners would succeed, however men saw it as their relationship going downhill. As we all know, men have been known to be the breadwinners, the protectors, the job holders and that is how they viewed success. However, now there are an increasing number of female breadwinners and experts predict that this percentage will continue to increase, with female breadwinners tipping the scales to become the majority by 2025.

Having women in higher leadership roles is great. We have learned about a great array of women through interviews and course discussion who hold powerful leadership positions. I think I can speak for a lot of people in the class and say that these women are people we can look up to. I love that women are taking more opportunities and holding more leadership positions. On the other hand I believe that we should be empowering both men and women to be the best that they can be so that they both can be successful. So my question is how we can continue to empower women without making men feel inferior to women? How can we continue to push for women to obtain these high positions without having men feel worse about themselves and their abilities? I do not think that we will have another Lépine, however; if we don’t address this concern there may be many more men who feel a great distain towards women in power. If in the future the followers, or men, feel unattached to their women leaders or resentment towards them it could be detrimental for the organization and leadership as a whole.


  1. I was not aware of the Montreal Massacre until now. That is crazy! I agree with you in that I do not think there will be another Lépine, but we need to address this feeling that some men may have towards women in power positions.

    In class, we have discusses that gender should not be what is emphasized in the workplace. The emphasis needs to be on skills and ability. This post made me realize that although we believe the above statement, there are many people out there who do not. The fact that gender is emphasized so much, with women in particular, when advancing to a position such as CEO of a company goes against the focus of ability. It is great that women are climbing the ladder in the workforce and should continue, but when advertising such events, the women’s ability needs to be the highlight, not that she is a woman. I think this would help society get on the “same page” and alleviate some of the negative feelings coming from the male population.

  2. In response to your question of how to fix it, I believe the best solution is to start with the incoming generation. I know I say this a lot, but as a future teacher it has become my solution to many of these gender issues. It has been my experience that as people age, they become more stubborn about their opinions on various issues, including gender issues. The older generation of my family and in my home town refuses to accept anything other than the traditional male breadwinner and female homemaker family model. By extension, they continue to teach their children to be this way as well. (Even though my mom has worked my entire life, she has told me she only did it because she felt like she had no other choice. She would have been a stay at home mom if she had had the financial capability to do so.) Most of the boys from my high school are like this also and they would be very threatened if their wives had what they consider to be a higher position or a more powerful job than them. They would hate if their wives made more money than them. To them, women are supposed to be teachers, nurses, and secretaries, if they aren’t stay-at-home moms. I know this is generalizing, but I honestly cannot think of more than five boys from my high school that did not subscribe to this way of thinking.

    Due to the fact that they were already set in their ways on this issue by high school, I believe the best solution is to start teaching people from a young age. We need to stop teaching young boys that they must be the breadwinner of the family when they grow up. Every family is different and there is nothing wrong with the woman being the breadwinner and the man being a stay-at-home dad. Men who believe this is not an option, or that it is an embarrassing one, have been taught this by society. They are not born with an urge to be the main provider for their families. When I have children, I will teach them that they can do anything they want. I do not mean in the traditional “You can be president one day” kind of way. I mean that it is acceptable for a man to be a nurse, as it is acceptable for a woman to be a CEO. Their gender should not confine them to certain careers or lifestyles.

  3. In order to empower women without hinder men’s successes, I think that it is critical to have a level playing field in the workforce. I do not think women should receive special treatment of any kind merely due to their gender, and same with men. I think that if men and women both realize that they possess the same qualities and characteristics for a certain job, they will be more likely to successfully co-exist rather than feel overpowered by one another. I think that the biggest problem society faces today are the gender norms. Men should be the primary breadwinners of the family, men should have much larger-scale jobs than their wives, etc. I think that this assumption is skewed and completely unrealistic. So what if the wife is a judge and the husband is a stay at home dad? Gender should not play a role in anyone’s success, and I think it is important to stress that men and women should receive jobs, promotions, raises, etc. based on their expertise and good work, rather than the mere difference in chromosomes.

  4. This is an emotionally charged story and while it does paint a picture of the real world hatred and aversion some men have for women in the workforce and women in positions of power and influence, I think that it would be unwise to say that this statement applies to all men. In fact, there are other instances in which men are helping women lead the fight in equal hiring and collaboration across genders. I believe what this story does it add a complexity to the obstacles women face. It’s really a lot like racism. Racism in my opinion is the most vile position to take in life and it causes people to do unspeakable atrocities that they have justified in their minds. Sexism is very similar. While we have made strides to remove both from our society, there are still people that exist which allows discrimination to remain present. The truth is there are nasty vile people in this world who are afraid and intimidated by what they don’t know, and who hate based on the principal differences of skin or gender. These people should not be allowed to be a representation of the rest of society.

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