Posted by: sarahkinsey13 | March 28, 2018

10 Commandments For Women in Leadership???? O_O

Throughout this semester whether it be online research for our class or for personal inquiries regarding the topic of women in leadership, Google, on multiple occasions, provided me with a result linked to an article by the global media company, Forbes, titled, “10 Commandments for Women in Leadership.” After previously ignoring the article for a variety of reasons, and furthering my knowledge of ways to be successful as a woman leader, not holding any expectations, I decided to read what they believed the solution to be. The author is a renowned author and businesswoman who has dedicated herself to studying women executives while being an executive leader herself. She believes, and explicitly states in the article that the reason women are falling short of achieving those leadership position is, “largely because they fail to understand the rules of behavior, the style of communication and the mode of relationships necessary to succeed.” In attempt to share her experience and knowledge of triumph as well as other women she gathered information from she put together the 10 Commandments for Women in Leadership on the ways to be successful. They are as follows:

  1. Hard work and excellence are important, but they are not enough
  2. Network
  3. Prioritize
  4. Choose your battles
  5. Speak up
  6. Dress well
  7. Use silence
  8. Do what you say you’re going to do
  9. Stay positive
  10. Don’t sleep with your boss

While reading through these, almost all of these relate directly back to information we learned throughout the semester. In regards to tempered radicalism, we learned to network and have alliances, choose our battles to know when you can obtain those small wins, and although we may not have specifically categorized all the other ideas, we have touched on them… except one. The last commandment… “Don’t sleep with your boss.”

After reading, I found myself questioning the author’s reasons for including this as one of the commandments when there are many others she could have put in place of it. Was it to add a sense of humor or is there sincere legitimacy to this? The idea of “Sleeping your way to the top” is projected immensely in the media on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Empire. In regards to the media, it adds drama to the plot line and is intriguing to the audience, but what about in real life??? Obviously it has happened in our world and is an prominent enough for her to include it, but why?

While thinking about this, I realized that throughout this class we have focussed around the idea of how to retract ourselves from societal stereotypes. As women we try to separate ourselves from the label of being “soft” or the stereotype of always having to put family first etc… There is another stereotype that resides within the workforce and that is women who make it to the top receive their positions by “bedding the boss.” To many people say that if women use their bodies, they are not only explicitly sexualizing themselves inappropriately in the the professional environment, but are also perpetuating the stereotype and they will never be taken seriously in the leadership role.

After all this has been said… one must consider different questions and alternative perspectives to this frowned upon idea. What you do with your body is your choice; why should others dictate what you should or shouldn’t do? What if their boss is their actual soulmate? Although the intent is not to gain any power will others believe it was and condemn her if she obtains higher authority? There is a substantial need to get women more represented in hierarchical positions but they are seldom given the opportunity. If more women slept with their boss, the more female promotions, the more women those individuals will hire, the more represented women could be in the field? To many of you, this idea probably seems preposterous and most women will not admit that they approve of this action, but many women are still getting involved. 

I apologize for the provocative topic, but I was completely taken back by this final commandment and figured I would address it with you all. What do you think? Why shouldn’t women sleep with their boss to get ahead ooooorrrrrr why should they? What repercussions either positive or negative do you associate with it? How will it affect them in their leadership role?


  1. It’s an interesting point. A lot of the things we read about in class make me wonder if it’s best to confront stereotypes or act according to your own gut regardless of others perception. This example is one of those. Is it more empowering for women to always work their way to the top with persistence and gritting their teeth so that no one can ever infer that they slept their way to the top or because of affirmative action. However, it would also be empowering for women to own their own bodies and sleep with who they want to sleep with regardless of others’ judgement.

    I think the intent of why they’re sleeping with their boss is important and if they choose to sleep with the boss they have to understand the consequences that people may undermine or dismiss your power and blame it all on this one action. I disagree that we should encourage women to sleep with their bosses to get promotions and work to bring other women up that way since I think it undermines women’s abilities and suggests that the only reason women are in power is because of their body and their sexuality is their sole contribution they bring to a company. It’s a difficult subject since I am very pro-sexuality and allowing women to do what they want as long as they are being safe, but I think women just need to think through consequences and make the decision for themselves.

  2. It is interesting to think about this in a serious manner since this does sound like a type tv show drama reality topic. I agree that it may help the individual but it doesn’t help in the way it confirms a stereotype. I cant help but wonder what industries does this happen more in and why? I know finding this info is borderline impossible, but something to think about. I think about how our what we heard about in last class where individuals(males) who are under-qualified get the opportunity for a higher up position. This is like the flip side where females may be getting an unfair advantage to other individuals, even females, where a more qualified person deserves the job but an under-qualified female gets it by not playing by the rules. Interesting topic! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I don’t think think a woman should sleep with their boss to get ahead because I don’t think anyone should be promoted because they are sleeping with their superior. A good leader is able to differentiate work and personal life. Often, if the two words mix, things get out of hand (I often think of the episode from Seinfeld where George doesn’t want his girlfriend to meet his friends). In this sense, nobody should ever sleep with a coworker because it forever complicates and intertwines the work and personal life. Things get sticky, and the workplace is often the first to suffer.

    On a different note, people should be promoted for their hard work and achievements. A promotion should be awarded to someone who will help better the organization as a whole. Additionally, if rumors spread that someone gained a leadership role because they slept with the boss, all followers would lose respect for the leader and organization. This would hurt office morale, create tension, and cause workers to think that unprofessional behavior is acceptable.

  4. I think this article brings up a point a controversy in the women’s movement in general. It seems like women are under the microscope even more now that we have seen the revival of the women’s movement. This means that stories of women sleeping with their superiors can be even more damaging, because everyone is paying attention now. Actions like these undermine the entire message and goal of the women’s movement, which is to show that women are just as capable as men and should be treated as such. When women sleep with their superiors, or “cheat” the system in some way, it makes it look like women are not as capable as men because they have to cheat in order to get promoted. On the other hand, another part of the women’s movement is to advocate for the freedom for women to do as they please, especially with their bodies. Under this branch of the feminist movement, women should be able to sleep with their bosses, because it’s their body and their own decision.

    This seems to demonstrate how women today have to find the balance between asserting their independence and their freedom, while also realizing that everyone is watching women trying to climb the ladder into leadership positions, so their actions may reflect on all women and undermine the work that women are doing to try to even the leadership playing field.

  5. Women absolutely have a right to their bodies and should be able to sleep with whomever they want. However, imagine if the roles were reversed: what if a man was sleeping with his female superior to gain a promotion? This would seem tactless and unprofessional. I don’ think that women should use their sexuality to gain prestige. On the other hand, I think this is a rather outdated and sensationalized notion. Women typically don’t sleep with their bosses to get a promotion, even if the media likes to portray this overblown narrative. Rather, I feel that bosses frequently pressure women into sleeping with them to gain status or promotions. Take into consideration the situation going on with Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump, for instance: a man in power using this power to intimidate and pressure a woman into sleeping with him. Therefore, I think it’s pretty uninformed of the Forbes author to put “don’t sleep with your boss” as the tenth commandment, as it doesn’t apply to just women and is more a story used for fictional movies instead of real-life workplaces.

  6. Though I think you bring up an interesting point, I do not think that women (or anyone for that matter) should sleep with their superiors in order to gain power within a company. Going off of Lise’s point, any time you mix sex/emotions with a professional environment, things can get messy. Once two individuals become physically involved, it is often difficult for them to separate their personally and professional lives. At the end of the day, this doesn’t help anyone – it just creates an workplace environment of unfair advantage, distrust, and gossip.

    If we encourage people to sleep with their bosses in order to get ahead, we would be undermining the idea that moving up in a company should come from hard work, dedication, and commitment. To me, the idea of having sex with someone in order to be promoted seems like taking the easy way out. There has got to be another way to push for more female representation than to support the idea that the only thing that women are good for is their bodies. Yes, women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, but if we start handing out promotions in exchange for sex, that becomes a very dangerous expectation that individuals have when they enter their careers.

  7. I have never heard of these ten commandments that women leaders should live by. It is somewhat shocking to me that someone felt the need to create this, especially since it was made specifically for women and not men. However, that being said, I do understand why many of these commandments were chosen.
    I agree that it is essential for people to prioritize when they have a leadership position, but that goes for both genders, not just women. Men should be able to prioritize as well. I also agree that women need to create a secure network and to remain positive. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, it is sometimes difficult for women to get certain jobs. If a woman knew people that already work at the firm/company that she is applying for, it could increase her chances of getting hired. It would definitely help her more than it would hurt her. It is also crucial for women to remain positive. There will be times when women have to deal with setbacks. They will be pushed around and taken advantage of. Our class speaker explained her experiences to us last class about how women can be mistreated, disrespected and abused in workplace settings. Women need to continue working and start fighting back rather than succumbing to defeat. They must stay positive and believe that things will get better.
    I am surprised that “don’t sleep with your boss” was one of the commandments listed. It is definitely a rule of thumb to live by, but again, that rule should be applied to both genders. Workplace relationships, in general, can get very sticky, but to get involved with your own boss definitely complicates things. But I do see why the writer chose to emphasize this rule for women. As unfortunate as it is, there will be times when male bosses try to manipulate their female employees. Women need to know that they should never give in to what these men want because they will forever be labeled as the girl that slept her way to the top and no one would ever respect her.

  8. Interesting topic! I think most people would agree that sleeping with your boss in order to get to the top is not an acceptable or valid way to climb to the top of the ladder. Women should earn their way to the top on their own expertise and merit. I think the debate comes in for whether women should be allowed to sleep with their boss if it is for romantic reasons. My personal opinion is that you should avoid this as best as possible purely because it will cause a lot of drama in the work place. Contrastly, if you have genuinely caught feelings for your boss and know they are reciprocated than I believe that “sleeping with your boss” is acceptable, BUT only if the women understands all the risks associated with it. These risks include furthering the gender stereotypes and bias in the work place and can likely lead her co-workers for judging her actual ability to complete the job and also affecting the perception of future women leaders following in her footsteps. But love is strong and not something to be ignored – at the end of the day (in my opinion) love is more important than your career, so if the boy is worth the risk and the repercussions than I say go for it!! It’s really up to every women as everyone has the rights to their own body (but they should consider the impact it will have on people around them as well.)

  9. I am completely surprised of the fact that the ten commandments included that as one of the ways women should use to succeed. It is very interesting and I wonder why they included it. For me, I have only really seen this in the media through movies and television shows but I haven’t really heard about that in real life. It ‘s very interesting and a very controversial topic. Many people would say that they agree in that women shouldn’t sleep with their boss because it could create an awkward environment for some, provide leverage in some way, and then of course allow the women to gain more power in the business. However, with the movement of women becoming more represented in many different facets, the use of sleeping with your boss can pose a threat to the competence and potential natural drive for women to gain power and representation on their own accord instead of in a way “using men” to get there. Their hard work and determination and passion could be lost under the reality of them sleeping with their superiors if other employees found out. In my opinion, if women were to sleep with their superior, it would bring women back two steps instead of them getting one step closer if they were to get the position from their hard work and determination. Although, I do believe that no one should sleep with their superior given that person be a male or female because it can cause more problems than anything. If this person were to get the top spot from sleeping with their boss, they almost have to assert more power or convince their employees of their competence even more if people were to find out.

    People should be awarded promotions for their hard work, competence, and ability to do the job not because they slept with their superior. It baffles me a little to see that someone thought the need to add this to their list of 10 commandments for women, its almost an unwritten rule. Maybe it was there due to media usage of that “tactic” and wanted to make sure to have women steer clear of sleeping with their boss?

    However, there is the aspect where it is hard to know if someone will truly fall in love with someone at work because someone could really find their soulmate at work. My aunt actually met her husband at his job and she worked under him. Although she left the company after awhile, she had met and started dating for a little while she worked there.
    Also, this makes me wonder if there is even one for men, like a 10 commandments that men need and I wonder if the same #10 would be on that list?
    This was a very interesting topic Sarah! Glad you found it so we could all talk about it.

  10. This is a very complicated discussion! At first when I read the last rule, “do not sleep with your boss”, I kind of felt offended. My initial thought that was also the author was just trying to be funny or sarcastic, but then when I really thought about it all stereotypes are founded in some level of truth. The reality is that there are women that sleep with their bosses and some of them do it specifically to level up in their companies. After coming to terms with that, I feel like the bigger discussion, similar to what you proposed, is should it matter that women sleep with their bosses? And if they do choose to, is it okay if they do it specifically to move up in their particular field or company.
    I don’t really have the answers to any of these questions mainly because I believe that adults have the right to behave however they please they just need to be prepared for the consequences of their actions.

    The only reason that it may be anyone else’s concern if a women chooses to sleep with her boss is that it may reflect poorly on women as a whole and negatively effect or stagnant women’s progression towards equality/equal treatment in the workplace and their opportunities for leadership.

  11. It is true as everyone has taken note of that sleeping with ones boss is not ideal. However, what I found is that these ten commandments do not apply to just women. These are ten tips that everyone who is trying to maintain a beneficial and healthy professional career should utilize. Ten commandments for women in leadership I would expect to be more geared to disassembling stereotypes. Some of those may include reporting all harassment. It may include, how to not forget about your feminine side and how that can impact your leadership positively. I made a comment like this previously, where I commented on a tv show that positively portrayed a woman who slept with her boss to gain promotions. I remember saying how detrimental it was to younger generations because of how young women may see it as an easy route to the top. For young men they would witness this phenomenon as something that is not as available to them, and how they should not work harder because it is possible that a woman could beat them out of a promotion.

    It is not moral to objectify women and believe that they may only get promotions because of their bodies. It is also not ideal to make a commandments list that emphasizes women in leadership, when in reality all of those can be applied to men in leadership or just leadership in general. All in all we should look out for each other and embrace fairness when able.

  12. The woman I interviewed for my project, when I asked her about the way she dressed, how she prioritized her appearance. She noted that there aren’t many women in her field of study, but she said that she did meet women who aimed to present themselves in overtly sexually ways with the men they worked with. She herself maintained an athletic appearance, wore little makeup or jewelry, but still was neat and appropriate. She prioritized aspects of her appearance that men would value in themselves – neatness, clean haircut, athleticism. She went on to say that the women who dressed overtly sexual would get noticed, but they would not get leadership positions.

    In doing this, what was interesting is that I could tell she loosely judged the women who opted to use their sexuality to get noticed in the career sphere. In terms of what I personally think, I don’t advocate using sex to get ahead, but I also acknowledge that the onus is always on the women in these settings. The men are never blamed for letting personal emotions (which would be what you termed giving promotions based off sex, for those who don’t consider men emotional creatures) cloud judgement in promotion or business decisions.

    But it does make me wonder? Couldn’t men also use sex to get ahead? Is it only because there aren’t enough women leaders overseeing men in business that this would be a common enough practice, that women are associated with this? If there were more women leaders, would we still blame the women bosses for sleeping with their male subordinates or would we ever blame the men?

  13. I understand where the premise of the article comes from- they want to make the world better for women, so they are giving them tips to succeed. This article, however, then poses a large problem. By saying what women need to do to fix things, they are saying it is the women’s fault. Saying that women “fail to understand” disregards all of the institutionalized barriers, and it places all blame on the competency on women. It disrupts the exact movement that is going forth. Blame doesn’t need to be placed- the biases and unjust workplace regulations need to be fixed.

    Going past this, I like the emphasis on hard work and networking because networking builds allies that can be used for change via tempered radicalism. It also creates a more friendly and supportive work environment. Furthermore, I like the idea of prioritizing and choosing battles because women shouldn’t be expected to do everything, and it’s okay to admit that they aren’t perfect and can’t do something. This, however, breaks the “do what you say you’re going to do” rule. Women are forced to take on too much, and doing everything that they are told to will lead to poor physical and mental states. “Just don’t take things on” they say, but women are often forced into it or face getting shamed or deemed not dedicated. Instead, build an environment where it’s okay to ask for help. Not only that, but speaking up in general against bias is the best way to change. Nothing will get fixed if no one talks about it. People HAVE to identify the problem before a solution can be presented. This seemingly contradicts the use of silence, but used right, limited speech can place an amount of respect and emphasis on the words. So, when you say something, people will listen because they know it’s important. This is dangerous, however, because unless there is some respect or power, the woman risks getting ignored more and passed over. On clothing, women should not have their competency judged on what they wear. Furthermore, no matter what they wear, they will be judged. So, how do you give advice on something when there is no way to win? For being positive, women shouldn’t have to be. Yes, it is good to have a good work environment, but they shouldn’t be expected to act perfectly. If something is wrong, they have a right to talk about it.

    Lastly, the “don’t sleep with your boss.” Sterotypically, when a women achieves power, it is from the assumption that it is from having sex with their boss. This was based on an era that said women weren’t competent, but this is becoming old fashioned. In current times, women are known to be able to reach power, and implying that it’s from sleeping around undermines everything. Today’s women don’t think of that as a way out, and it is demeaning to think that women think like that. This is especially impropriate with all the modern day sexual harassment. Women are often forced to endure rough interactions that they can do nothing about because they have no power. In addition, even if the woman likes their boss, they shouldn’t sleep with them because it makes for uncomfortable work conditions. It becomes hard to separate personal and business issues, and it becomes messy, especially if the relationship ends. In this case, the women would face even worse harassment until they are fired or forced out with no hope of promotion. So yes. Women shouldn’t sleep with their bosses, but that should universal of all sexes.

  14. Hi Sarah!

    While doing some of my own research on this topic in my free time, I have also come across these ten commandments. As soon as I saw the final one, I disregarded the article. I thought it wasn’t credible anymore because it goes against a female progression by just objectifying and assuming the females in leadership positions will do this. I believe it gives the impression that the “boss” is a man. I also questioned the reason for including this last commandment instead of a better one.

    Possibly, it is a blunt way to tell uninformed females that this is wrong to do. I wonder if people not studying female leadership get as offended by this last commandment, or do they think it is real advice? Of course, this happens in real life, though. Once someone sleeps their way to the top, I believe all professionalism and credibility is diminished. If coworkers find out, there could be a real problem for the entire company.

    Women can find more respectable ways to be represented in the top of hierarchical companies. I do see it from the other perspective that you have provided as well. This would be a faster way for females to be seen as leaders in companies, which would provide subordinates to have more female role models.

    From further research, I came across a website that describes reasons why having an affair with your boss is a bad idea. Although there seems to be perks involved, this is not the right way to achieve them. Your work ethic will be lacking if you are focused on an affair. Coworkers will find out. The promotion is not guaranteed. The boss probably has a family, which means he or she will not choose you in the end. If they do, it will be a mess because of regret. If your boss is open to this affair, it may be a reoccurring habit for him or her. (It reminds me of Mad Men. Don Draper has multiple affairs in the workplace.) If you are trying to achieve a higher leadership position, this requires credentials and experience. If your boss promotes you for the wrong reasons, it will be difficult to know how good you actually are at your job.

    I also found these tips for dating your boss. They are interesting to consider.

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