The Mystique of the Mean Girl

Executive Woman

Mean girls get ahead. Nice girls don’t get rich. The bitch in the corner office.

All those old clichés about women with power: Do they hold a grain of truth?

Certainly, über-successful, nasty women dominate TV (hello, Kelly Cutrone), and one recent study found that disagreeable gals earn more than nice ones. “But when you’re mean, eventually you’re going to hit a wall,” says Bernadette Boas, author of Shedding the Corporate Bitch. “The higher you go up corporately, and the more you contribute to leadership and shareholder value, there’s no way the company wants a public persona of a bitch.” 

But if you’re not a battle-ax when you’re the boss, what are you supposed to be? Bold? Kind? Tough? A team builder? Given that women haven’t occupied positions of power for very long, the ultimate profile of the power woman is still a work in progress, says Christy Whitman, author of Taming Your Alpha Bitch.  “We can re-create what it means to be successful and a woman.”

Take it on: Do you have to be mean to be powerful?