The Odd Dynamics Of Having A Female Boss That’s Your Age

September 4, 2019  |  
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female boss at work

Source: Jay Yuno / Getty

Work life just isn’t what it used to be—and thank goodness for that. It’s no longer acceptable for men to call women “doll” in the office nor is it acceptable for companies to just blatantly and exclusively promote men. Nepotism is having its day in court. We are coming down hard on ageism and realizing there are a lot of great reasons to hire older employees. And another interesting thing is happening: there is no direct correlation between success and age. We have impressive individuals who are finally achieving the recognition they deserve granted a bit late in life and we also have people under 30 becoming CEOs. That does, however, create a dynamic that none of us really know how to handle: we can have bosses that are our age—if not younger. Here are some of the funny realities of having a female boss who is your age.

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It’s hard not to compare

You may have worked very hard to get out of the habit of comparing your journey to others’, but all of that goes out the window when the CEO of your company is a year younger than you and a woman. You can no longer say “Oh that person is just more successful because she’s older” or “It’s just because he’s a man.” Those things aren’t true.

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You know someone for her

Sometimes, you think of someone who’d be a great romantic match for your boss. If she’s single, you can’t help but occasionally be aware of men who’d be great for her. But you can’t offer to set up your boss. That could turn into a nightmare wrapped in a disaster.

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You feel bad not inviting her

It can feel weird talking to your coworkers about getting drinks, right in front of your boss, and not inviting your boss. She’s your age. She likes the same bars you do. But you can’t get drinks with your boss…right?

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It’s hard to keep up decorum

You have to work extra hard to remember to be professional around her. You look at her and you see a peer so you want to use bad words or tell her you got a UTI from your one night stand.

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You see ageism hurt her

You often witness people talk down to her. People above her, as well as her peers, struggle to respect her because she’s so young. You kind of want to step in and stand up for her since she does, in a way, feel like your peer.

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You empathize with her personal life

If your boss is in a bad mood because of something happening in her personal life, you relate—sometimes a bit too well. If she’s single, or in an on again/off again thing, you’ve been there. You overhear her fights with a boyfriend and wonder if you should ask if she wants to talk about it.

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But you can’t get too personal

You have to keep a distance because that’s the professional thing to do. So if you find her crying in the bathroom, you have to kind of walk away. Even though you know you’d know just how to talk to her about her problems—you’re both women of the same age. You have similar experiences.

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She’s so much wealthier

You both can sense how strange it is that you’re the same age and she’s just so much wealthier. You pull up in your dinky old Honda next to her brand new BMW. Your lives are so similar and yet so different.

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You want to confide in her

If your personal life is interfering with your work life, well, you just have to make sure that doesn’t happen. But it feels almost safe to bring your personal life to work because you think “My boss will get it: she’s just like me!”

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But it wouldn’t be fair to the others

You both sometimes fall into a great conversation, chit chatting about real life. If people didn’t know better, they’d think you were best friends. But you have to reel it in. If you develop a close friendship, it will seem unfair to the other employees.

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You may have friends in common

You may discover that you have friends in common. That’s weird. Maybe a buddy invites you to a dinner party and your boss is there. Whoops. So much for complaining about your boss that night.

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You can be peers elsewhere

There can be times when status doesn’t matter and you’re both suddenly just women of your age. Like if you’re in the parking garage together when a man starts cat calling you and you yell at him together, getting one another’s backs.

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Sometimes she needs your advice

You catch yourself giving her advice that only a woman of your/her age could give. Like where to get affordable but high-end blazers that don’t look too old and where to get good hair color.

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She could make a good mentor

She could make an incredible female mentor. She has what you want, but isn’t so old that she’s out of touch with the realities of your industry today.

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But your pride gets in the way

Your pride gets in the way of you asking her to be a mentor. That would be fully admitting that this woman who is your age is light years ahead of you in your industry.

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