Mediocre males and those underneath them

“Help! Help! I can’t breathe! I’m being squashed by the weight of male middle management mediocrity!” — every vaguely competent woman early in her career, ever.


Some guys have it all. White skin, a hetero disposition, a middle management job they wear like a badge of honour.

A free lifetime membership to the workplace boys’ club.

An assured path to the top, thanks to the lack of glass or bamboo ceilings in their way.

Don’t get me wrong. Some male managers are smart and hardworking, good delegators, good colleagues and genuinely nice guys. I work for a few myself. These ones deserve what they have, and deserve to ascend. Bravo.

Sadly for us all, they’re a somewhat rare species.

Far more omnipresent in CorpVille is what I like to call the mediocre white male. It’s a legitimate species, much like the chimpanzee or the gibbon. And, much like these primates, the mediocre white male comes in a variety of sub-species too.

The infernal delegator

This type of male middle-manager is inherently lazy but aspires to look productive while simultaneously licking the balls of the partner/CEO/big boss. He’s the type of guy who delegates every single thing that comes across his desk to more junior staff because, well, he can.

We, as more junior females, sit there in terror working on whatever, knowing that sooner or later that nasal-y voice will peak across the office floor — “hey, can I grab you for a second to help me out?”

When it does, we sigh internally and wonder what piece of “work” it will be this time. Will it be the complex thing that the manager doesn’t understand himself? Or, better yet, will it be the task that literally achieves nothing except making our blood boil?

Either way, we know we’re in for a great day.

The inefficiency champion

A second, equally dangerous, sub-species of mediocre male.

You know those mid-level guys who are quite possibly moles from other firms, put in your firm to make the place as inefficient as humanely possible whilst trying to appear like they are committed to the cause? Like, Manchurian Candidate style.

He’s literally the most inefficient person in the place. His juniors shit all over him in terms of real work completed. However, his billable hours are high because he does “stuff” all day then charges it to whatever client he was kind of thinking about.

Man. Think. Is. Hard.

Watch out. This guy likes to not only stymie his own productivity, but also the productivity of those under him.

When working for this type of mediocre white male, you may find yourself doing tasks including but not limited to the following:

  • spending days scanning documents, for reasons you do not know;
  • taking a document written by the mediocre white male, and attempting to find the sources he relied on when writing. Even though you weren’t there at the time and he did not write down, mention or otherwise retain any of his sources;
  • printing several small forests’ worth of documents in multiple versions, and creating folders containing these, only to be told after it needs to be redone because the mediocre one has had hard think (insert grunts of effort) and had made a mistake in the first place, which of course he blames on you;
  • doing a whole bunch of hard work that you’re proud of, only to have the mediocre one claim it as his own and give you no credit for it.

Avoid the inefficiency champion at all costs.

Women: slap down these mediocre males down, stat!

A recent ABC News article by Julia Baird wonderfully described why women should carry themselves with the confidence of a mediocre white dude. Read it.

I’m going to go one step further and say that we need to be calling out the mediocre men on their bullshit. We need to highlight and expose their lack of work ethic, ability and intellect.

Whenever I see an intelligent woman who has the right answer get steamrolled by her average-brained manager at work, I cringe. Then I see red.

Conversely, whenever I see someone smart and hardworking get the pleasure of pointing out a mediocre male’s mistakes, I glow inside.

We’ve got to remember that women have only really been sort-of equals in the workplace for a couple of decades, if that. We have to keep pushing to make sure that where we are smarter, we get the credit. We need to ensure that no man gets promoted just because he plays squash with the boss.

Because no smart, hardworking woman deserves to be underneath a mediocre white man.

Originally published at on October 19, 2016.