On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work in the branch of the clinic where there are nine others: two billing staff, two receptionists, the house manager, and four counselors. This ennead is noteworthy it is all women.

I am curious about the ethos and ambience of work environments when it is composed of nearly all of one sex or of equal proportions of both. All day long I watch the interactions and goings-on of these Medical Muses as I pop in and out of appointments. I have heard tales all women staff can be difficult.  They say ‘too many women’ (and worse: ‘all women”) makes for a tense working environment full of catty cliques. I would dismiss this but the majority of people who have told me such have been women.  So, like Margaret Mead among the Bantus I try to observe and wonder: is there any truth to this?

There are no palpable tensions or frictions among my co-workers; they seem to get along and they don’t seem to fuss about themselves or each other. However, I often walk into a group which suddenly goes mum, which makes me suspect I have just crashed a party. Their giggles and talk suddenly drops off. If there is something juicy or gossipy going on they ain’t letting me in on it. I am outcast to these chin-wags. Sometimes I ask if everyone is getting along; I am told always oh, everyone’s fine. I have enough professional intuition (and BS meter) to know they are not entirely telling the truth. Perhaps testosterone-filled MD macho masculine redolence provides just enough authority and stability to keep things quiet and preventing reenactments of scenes from “The Women” . This one rooster makes the henhouse peaceful. Maybe. Maybe not. I wish someone would clear the air for me and fess up. Another conclusion ( more prosaic and less paranoid) is they are just fine and ‘all female worker tension” is rubbish.

I have never worked in a majority male or all-male working environment. I suspect these have their own rubric and challenges. This is even more ineffable for me than the all-female version.