Working with women can be a tricky business

After the 2009 Filipina Leadership Summit in Berkeley, Lilia V. Villanueva (U.S. FWN100™ '07) reflected on her tenure as a member of the 2009 U.S. FWN100™ Selection Committee.

(Top Image: Lilia Villanueva at her family's ancestral home in Bacolod. Photo Credit: The Bacolod Food Hunters)


Working with women can be a tricky business. I know a lot of women who openly declare that they prefer working with or for male rather than female bosses. I never shared this sentiment; I’ve had my fair share of tyrannical female bosses who needed to be so in order to keep their position in the power pecking order of corporations or non-profits.

I felt sympathy for these women—they’ve worked doubly hard to get where they wanted to be, only to be hated by their fellow womenkind. Women, who, if possible, stay away from other women in the workplace, do so for reasons such as: women gossip, they get jealous easily, they’re stricter as bosses and won’t give any slack, they’re bitchy and moody.

In 2009, I’d like to think that we, who grew into adulthood during the nascent period of the women’s liberation movement in the U. S., have gone past the traditional reasons for avoiding working with women. As past president of Asian Women United of California for several years, I’ve had many opportunities to work exclusively with women in non-profit organizations and projects, and have yet to synthesize why I feel blessed for having belonged to a very strong and good cabal of sisterhood.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of joining the Filipina Women’s Network, and served on the Selection Committee for the 2009 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the U. S. There are a dozen committee members, and many of us have not met or seen each other for a couple of years since the 2007 Summit in Washington, D.C. 

When FWN President Marily Mondejar asked me to join the Selection Committee, I agreed to serve because I know that giving back to organizations that work on and for my behalf deserve my time of day and more. Lucky for me, the majority of the Committee members are more techno-savvy than I, and therefore, efficient and organized.

FWN board members have taken to heart lessons learned from the previous Summit, and our Committee, headed by Shirley Raguindin and Ellen Abellera, functioned as smoothly as one would expect, given that members lived on several states on both coasts. The weekly teleconference meetings were prompt, efficient and ended on time! Amazing. And we weren’t all business either. Friendly banter was tolerated and relaxed everyone who, for the most part, only knew each other through voices.

Being on the Committee provided me with an opportunity to ‘meet’ other talented and wonderful women—the nominees, which each committee member was assigned to interview. I spoke with ten Filipinas I’ve never met or known of before, discussed their careers and aspirations, and always came away feeling good about being part of them—fellow Pinays, living in this country. It was a good feeling, and I benefited from feeling the closeness, even for just a few minutes. With some, we promised to visit each other when they’re in my city (New York), or I in theirs.

Yes, a kinship born from working with an organization that fosters networking and supporting each other because we, as Filipinas in the U. S., do have a voice and can exercise it if we want to.

Thank you, fellow Selection Committee members and Marily, for the privilege of working with you!

Lilia V. Villanueva (U.S. FWN100™ '07)
Art & Interiors Gallery Owner – TAMA Gallery
New York City


More about Lilia V. Villanueva (U.S. FWN100™ '07)

Co-founder of TAMA Gallery in New York City This is part of a series of video stories of the 100 most influential Filipina women in the U.S. selected by the Filipina Women's Network.