Kim Carney /
By Eve Tahmincioglu contributor
updated 12/28/2008 2:40:55 PM ET 2008-12-28T19:40:55

Believe it or not, this year’s most popular "Your Career" columns weren’t all about the economy.

I received much reader feedback from columns on an eclectic mix of topics, everything from paid family leave to the dearth of women in technology.

Here’s an overview of columns that generated the most response in 2008, and some of your e-mails:

Bosses gone bad in a bad economy
With cutbacks in staffing and the constant drumbeat to perform, some bosses, typically those who already have some problems in the boss department, are yelling more, undermining their workers, and just being being downright rude.

The column prompted stories from many of you about your bad bosses and advice on how to deal with them:

Thank you so much for your story today about higher management and what no less qualifies as abuse and illegal behavior. Regardless of where you work (even like myself in the government system), this problem is astronomical especially in the wakes of hiring freezes and layoffs.
— Christi, Lakewood, Wash.

I note one of the seven tips for dealing with a mean boss is to try to keep up with his pace. I don't think this approach works. The bad boss continually ratchets up the workload and expectations. You can never catch up or keep up, even if you're working 24/7.

A better method is to take ownership of the pace — slow down, take a deep breath, ask for clarification and prioritization. Don't become angry or insubordinate — smile, say hello, allow yourself time to think and respond. These bosses love to catch people off-guard and put them on the defensive. You need to let the boss know by your calm demeanor that you will not be treated as an act in his three-ring circus.
— L.B.

My doctor at the Mayo Clinic told me I was working in a TOXIC work environment and should look to leave. This bastard screams at the people in the office continually all day, every day. I'm working on my resume, and getting help on finding a better job.
Liz M., Arizona

Making the case for paid family leave
Among industrialized nations, the U.S. is one among only a handful of countries including Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland that don’t have federally mandated paid family leave.

While some states, including California, Washington and New Jersey, have implemented or are planning to implement this employee benefit, there is still a raging debate over whether employers should have to foot the bill.

President Barack Obama is a supporter of legislation to mandate family leave, but it’s unclear whether his administration will push such a benefit during a recession.

Reader reaction to this column was heated on both sides of the debate:

One of my biggest criticisms of the American workforce is how large companies are able to pay millions of dollars to CEO and senior level managers while their very own employees cannot have paid time off to create an environment for their kids and the future leaders of America. Will the corrupt leaders of our business world actually miss a couple of millions? I highly doubt it, given the amount of money that they pay in taxes anyway.

Not everyone is born in Camelot, and quite frankly, I wouldn't want to be. I would rather see my children grow up knowing that good things and bad things happen in this world and sometimes we have to adjust to the situation. Paid Family Leave makes real sense and has real results in our country.
— Robert B. Lister, Wildwood, Mo.

I own a small veterinary practice. Of my 14 employees, 12 are women of "child bearing" age, the others are older, with older parents. How can anyone expect that I could afford to pay them to be gone, especially if several were gone at once?

The big corporations can afford this sort of thing — their jobs can be shared, temps hired, etc. But a professional practice is a different animal entirely. You cannot (unless you are in a large metro area) find experienced veterinarians to fill in, not to mention the even more rare Technicians. Even receptionists cannot be up to speed in a short period of time.

Your "article" reads more like an editorial for a liberal/socialist newsletter than a serious effort at professional, unbiased reporting.
— David Menard, DVM, Eau Claire, Wis.

Where are all the women in technology?
When it comes to women in technology, the numbers are actually dwindling, and experts have been scratching their heads over why.

Some people blame the school systems, others say it’s the image technology portrays. Most of you had some strong opinions on the subject and my approach to the topic:

I am 41 years old (female), and have been in technology since 1991. IT's been a bumpy road, with the tech boom and bust. My mother, more interestingly, has been programming computers in the 1950's and has been in technology since then (completing her Master's in Computer Science in the early 70's), and is still working! She's about to turn 70 and I still go to her for help with certain technology issues!

But what I wanted to say about technology is that a woman is NOT RESPECTED in technology. I have story after story of myself and other women who have been shut out because technology is a man's world, and women haven't infiltrated it. Although your article more focused on how to find qualified women and that women aren't going into the field now, there are women who are already here, who don't get the opportunities that men do for career advancement, training, and on the job learning.
— Denise, Maryland

While I applaud your efforts to bring this subject to the forefront, I feel that you made the exact mistakes that you are advising against. I understand you were trying to point out the benefits women can bring to a field.

Quoting directly from your article: "Men, he says, largely don't do a great job making the products easier to use because they concentrate more on the 'geek' factor of technology. 'I think women have more of an intuitive sense of designing interfaces.'"

To put it another way, that's like saying that men are good at building a house while women are good at decorating it! I'm sorry, but I find that point of view offensive. Women can be just as good at the "hard," techy, "geeky," and logical stuff as men can. And saying anything different does women injustice.
— Lindsay H., Bowling Green, Ky.

Good thing women are strictly superior to men in every conceivable fashion. Otherwise there'd be articles on industries dominated by females, and the relative lack of male participants. Oh wait there already are. Diversity is over-hyped bullshit spread by the same dogma used by religion.
— Lance B.

Work-at-home scams rising
I probably get more mail about work-at-home opportunities than any other career topic. Many of you are desperate to find a job that allows you to work from home because it’s flexible, and some of you hope it can provide you with some extra cash until the economy turns around.

Well, this desire is causing many of you to fall for the endless work-at-home scams that end up in your e-mail boxes.

This column prompted, as expected, a flood of e-mails — and some of you had no sympathy for the victims in my story:

You know, I’m sorry when anyone who’s trying to make some extra money loses so much but, for God’s sake, these scams have been around for ages! I can’t believe people keep falling for them, and I think they, deep down, are just trying to find the easiest way to make a few extra bucks. “Handicapped” people have tons of resources through local agencies to help them find work; why did Bonnie go to work for a company she knew nothing about? That’s just ignorant. And I heard about the package-mailing scam over a year ago on Oprah, and a few months ago there was a case in one of the courtroom reality shows. I really think the people who get taken like this are, unfortunately, lazy. Not greedy, not dishonest…just lazy.
Jane S.

I’m just writing to say thank you for your informative article. I’m one of many who have been considering some form of work-at-home opportunity. Your article showed up at just the right time to let me know exactly how prevalent scams are in the work-at-home field.

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