Don’t we have enough obstacles in the workplace without having to deal with other women sabotaging our efforts? Why can’t women just get along and support each other in their efforts to advance their careers?
The New York Times this week ran an article, “Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work”, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/business/10women.html that presented statistics to support the fact that 40% of all workplace bullies are women and that women bully other women 70% of the time!
Bullying is categorized as behavior that can include spreading rumors to derail someone’s career, withholding important promotional information, pushing and shoving (yes, do you believe this one?), bad mouthing others, passive aggressive behavior and more.
So why does this type of sabotaging behavior occur in the workplace?
There are several theories:
- Women need to adopt aggressive behavior to get ahead and once they are in a leadership position they still maintain this behavior.
- Women see other women as potential threats and competitors.
- There is not much opportunity for advancement and so women are more competitive.
- Women are being stereotyped as “bullies” but this is not necessarily the case.
- Women are insecure in their leadership positions and feel the necessity to sabotage other women to maintain their position of power.
Here is a wonderful quote from the article,
As we get into the corporate world, we’re taught or we’re led to believe that we don’t get ahead because of men. But, we really don’t get ahead because of ourselves. Instead of building each other up and showcasing each other, we’re constantly tearing each other down.
Do you see evidence of women bullying other women in your workplace?
Have you experienced another woman sabotaging your efforts at work?
I would love to hear from you. Please send your comments!
Fabulous article and so timely as I have heard this lately and been experiencing it somewhat too. I think your quote at the end is right on. It starts with ourselves and making the (abeit challenging) practice of not tearing our own selves down. Women are notoriously hard on themselves. I believe that only by first shifting how we approach our notions about ourselves and how we treat ourselves can we then shift the paradigm into creating a society where women support and boost each other.
Not only on the job but also on the cheerleading squad.
I am a 54 yr old woman who has been an er nurse for 16 yes. I work in a small town where there is a brand new er with 23 beds. All I want to do is take great care of my patients without some young nurse tech trying to tell me how to do my job. For example, she was in a room with me when I said I will be putting in a foley cather. She chimed in and said, let me do it because I teach others how to put them in and I know how to do it. I said according to either the hospitals policy or tx nurses practice act you as a nurse tech are not allowed to place one in a pt. Man she became defensive and said I quote “other nurses let me do it!”, after in a low tone of voice and with sarcasm,
I again repeated to her, no I won’t let you because I go by the book and I will not let you do this! She kind of got huffy and walked off and said whatever
this same individual while I was talking to someone regarding tz. She butted in and started talking for me. I was walking down the hall and she raised her voice and I pulled her into the breakroom and said “don’t yell at me in the hallway!” she became defensive and she proceeded to tell me “I am not the only one that feels this way”, meaning others not liking me. I felt that was uncalled for and inappropriate to say at the time. That was when I walked out of the room and mentioned to my cn.
Next thing I know I was called into the office with this cna and cn wanting us to resolve the problem.
I have been bothered like this several other times by younger workers. I feel as though I am being bullied and all the administrator says if u r not happy here personally and professionally find somewhere else to go.
What is up with all of this and how can u stop it and how can I file a bullying charge or harassement charge.
I am not an expert in this area and would not know how best to advise you, however, because this is such an important topic, I am having an expert on my radio show, Head over Heels Radio, Tuesday, August 19th. Her name is Kathleen Schulweis.
You can tune in live 2-3pm EDT or listen to the replay or download the mp3 the day after the live show.
You can email me a question to pose to Kathleen Schulweis on the show if you’d like!
This is a very important issue! Its so prevalent in every workplace (unless there is only one woman). I recently went to a lecture which discussed roles of men and women and the importance of deciding which role you want to take in a relationship – whether you are the man or woman, there cannot be two females or two male personalities in the same relationship. With that said, the psychologist mentioned that this does not apply in the workplace. She said that in the workplace everybody is a man (energy wise). The sole purpose of work is to provide and that is, essentially, a male characteristic. This got me thinking about why I never get along with women at work. Over the years I had come to the conclusion that it was a combination of the fact that there is a glass ceiling for women to advance (especially if you are in an administrative or typically female filled position), jealousy issues (whether because of being attractive or having more money or love than another), possibly due to a poor relationship or lack of a relationship with your mother and finally because traditionally women are raised without team & competitive experiences (many men usually play in team sports their whole lives – I chose independent sports like swimming or dance where you are really working on your personal best). With this said; after the lecture I spoke to my therapist about the comment that everyone is a man at work. I asked him what he thought. We talked about it for awhile and I said ‘does this have something to do with why I have so many issues with women at work?’. Are we fighting because we cannot be our natural selves at work?(eg. you should not cry at work obviously and feelings are not valued; rather, ideas, production, logic and making or saving money are valued). He said something very interesting…. He said, “when you are a ‘woman’ to another female at work, you force them to be the ‘male’ in the situation and they don’t like that!” I was stunned by this statement and it took awhile to get my head around but if you think about it, its kind of like picturing a group of athletic men on a sports team being joined by a sensitive effeminate gay guy. Their natural reaction is one of aversion. Their natural reaction to the situation is “common dude, man up and stop slowing us down!”. This is huge! Women have to ‘suck it up’ so much in the workplace and for those who have that figured out already, it is annoying when a girlie girl comes in and gets sensitive or needs attention. I’m that girl! I’m extremely sensitive and I guess I also crave attention. This does get the attention of men in the workplace but not in a good way and it probably pisses off women twofold. The professional (or dare we say, male) side of a woman gets pissed off because my feminine ways are distracting men at the top from seeing their legitimate quality work and to the ‘female’ side of a woman, its just plain threatening. We all have this in us and it causes inner conflict and perpetual irritation in us at work because we are constantly switching from female to male roles throughout the work day. We want to be seen as nice to other women and not a ‘bitch’ yet we have to be driven at work so this makes feel like we are in constant conflict with ourselves and others on an unconscious level. Other women in the workplace mirror us and remind us that we are obviously women and we are put in a position to compete. Its madness! So how do you reduce feminine cat fight energy at work? You put your man hat on for eight hours and you don’t mention your feelings and you zero in on the work as hard as that sounds. Its easier than you think though because you are not in a place of constant contradiction. At 5 p.m. (or whatever time you get off work), you can put your girl hat back on and let yourself be cherished for the feminine qualities that are so wonderful about you. You can bond with other women after work (or with the women at work that you have no chance of needing to compete with because your professional goals do not intersect). At work, you use statements like “I think” instead of “I feel” with both men and women. This will help men see you as a professional instead of a sexual target or someone to ‘take care of’ and it will help other women not have to ‘be the man’ with you or engage in catty drama energy with you. I’m still figuring this out but I think its a significant way to reduce the drama at work. You can still be beautiful and intelligent and glorious. You don’t have to dress like a man, but if you are a feminine woman with feelings like most of us are, then you have to remember that we are all “men” in the work place because our goal is to get a paycheck and produce. This is not a sexist statement. This is not a statement that contradicts feminism. This deals with archetypes and the unconscious which exists whether we are versed in it or not (the same way electricity exists whether we understand how the light switches on or not). If you accept this idea that we are all ‘men’ in the workplace and you are not there to bond, make friends, gather or be cherished/adored, then maybe your expectations will change and the energy you attract will change. Maybe your constant life of ‘drama’ will change. I had a friend that used to say, “you hate boats but you want to join the yacht club”. Well the corporate world is just boats so if you don’t want to be a boat or you cannot make yourself a boat for 8 hours a day, you will hate the yacht club and you will constantly struggle. I, by the way, have not accomplished fully applying this idea yet. I still fall back on the instinct that using my feminine energy is the only way to keep management (men) wanting me in the workplace. In this economic environment, fear of losing one’s job has a significant presence. People use whatever they think they need to use to keep their jobs. If you are a woman who has been rewarded for your looks more than your abilities for most of your life, you may think that that your looks are your security. If your male boss has never commented on your ideas or abilities maybe that is a result you should take a look at. Maybe you need to focus on your work and your abilities and stop using your sexuality. If you accept this idea, you may look around and see that for the most part, the people who don’t get laid off are the ones who’s abilities are needed in the company. A great rack or ass may be enjoyable to management but when it is time to cut expenses, a manager has to trim the fat. Survival of the fittest means making yourself a necessity not an accessory. Ok girls, I guess its time to man-up!
Since I am from New York originally, I decided that even though I am not a huge sports fan, I was going to have fun, and root for the Giants for the super bowl this weekend. Yesterday, I decided to wear a NY Giants t-shirt to work, and I also purchased a NY Giants necklace to show my support.
My dad is a Giants fan, so I was also showing some support for his team in general. My boss is going to the superbowl tomorrow in Indianapolis, and he is also a huge Giants fan. My co-workers had helped move something for me (not anything grandiose), so I decided to stop by and thank them.
One of the ladies (whose name I won’t reveal) noticed my top immediately, and went in on me pretty hard. There are executives (mostly male) up and down the hallway of this executive office who were in earshot. She was very loud when she decided to grill me with trivia questions about the Giants. When I told her that they weren’t the team that I usually support in the regular season, and that I am a native of NY, that didn’t stop her from asking me to name 2 players on the team (I got one name correct), and who the coach was. She continued to haze me by questioning where the Giants stadium was located. She was very load, and I was so embarrased. She is my friend on FB, and she mentioned (loudly again) how she noticed that the day before I had posted that I was in search on my NY Giants Jersey to my friends (like this is a bad thing). She then attempted to take a picture of me (to upload to FB no doubt, where she would continue to haze me, and then said ‘See, this is what I am talking about, this is a true representation of a ‘bandwagon’ fan!”
I was at such a lost for words. It was like walking over hot coals. When I tried to win just a little ground, it was already far gone, and I walked, in shame, back to my desk. I turned on the way back, and noticed the head of the accounting dept (a guy) laughing in his office.
I just wanted to bury my head in the sand so badly. I know she has issues at home, but I have always tried to be a friend to her, and be there for her, and I would have NEVER done that to her, or far less, anyone for that matter. One of the nicer executives (another guy), came out of his office, to try to support me, which I appreciated.
Still, I proudly wore my sports top, and neck band all day at work, and the moment I put on my sweater (bc it was getting cold) people would start to ask me if I was doing so because I was embarrassed about what happened with the girl. Of course, I answered ‘of course I’m not’, which was true, but I guess the damage had already been done.
I just didn’t understand why I deserved to be treated that way. What brought that on. Later in the day, one of the several people who heard her outbursts toward me, mentioned that I should not feel bad, that it was not me, but her, who made a fool of herself. That did make me think.
The bully finally came to my desk and apologized late that afternoon. I feel like, even though I accepted her apology, the damage had already been done. Don’t get me wrong, I know who I am, but it can get tough in the workplace when woman try to knock each other down. I wondered if I were a man, if she would have even had a 2nd thought about even saying anything to him (I doubt it).
I just wish we could be nicer to one another as women, and stop putting competition before anything. It is a man’s world, I get that, but we seem to bury who we truly are in order to be liked, respected and noticed. I don’t think that my relationship (workplace or otherwise) will ever be the same with this person, and the sad part is, I think her kind of attitude will launch her to higher positions within the company, not mine.
Thanks for your thoughts and replies.
Jojo, I am sorry you had to experience this. Your colleague certainly has some issues, but it’s important for you to not make her issues your own. Don’t play into it even though it’s hurtful. The best advice I can give is to unhook emotionally. The only thing you can control is your reaction to her behavior. You can’t change her’s. Once you don’t react to her emotionally, she will most likely move on to bully someone else.
Keep me posted and let me know if this approach works. Bonnie
As years pass and I become older and wiser, it becomes easier to ignore the instigators and bullies in the workplace. Jojo, in your situation, Bonnie is correct … it’s very hard not to let your emotions drive your actions, but the best thing you can do is to avoid getting pulled into to her shenanigans but rather just smile and walk away. Just by answering her assanine questions puts her in control. By walking away (what Bonnie said) will make her move on to the next victim.
Women can be very hurtful with even just a look. There are several I executive women at my work place that believe they are better than anyone else especially those individuals that are not at their level. I’ve always known to respect each and every person as an individual and not what position or how much money they have. Everyone deserves the same respect. Needless to say … “why can’t we all get along? “
I appreciate your comment and agree that the best advice is to stay above it all and not play into their games. Easier said than done, but it’s important for our sanity and stress levels as well as career.
2 weeks ago, our servers went down for our sites and we receive either calls or chat sessions from our sites for technical/troubleshooting issues. Well, I noticed that our chat sessions were piling up quick, so I asked a supervisor if I could take them. He agreed and said to get off the phone, and just do chat all day. Well within minutes, my coworkers got curious to know what I was doing and asked. The minute that they knew what was going on, I heard unprofessional comments that were uncalled for throughout the day, and even had to email my supervisor of how my coworkers inappriately reacted. He apologized for that and was completely taken off guard but til this day, it really took a toll of the environment in my department with lots of tension and even 1 pathetically unfriend me on Facebook. Can you believe that!? lol
Keep in mind: our actual supervisor is out of town on vacation so the supervisor that I email/expressed concerned to was in another office mind you, another country. Plus, its just the women except for 2 that had issues about this.
Somethings don’t surprise me anymore, and this situation actually didn’t. The whole purpose of my request was to help our department but instead, I received the 3rd degree from my coworkers that were either insecure or jealous of our other supervisors decision.
Drama Drama Drama
It sounds like these women are very insecure about their own abilities and career. I would hope that your supervisor creates an environment where each member of the team is respected for their contributions. Without a supportive, inclusive environment, lots of bullying can take place.
Constant personal attacks, professional attacks, sabotage, humiliation…
I absolutely hate other women. I am bigoted in this regard. When it comes to most any group, race, religion, minority, whatever, I trust you until you give me a reason not to. Except for women. They are always horrible backstabbing monsters that would kill you as soon as look at you, with no mercy or regret — just evil. The only answer is to get a job in which I am the only woman, or in which I work independently.
I am so sorry to hear that you’ve had such horrible experiences working with women. I find that women can also be incredibly supportive and unselfish. It sounds like you are working in a competitive environment that tolerates this type of behavior. It’s their insecurity in their position and their low sense of self-esteem that is more than likely causing such bad behavior.
I am a 30 something year old women who has been bullied by other women since I was born. My mother bullied me. My sister. Teachers. Bosses. Even women I thought were friends. Recently, I’ve been bullied by my supervisor who called me many names and ridculed me every day in front of everyone. She has a false sense of power and belitted me every chance she got. I tried to be nice and befriend her but she just used me. There were not many women in the office and it was mostly men employed. I did everything I could to try and make things smooth at the work place. She even blew off one of the employees sexually harassing me. I am very embarrassed writing this and I have been shamed and shuned.
I finally had enough and quit. I feel like a quitter because I did not stand up tp her like I wanted. Any chance I took to speak with her she blew me off and made a big deal about it by yelling my name throughout the office. It’s been a while since I left that job but it stills bothers me. A part of me have never bloomed into women. I still feel ike a 5 year old kid being punished by my mother. I do not have any female friends and I do not plan on having any. In the end I am disappointed and ridiculed. Why don’t women like me. I guess I will never know. It hurts and it is humiliating.
I do not understand, why does it have to be this way!?!?!