Women are a jealous, catty group. We’re raised to pay attention to the other women in our lives in a judgmental way. We even judge our friends. Despite the idea of sisterhood, we’re more prone to be critical of each other than men are. This mentality carries over into the workplace where female on female bullying is on the rise.
Since 2007, the practice has increased by 9%, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. Yes, it’s that common, that there’s an institute.
Some women, once they’ve reached the top, are willing to help other women get there, too. But others will pull that ladder up behind them and secure themselves in the minority without looking back. In male-dominated offices, women who have succeeded tend to take on stereotypically male behaviors. They learn to be more aggressive and cut-throat, and once you throw in their natural jealousy of each other, it’s a perfect mix for workplace turmoil. Recent research shows that women are 71% more likely to be bullied by another woman. Whereas, the chances of a woman being bullied by a man is at a much lower 46%.
These statistic are startling and upsetting. As women, we’ve come so far in the business world in just over the last 30 year alone. For us, as a gender, to be so down on each other does not bode well for our future not only in the workplace but amongst ourselves as a society.
Some “mean girls,” will admit that there is a power trip in sinking their claws into another woman’s back, if only to prove that you’re better in some way. These same women can’t dignify or even justify some of the things they’ve done both in and out of the workplace to keep other women in their place – it’s as though it just comes naturally to some. But where it might be natural for some to be deceptive and, in some cases, outright evil, those on the receiving end understand the damage that can be done.
“I was 23 and pretty much straight out of college. My boss at the time admitted to me that she’d started out in a work environment where female bullying was completely normal. Because of her past she decided she would bully her inferiors one day, too. It was like a sorority game to her. I didn’t deserve to get hazed, but I was going to get hazed anyway on principle,” says one victim.
“I’m a teacher at a high school and I work with a female bully. She’s charming with the male teachers, but goes to great lengths to insult any woman who questions her. She’s as petty as criticizing someone’s outfit until they’re on the verge of tears. I don’t know why she doesn’t get fired,” says a second victim.
We can blame genetics or generations of struggle for equality that has given us a chip on our shoulders – but that’s just passing the buck. We owe it to ourselves to kick female on female bullying to the curb and to stand up for sisterhood in all its forms. You would not be where you are today if another woman didn’t pave the way for you. And like our inherent catty ways, this too, is a fact.
(Photo: 20th Century Fox)