• Mon, May 16 2011

Female On Female Bullying In The Workplace Is On The Rise

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)

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  • Fiona

    Thank you for posting this article! It’s soo true. Even in 2011, I see soo many female bullies in senior management. I am an aspiring female leader myself and I made myself a promise a long-time ago to not be catty or down-right nasty to other female (or male) co-workers. We really need to emphasize sisterhood in our society. If women don’t stand for each other; who will? You don’t see men bullying or behaving catty towards each other.
    I was always under the impression that female leaders had self-confidence, good self-esteem..etc. But I see that in soo many cases, it’s insecurity all the way. Why is it that way? Why does high school behaviour trigger into the workplace? Are we that insecure to the point that we’ll stoop SOO LOW to insult our fellow genders.
    My mother is in the ultimate bullying place of all! She’s a teacher and with more 30+ female teachers on staff, it’s a breeding ground and the mecca of female cattiness. I thought teachers were supposed to be educators and nurterers (and advocates of no-bullying!). It crushes me to see my mom everyday talk about the catty-ness that goes on in her workplace. It’s not easy to navigate these waters and win the favour of the ultimate mean girl (in this case, the principal!). It’s pretty sad to see that these very same women are educating future minds.
    I’ve always made it a point to have male bosses, instead of female ones..because I cannot stand female cattyness. I try to avoid female managers as much as I can. The bullying brings me down!! And I cannot afford more therapy.

  • Alex

    Um. Wouldn’t it be a little bit more valuable to explore *why* women tend to bully one another in the workplace – like, say, maybe it’s because the tough competition for less opportunity makes women more cutthroat? And also, it’s not really okay for women to be straightforwardly aggressive in the workplace, so type of jockeying that men can express happens with women, but it has to be behind closed doors.

    It’s just a really dangerous (and kind of damaging) stretch to say that women are inherently more catty and/or jealous than our male peers.

    But otherwise the site has been a great read so far!

  • Vanessa

    I take karate and have found that more women I fight have a nasty, aggressive, competitive streak than men. I have been injured more often by this particularly obnoxious type of woman than the few and far between obnoxious man I’ve fought. Perhaps it’s because men have more of a potential to injure us permanently, while women see each other as equals. One has to win, and it’s can get ugly.

  • Jill Z.

    Oh, the world of teachers, indeed. It’s too true. I’m a middle school teacher and the mean girl behavior is atrocious. From standing in the hallways and criticizing coworkers outfits, to making backhanded remarks at meetings (“Did we not read the whole memo from beginning to end?”), to leaving out certain teachers when “everyone” goes out for Friday afternoon cocktails.

    It’s unreal how nasty teachers are.

    • DMMC

      tests

    • DMMC

      I have no doubt the world of teachers is as you say. However, let’s be blunt. ANY workplace that is female dominated is going to be catty, jealous, petty and bullying. I just retired from the police force after 24 years, and could write volumes about the bitchiness there. Policewomen, in general, are aggressive with a real edge to their personalities, often from trying to do a man’s job and compete with men. But when they turn on each other, watch out. I have an exceptional figure, partly from genetics but mostly from a healthy lifestyle. I am tall and slim, and most of the women I worked with were really overweight and miserable about it. The gried I went through over the years from their jealousy was terrible. I would feel sorry for them if it weren’t for how nasty some of them were. And considering how many of them were fat, compared to the slim ones, it was very easy for them to gang up and bully someone like me. I don’t know if women will ever really change. Your thoughts?

  • peopleagainstmetlife

    I worked in a group of jealous catty bitches at MetLife Broker-Dealer Group. The Supervisor went behind my back and made a whole case against me to get me fired at 3 months pregnant. Her excuse “I needed to save my job,” that was her comment to me when I asked her why did she not even allow me a chance to speak. I had been with the company 5 years and this lady was just hired about 7 months ago and instead of learning the departmental processes and functions she dedicated her time there to building a case against me with the help of Robert Costello the manager, whom she apparently went crying to and I had NO CLUE what was going on. Anyways, I got fired because of this whole hush hush case against me, mind you I was pregnant, and not even HR could give me a reason. About a month and a half later when MetLife was nothing but a distant memory the same supervisor conspired with another ingrate by the name of Janise Baker, who LOVED to constantly talk shit about me to have my boyfriend, who does not even know who they are fired by raising false allegations against him. He doesn’t even work in the same department! or for the same people! Thank god there are cameras so that the dummy in HR can visually see him walking out of the building. It seems that even after that bitch May Ann Wise got what she wanted she still wants more, come to find out she wants me to lose my benefits that I have for my prenantal care under my boyfriend’s insurance. How can her jealousy go so far this woman is in her 50s can she just grow up and leave me alone? She bullied me enough while I was there along with Janise and with the praise of Colleen Cunningham, got me fired, and continues to pursue some other issue with lies lies lies. Bullies are cowards and need to get a life!

  • peopleagainstmetlife

    I worked in a group of jealous catty bitches at MetLife Broker-Dealer Group. The Supervisor went behind my back and made a whole case against me to get me fired at 3 months pregnant. Her excuse “I needed to save my job,” that was her comment to me when I asked her why did she not even allow me a chance to speak. I had been with the company 5 years and this lady was just hired about 7 months ago and instead of learning the departmental processes and functions she dedicated her time there to building a case against me with the help of Robert Costello the manager, whom she apparently went crying to and I had NO CLUE what was going on. Anyways, I got fired because of this whole hush hush case against me, mind you I was pregnant, and not even HR could give me a reason. About a month and a half later when MetLife was nothing but a distant memory the same supervisor conspired with another ingrate by the name of Janise Baker, who LOVED to constantly talk shit about me to have my boyfriend, who does not even know who they are fired by raising false allegations against him. He doesn’t even work in the same department! or for the same people! Thank god there are cameras so that the dummy in HR can visually see him walking out of the building. It seems that even after that bitch May Ann Wise got what she wanted she still wants more, come to find out she wants me to lose my benefits that I have for my prenantal care under my boyfriend’s insurance. How can her jealousy go so far this woman is in her 50s can she just grow up and leave me alone? She bullied me enough while I was there along with Janise and with the praise of Colleen Cunningham, got me fired, and continues to pursue some other issue with lies lies lies. Bullies are cowards and need to get a life!

  • Neptune_z

    My experience with female bullies comes from higher education. It has followed me consistently throughout the last 25 years. It has included a range of bullying, mobbing, assault (e.g., slapping my face), and terrorism (e.g., death threats) from women with PhDs as they responded to stress and protected their promotion paths. I did nothing to warrant the behavior; I just happened to exist and be within striking distance.

  • Neptune_z

    My experience with female bullies comes from higher education. It has followed me consistently throughout the last 25 years. It has included a range of bullying, mobbing, assault (e.g., slapping my face), and terrorism (e.g., death threats) from women with PhDs as they responded to stress and protected their promotion paths. I did nothing to warrant the behavior; I just happened to exist and be within striking distance.

  • OverweightTarget

    It’s important not to associate weight with bullying, as I’ve seen many postings across the web in general talking about ‘miserable fat women bullying pretty thin women’. I am an overweight thirty-something woman who is, nevertheless, considered pretty and easy to get along with. I was targeted in my last job by women much slimmer than I am, but clearly with nothing better to do. They were professional women too, which is very disappointing. I left that job, set up my own company, and have never looked back!

  • OverweightTarget

    It’s important not to associate weight with bullying, as I’ve seen many postings across the web in general talking about ‘miserable fat women bullying pretty thin women’. I am an overweight thirty-something woman who is, nevertheless, considered pretty and easy to get along with. I was targeted in my last job by women much slimmer than I am, but clearly with nothing better to do. They were professional women too, which is very disappointing. I left that job, set up my own company, and have never looked back!

  • OverweightTarget

    It’s important not to associate weight with bullying, as I’ve seen many postings across the web in general talking about ‘miserable fat women bullying pretty thin women’. I am an overweight thirty-something woman who is, nevertheless, considered pretty and easy to get along with. I was targeted in my last job by women much slimmer than I am, but clearly with nothing better to do. They were professional women too, which is very disappointing. I left that job, set up my own company, and have never looked back!

  • OverweightTarget

    It’s important not to associate weight with bullying, as I’ve seen many postings across the web in general talking about ‘miserable fat women bullying pretty thin women’. I am an overweight thirty-something woman who is, nevertheless, considered pretty and easy to get along with. I was targeted in my last job by women much slimmer than I am, but clearly with nothing better to do. They were professional women too, which is very disappointing. I left that job, set up my own company, and have never looked back!

  • anon

    My boss is a small slight framed woman, she is pregnant. Another female manager was talking to her today, they were discussing some changes coming in and my boss said she’d be on maternity leave by then. The woman then looked at her and said gosh your as big as a house started laughing and walked off. My manager was hurt by the comments and some on the team had to tell her she looked well. My manager I believe was bullied by the manager before as i can remember her calling my manager a good girl in a condescending kind of way. She’s a lot bigger than my manager and she’s afraid of her. I know this from one day, the other manager brought a piece of work over to us, but it wasn’t it was for them . So my superviser took it rather than give it back to the superviser, she sneaked it to a girl on her team that would take it. The reason I mention this is because again I don’t know if the lady in question was being condescending and belittling to my manager. My manager would never say a thing like that to another woman. Back to my manager, a colleague noted to me that she’s being bullied by a girl whom she manages on the team, who’s also bigger than her, he told me she’s always talking down to my manager. At a team meeting last week, i did notice the girl try catch my manager on something and her giving my boss dirtyish looks. However I’ve now coped her bullying my boss in other ways. My boss generally goes on lunch with that girl and another girl. She’ll always walk past my boss’es desk and ask the other girl what she’s doin for lunch and not my boss. I’ve now come to notice when I meet them during lunch she doesn’t speak to my boss but generally to the other girl. My boss has to make the conversation. The other day a lady was in with a baby and asked the other girl if she wanted to see it but not my boss. last week she was late for work, she phoned one of our colleagues and not my boss to say where she was, when she came in she apologised to my boss for being late who gave a nervous laugh and said it was ok, whereas if it was one of us we wouldn’t have got that response. I’m sure my boss notices this going on but she may feel powerless and I think somewhat afraid. I feel sorry for my boss as she’s very helpful, professional and intelligent.