Women Help Each Other. What Is This Unicorn They Speak Of?

You are a woman that has fought her way to the top. Your day started once the kids were asleep when you finally had a few hours to work. You spent hours manipulating your schedule to ensure you were at PTA and home by 6:00 PM for dinner. All this while blowing them away in the board room. It hasn’t been easy but you kept powering through. Finally, you have earned your seat at the table. You go girl!

All of a sudden another women makes headway and instead of showing her the ropes, you turn into a high school sophomore during lunch period. She wanders over to sit at your table and you reply with, “So sorry sweetie but losers sit at that table.” Manipulation, degradation and backstabbing are your hindrances of choice. Whether that be in the form of not championing a maternal leave policy or dismissing her ideas at a meeting, you have no desire to see this woman succeed.

Unfortunately, there are more out there just like you, a lot more. According to a 2010 Workplace Bullying Survey 80% of women that bully in the workplace are bullying other women. A 2007 Workplace Bullying Institute survey reports that female bullies are repeatedly involved subtle forms of bullying like sabotage (53.7 percent of female vs. 39.9 percent of male bullies) and abuse of authority (50.2 percent vs. 44.7 percent).

Take a moment and let those numbers settle in…

I have run across my fair share of Queen Bees in the workforce. The fact that I am a millennial woman seems to make the encounters even more frequent. According to a Unison Trade Union survey, young women are particularly at risk of bullying and the most usual offenders are older women in more senior professional positions. Unhappily, I generally avoid building relationships with women in the workplace. While there have been a few incredible exceptions to the rule, overall working for or with other women has proven to make my journey much more difficult than it should be.

When you have finally wrapped your brain around the fact that as women, we are sabotaging each other, consider this; women working full time in the United States were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 21 percent in 2014. This number, coupled with the findings above makes me question, are men really responsible for such few women holding senior executive positions—or are we digging our own career graves? If so, how can we stop?

1: Stop Taking all the credit

Remember earlier when we were patting you on the back for working your way to the top? Take the time to think about the other women who enabled you to make that journey. Your sitter, dry cleaner, predecessor, mother, sister, friend, etc. Somewhere another woman helped you achieve your goal. Instead of boasting about how incredible you are, take the time to give the credit where it is due.

2: Build our own confidence

Confident women do not hate. Simple. If you are tearing someone down you are either a psychopath that loves to see others hurt or you do not have enough confidence and feel threatened. Take some time to develop in whatever arena you do not feel 100 percent. Whether that be leadership development, time management or even the gym. Find a way to feel good about you that does not involve tearing others down.

3: Select a mentee

Earlier I mentioned there have been a few exceptions to my “no work with woman” rule. One day I heard an incredibly brilliant woman speak at a seminar I attended. A few days after I emailed her asking if I could buy her a drink. She barely knew who I was and I knew she would think I was crazy. To my surprise I received an enthusiastic response and a few days later, I walked into the restaurant and there she was. I sat down and asked, “Will you mentor me?” Completely out of the blue and as straight forward as it is written. She took a couple seconds (which felt like an eternity to me) and replied, “I would love to.” A couple months later she handed me an option to start my own business. It is worth noting she is a Gen Xer. Apparently not all women over 35 hate Millennials. In short, everyone should mentor. Take the time to share your hard earned knowledge with someone.

Will I one-day look forward to working with other women as whole? I hope so. I just need to get enough women to take off their Queen Bee crowns and starting building something great together.

photo credit: Unicorn via photopin (license)

How These 5 Badass TV Career Women Inspire Our Real Lives

Every year, TV series creators bring us new career women to admire. Instead of tough, cutthroat caricatures, writers create complex women who thrive in a variety of fields. We watch them navigate boardrooms, courtrooms, and tricky office politics. Through it all, they continually inspire.

Take a look at five of our favorite badass TV career women and all the great reasons to emulate them in real life.

  1. Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) – “Sex and the City”

Even though this show is off the air, Samantha remains a kickass icon we admire. She is a smart, bold woman in the PR industry. Through every episode, and both movies, we see her as a woman full of ambitions and no apologies. She believes in her right to live by the same rules as men—both in the workplace and in the bedroom. Women everywhere admired her success, sexy power suits, uncensored language, and general cougar-y awesomeness.

There’s a scene in “Sex and the City” where Sam tells off sexist hotel tycoon Richard Wright (James Remar), then escapes to the elevator just before her tears fall. No matter how tough you are, there are moments when cruel and unjust people will get to you. What Samantha showed us was how to live through them, shake it off, and land the job anyway.

  1. Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) – “Major Crimes”

Captain Raydor works for the LAPD, supervising a large squad of officers—most of whom are men. When she leaves work, she takes on the role of mother to adult children, as well as a teen foster son with a troubled past. She’s the empress of multi-tasking, handling a staggering amount of responsibility with wisdom and poise.

Sharon provides a great example of how to use the patience and empathy learned from motherhood and apply it to her work life. This does not prevent her from coldly manipulating violent suspects or efficiently smacking Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey) down when he gets out of line. Sharon shows that a woman can blend her nurturing side into work without being reduced to a stereotypical “mommy” figure.

  1. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) – “Elementary”

Dr. Watson is not squeamish about anything. She can handle creepy criminals, drug addicts, gunshot-wound victims, and sitting on Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) questionable furniture while wearing chic designer clothes. She maintains a cool and placid demeanor in the most horrifying situations, only letting the emotions out when absolutely necessary.

Joan’s most admirable gift is following her instincts, an asset to her job and life. Her unusual path from surgeon to sober companion led to her current job as consultant detective. She ignored outside doubts and criticism and followed her gut to find her true calling.

  1. Iris West (Candice Patton) – “The Flash”

Iris is the perfect example of taking initiative and believing in yourself. She capitalizes on the connection she has to a speedy superhero and turns a self-published blog into a fledgling journalism career. The “Picture News” gig isn’t her dream job, but she’s willing to put in the hard work to move up the ranks.

Iris teaches us that persistence pays off. Despite the fact that everyone in her life feels compelled to repeatedly lie to her, Iris pushes hard enough to get to the truth. She never gives up on a story, on friendship, or on love. She might want to give up her totally inappropriate work wardrobe, though.

  1. Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) – “Suits”

Donna possesses a pride in her work that is greatly lacking in today’s world. She’s not worried about what her title is or if she’s making a million dollars. If she’s going to be someone’s executive assistant, she’s going to be the best one she can be. The kind of assistant that causes a hot, uber-confident law partner to have panic attacks the moment she leaves his side.

There is a lot of satisfaction in being good at your job. Donna shows us how to be clever, powerful, needed, and respected at work, no matter where you rank in the hierarchy.

These five women not only survive in their work, they thrive. Each one uses her individual strengths to succeed, and they adapt to meet any challenges. Even though these are fictional characters, we can still be motivated and inspired by them and several other leading ladies to make our own careers better.

Photo Credit: Iowa Public Television via Compfight cc