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.