The Politics of Being a Woman on the Job: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By | 2010-08-02T03:21:10+00:00 August 2nd, 2010|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: , |1 Comment

It’s hard enough competing in a job market where there are more qualified candidates than there are open positions but what do you do when your biggest nemesis is another woman abusing you to get to the top?

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute – Zogby survey, women single out other women 71 percent of the time. Women bullies also liked to enlist others to help target and harass other women. Fifty-three percent of the women being targeted suffered serious mental and physical harm as opposed to the 36 percent of the men who were bullied.

A question was posted on LinkedIn Discussion forums asking why women were tougher on other women and 85 percent of responses I received point to women as being more competitive, insecure and more aggressive with other women than they are with men. Others responded to me in a private email, discussing their own experiences with female bosses and coworkers— one man even responded saying, “I don’t know why but I have found it to be absolutely true.”

While not all female workers fall into the bullying category and some LinkedIn responders even shared some stories of positive relationships with their women bosses, many still acknowledged that women-on-women harassment is a prevailing issue in the workplace.

“My experience with women bosses has been awful,” says Margaret P, a print production professional. “It is shameful that some women do not have the skill set to become mentors to other women. I have been considered a threat way too many times in my career. Funny, I’ve never had a man feel that way.”

So it begs the question, why can’t we all just get along?

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About the Author:

Ji Hyun Lee
Ji Hyun Lee is a writer and consultant based in New York, home to one of the most competitive work environments in the country. As a result of this, she uses her work experiences to document a blog about all the ethical dilemmas that arise in the workplace for her website, PoliticsoftheWorkplace.com. In the past, she worked at Forbes.com, DiversityPlus and Asian Diversity magazine. She has an MFA from Columbia University.

One Comment

  1. Renee February 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    This piece and the accompanying articles are interesting and explore an important aspect of workplace relationships.

    But it all seems a bit incomplete because the issues are not examined in any context. Why hasn’t the author explored the question of why women might be more ‘competitive, insecure and aggressive’ in the workplace? Or why women might resport to individual pursuit in the workplace, at the cost of collegial relationships?

    The workplace context is a difficult one for women in particular. There is more than enough evidence to show that women in the workplace are exposed to unequal pay, less secure conditions, violence in the workplace (from men, including sexual harassment), unequal access to leadership and advancement opportunities, and hostile work cultures. This may not justify some of the behaviours the author discusses, but would it help to explain them?

    Cheers – Renee (Australia)

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