Girls against Girls
The women’s movement has given voice to the notion that women are suppressed by the patriarchy. This idea has transcended into the workplace where gender bias has fostered disadvantages that prevent women from career advancement and perpetuate the gender pay gap. These concepts are widely recognized and corporations spend an inordinate amount of resources to try and remedy them. However, the elephant in the room that isn’t widely discussed nor is it taught in diversity training is the treatment of women in the workplace by other women. Quite often what prevents women from accelerating in their careers isn’t about discrimination by men, but rather it is the behavior of women towards other women.
As I reflect on my own career, I have found that more often than not, both my career and my compensation have suffered most at the behest of a female boss. Indra Nooyi former CEO of Pepsi, says that women view other women as competition and most women don’t have enough confidence to allow that competition to exist in their sphere. Women believe that opportunity is a zero sum game and another woman’s gain is their loss. Whenever women feel threatened they seek to eliminate the competition or suppress their advancement. Women struggle to be positive, supportive and respectful of each other’s success – I believe that’s simply called jealousy.
While I can attest this to be true of women from my generation, I have been inspired by the attitude of women from younger generations. I have found that younger women have more sense of sisterhood and align with the mission of connecting women in order to build community. They have a vision that strong and powerful women will hold the door open for other women and we will all ascend together. This sounds like utopia, I know, but idealism has a better chance to create a thriving movement than cynicism. Besides men do this for other men and we should take a page from their playbook.
Here are some ideas that can help our cause:
1. Helping just one woman helps all women just as all ships rise with the tide.
2. It’s our nature to nurture. Peel back the layers of insecurity that threaten us and you will find that our true nature is caring. Allow those characteristics to shine through for one another. These are our best qualities and we shouldn’t suppress them in the workplace.
3. Believing in a woman increases her self-worth. We all need validation sometimes and when others believe in us it increases our self-confidence and we begin to recognize ourselves as having greater value.
4. Cut each other some slack. Instead of rushing to judgement with catty remarks, show each other some kindness.
5. Celebrate each other’s successes – woot woot!