Women, by nature, are territorial. We were bred to be protective Mama Bears, and when we feel we or someone we love is being threatened, well, watch out, because the kraken is going to be unleashed.
But I’m not talking about someone judging your outfit or someone talking bad about your friend behind their back. I’m talking about at the workplace (even though those things happen at the workplace, too).
Women can be nasty (yes, pun intended). We can be catty, competitive and cut-throat. But why are we like this? We do we constantly feel the need to one-up one another at the office? Why do we constantly tear each other down when in all actuality, we should be lifting each other up, especially in today’s world?
As women, we want workplace equality. We deserve it. And I’m not just talking about pay. I’m talking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But if we want respect, we must band together, not bully each other.
Side note: I actually read that it will take 217 YEARS to achieve workplace equality. That’s unacceptable.
But I get it. The office is a competitive place, especially for women, and Queen Bee syndrome is inherent.
According to Catalyst, in 2015 and 2016, women only held 5.2% of CEO positions at S&P companies in the U.S. and made up 20.2% of board seats of Fortune 500 companies, even though they were nearly half (46.8%) of the labor force.
If you want to get to the top, you have to kick women to the bottom, right, because there’s not room for all us at the corner office? And don’t forget to use a sharp stiletto while you’re at it.
Do you see what’s happening? We are trying to earn respect, vying for a seat at the conference table, but instead, we’re instilling fear, hate and mistrust in our female colleagues. We’re sabotaging each other’s success and perpetuating gender-based stereotypes.
In a study published in the journal Gender in Management, researchers discovered “females believed that other women are good managers, but the female workers did not actually want to work for them.”
Sadly, I can admit to believing that — and saying it out loud — because I’ve been bullied by a female colleague, enough that it made me quit a job I loved, one that I was great at, even though in my performance review the opposite was stated.
There are a few distinct types of female bullies at the office and I’m sure you have met all of them.
The Straightforward Bully
This is the woman who doesn’t give a you-know-what about how she treats you. She flaunts her verbal abuse and belittles you in front of your peers. She may be a lovely woman at home that reads sweet bedtime stories to her children every night, but at the office, she makes you curl up in the fetal position under your desk and sob until you hyperventilate.
The Passive Aggressive Bully
This bully, in my opinion, is much worse than the Straightforward Bully because with the Straightforward Bully at least you know are being bullied. The Passive Aggressive Bully gets in your head with subtly rude emails and remarks. She makes you question your sanity because one day she brings you Starbucks and a hot croissant and then the next day she leaves your yogurt on your desk to sour, so you don’t disturb her when you come into the office 10 minutes late.
The Backstabbing Bully
And last but not least, the Backstabbing Bully. To me, this is the easiest bully to manage because it’s so obvious what they are going to do. However, that first time they bamboozle you really sucks, but at least you learn your lesson!
When people talk about women in the workplace, we’re either bitches or we’re bullies. Isn’t it time we reframed the conversation?
It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to be threatened by one another. We don’t have to compete against each other. We don’t have to fight each other.
We can work together, overcome these stereotypes, and truly create equality in the workplace. But until we acknowledge this gender gap at the workplace isn’t just about men, that it’s about us too, we will never be able to change the statistics and command the respect we deserve.