Mean Girls at Work

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It’s upsetting to even have to write this post but it’s been on my mind for some time. Without giving away my anonymity I will let you know that I am a female. Throughout my career, it seems as though some of the worst managers I’ve had and colleagues for that matter have been female.

Bullying is not new to me. When my parents moved out of the city and into suburbia I was bullied as a young kid. It was probably par for the course as I was new and my parents both worked which was different than the stay at home mom situation many other kids at the time had. It’s hard to get a kid plugged into a new school system when you work all the time and aren’t plugged in yourself to the new surroundings. That said, I spent many times at recess hiding from other girls who would chase me and call me names. I figured out the dynamic in my own way eventually and became friends with other girls who are still some of my best friends today.

In my 20ish years in the work force it doesn’t seem much has changed. If you ask women and men who they would rather work for many times they’ll say a man. They say that it’s because “men just want you to get the job done and women nit-pick”. I know I’m not supposed to say it but could there possibly be some truth in the stereotype? Is there a such thing as a book like Queen Bees and Wannabees, work place edition?

It seems that sometimes women colleagues are our worst allies and the worst part is I believe that they get away with it more often then men. In so many cases if a man is harassing a female at work you can go to HR and the matter is taken seriously. While in both cases the victim may be afraid to report the matter, in the case of female vs female, the matter is not taken as seriously. We are told that while bullying may be uncomfortable, it is not illegal.

There are things that women have said to my friends and I that a man has never ventured to say. Sure, I’ve had a clueless male manager once ask a coworker “when she was due” but it seems to be the women who critique how one should look and dress at work and a woman who once asked my friend “where she would possibly fit another kid” in her company car or how she would “manage to get the kids off to school before work”. It seems sometimes as though the work place has turned into a sorority of sorts where an initiation period takes place before you are accepted into the flock. I am tired of it.   Why are we harder on each other than anyone else? I’ve seen companies lose valuable employees because there was a miserable woman at the helm that HR couldn’t seem to figure out how to convict of any wrong doing. Why are (we) women so hard on each other? I appreciate the #metoo movement but let’s not forget about #shetoo. While we have training for sexual harassment, discussions on inclusion for sexual orientation and religion have we lost sight of issues within our own gender? As women we are told to Lean In and we are told about things like work place Broappropriation and now we are even given training on what to look out for in the case of a mass shooter but what about taking the twig out of the our own eye before checking the speck in someone else’s?

I have had wonderful female managers and I understand that it may be the luck of the draw with who you get. All I can tell you is that almost everyone I have spoken to has been through this situation with a female boss or colleague and the only resolution is to hope the person leaves or you leave first. We all ask each other why women are hardest on each other.  Might it be because they CAN be? Because the work culture allows for this to happen by not taking female harassment seriously since it’s mostly non sexual in nature? Is the area so grey and vague that simply nothing can be done about it in the work place? It’s time for a change.

7 thoughts on “Mean Girls at Work

  1. I think you nailed it when you said that men just want the job done, whereas women generally have the tendency to nit-pick. As a female I hate to say it, but my male bosses have been the best–high expectations, the willingness to point out opportunities for improvement, and more of a “let’s put aside our differences and work as a team” mentality. I like to think that I’ve developed my leadership skills around what I say work (in these male leaders), but it’s hard to know if some ingrained tendencies might be standing in the way. Very interesting article–thanks for sharing!

  2. I used to be in the Army, working predominately around men, then I switched professions and am now a Registered Nurse. Huge world of difference in how it is working with mostly men and in how it is working with mostly women. I find that women are much more inclined to gossip, the men seem to speak directly to each other about their dissatisfaction. It was easier working around men than it is working around mostly women…definitely a culture shock! I have found that the best way to navigate this is to just stay out of it. I don’t tell too much about myself, I don’t ever say anything about anyone else, and I try to be a neutralizer when people try to engage me in negative conversations. Be a rock, rocks don’t burn 🙂

    1. First, thank you so much for your service! Second, thank you for checking out my blog and for your thoughtful comment. I agree on staying out of it but it’s not always easy to do so…especially when you are the one who is targeted. I try to “put my head down and just do my job” as they say. My first job was also very much male dominated and you could say it was easier because it was my first job but it also had very much to do with who I worked with. I like the rock analogy. Also agree on avoiding gossip and pettiness. It is just so trite.

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