We all know it happens. But, at the pinnacle of success, it seems even more incomprehensible. Sabotage by another woman? Why? We trained hard. We are that good. We’ve even earned the respect of male colleagues. So why the full-on strike in the face?
Author Bonnie Marcus wrote about women sabotaging other women in Forbes in her article, The Dark Side of Female Rivalry In the Workplace And What To Do About It. She explained that some women attack other women because of their own insecurity. They may lack confidence in their own ability and worry that they might not attain their own career goals. Other times, it is the fear that another woman will be a threat especially if that woman is both beautiful and intelligent.
Women often attack other women according to Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, co-authors of Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional when Things Get Personal because they can’t reconcile the need to be overtly kind and nurturing, with the truth of being covertly jealous, envious, and competitive.
Author Susan Shapiro Barash in her book, Tripping the Prom Queen, points out that competition can be healthy if it is not out of jealousy. But, women have childhood fairytales stories ingrained in their minds like those of Snow White or Cinderella, in which we learn that beautiful and talented women need to be destroyed.
Like every issue that needs to be changed, the first step is recognizing that there is a problem. Women need to collaborate and mentor each other to be successful. We need to stop comparing ourselves and secretly seething. We need to acknowledge that emotional festering leads to consumption of our energy and ultimately, our loss of power. To succeed, we need to build a power network to protect our reputation by aligning with mentors, sponsors, influencers and key decision makers. We need to remember to advocate for ourselves and speak up when we see injustice. We need to build confidence, take control and document our accomplishments. And, above all else, we need to be positive role models for other women while offering praise. After all, if one of us wins, we all win.