- The Recruiting Life
- Why do women bully women at work?
Why do women bully women at work?
The Queen Bee Syndrome is real.
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In this issue:
CHART: The Gender Pay Gap
According to Census Bureau data analysed by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the gender wage gap stood at 20.3 percent for Americans without a high school degree and grew to roughly 30 percent for workers with a college degree or higher. Even straight out of college, the EPI finds, women get paid $4.50 less per hour than their male peers.
Why Do Women Bully Women at Work?
I have often heard about the glass ceiling as it pertains to women being blocked from advancing to the higher levels of professional success. From what I have heard, often, the reasons for the inequity is male privilege and discrimination. Is that true? At first glance, there certainly seems to be credible evidence for that assertion although there is some progress being made. As of December 7, 2022, women run more than 9.4% of Fortune 500 companies, with 47 women serving as CEOs. In January 2023, the number of female CEOs increased to 53, which is more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies for the first time in history. But why aren’t the scales more gender-balanced in the C-suite? Some would say there are a myriad of reasons, chief among them: unequal pay, stress and burnout, starting a family, and caregiving responsibilities. Yet, after flipping through Netflix, I think there may be another reason – bullying.
Check out these movie clips, the first one from the movie – The Devil Wears Prada.
And this one – Mean Girls
If you take out the over-the-top entertainment from the clips, you see components of the phenomenon known as Queen Bee Syndrome, where women who report to women experience a greater frequency of bullying, abuse, and job sabotage. Why does it happen? Well, women who target other women do so because they feel threatened and insecure, and their biggest fear is another woman will take their position. Another reason is “pathological envy and internalized misogyny” (especially in the HR industry) according to these comments from the Substack – Hacking Narcissism.
There were many more comments available on that page. As I read them, it also became apparent that Women may sabotage one another because they feel that helping their female co-workers could jeopardize their own careers; something also reported on here. Hmm… This issue seems like one of those things I am the last to learn about. Did you know that research from the Workplace Bullying Institute found that a third of workplace bullies were women? And that’s not the only stat I found. A 2011 survey of legal secretaries found that not one of them wanted to work with female partners. Among the reasons given was that they were treated in a demeaning fashion, serving as “a punching bag.” And according to Forbes, in 2012, women are “the worst kind of bullies,” apparently more vicious and nastier than their male counterparts. Interesting. It sort of makes me wonder what would happen if a company employed only women, or focused on a female-only IT department? How would the queen bee dynamic play out then? But I digress.
There are typical workplace bullying behaviors like verbal abuse, physically intimidating someone, and/or making fun of someone in front of others or humiliating them in public. Women bullies however tend to be more subtle in their tactics. A few examples of how female bullies harass their victims are…
Exclusion from social events or conversations.
Spreading rumors or gossiping about them.
Criticizing their work or ideas in public.
Taking credit for their work or ideas.
Undermining their authority or position.
Micromanaging their work or setting unrealistic expectations.
Making condescending or belittling comments.
Withholding information or resources they need to do their job.
Sabotaging their work or projects.
Using nonverbal behavior such as glaring, rolling eyes, or making faces.
Dealing with bullying from other women at work can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help. Here are some tips for responding to bullying from other women at work that I found online:
Document the bullying: Keep a record of all interactions and any instances of bullying or harassment, no matter how minor they may seem.
Confront the bully: Politely but firmly assert the right to be treated with respect and make it clear that you won't tolerate any form of bullying or harassment
Seek support: Talk to a trusted colleague, friend, or family member about what you're experiencing.
Report the bullying: If the bullying persists, consider reporting it to a supervisor, HR representative, or other authority figure.
Take care of yourself: Practice self-care by engaging in activities that make you feel good, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
Seek professional help: If the bullying is affecting your mental health, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.
It's important to remember that women responding to bullying from other women at work can be a complex and emotionally charged situation. It's essential to prioritize your well-being and seek support when needed and that goes for men as well as women. Sigh.
I solicited on social media that I was looking for queen bee testimonials and received significantly more incoming comments than I thought I would. One person, Anonymous Woman #1 (AW1), related how her boss would assign her projects and then, undermine her at every turn.
AW1 went on to say...
When I asked AW1 about the long-term effects of that abuse, she added...
AW #1 was not the only woman to reach out to me.
And another report.
And another report where I include a direct quote from anonymous woman #4.
I received a lot of interest on this topic. So much so, I've decided to write a follow-up article for the next issue of this newsletter. Stay tuned for that. In the interim, take some solace in the fact that some people see this as a serious issue. Case in point, there is a national grassroots movement to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) in U.S. states. Its goal is to prevent and correct abusive work environments in American workplaces. You can read about it here. Should all go well, it will become a law similar to the "Act to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment in Puerto Rico," which was the first workplace bullying law in the United States.
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The Jim Stroud Show
The Forrest Gump of the Recruiting World
(I was interviewed on the Recruitment Unplugged show and discussed my career and insights into the recruitment industry. Yay!)
Join us on a riveting journey with @JimStroud a man who turned his Hollywood dreams into a remarkable career in the recruiting world. In this episode, Jim shares his incredible journey from aspiring director and writer to becoming a renowned figure in the recruiting industry. With a career spanning over two decades, Jim has worked with giants like Microsoft, Google, and Randstad Sourceright, leaving an indelible mark in the industry. Dive deep into Jim’s innovative strategies, his love for creativity, and the importance of networking in the ever-evolving recruitment landscape. Don’t miss out on the inspiring story of a man who found his true calling and became a beacon of innovation in the HR world.
The Jim Stroud Podcast
Pay Equity: Does everyone deserve the same salary?
Jim Stroud interviews Robert Sheen, CEO of Trusaic about the state of pay equity, pay transparency, and what companies are doing to achieve pay equity. There is also some debate on if companies should pay everyone the same when some employees work harder, and are more talented, than others. |
Comic: Employee Benefits
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