It’s a known fact that men and women, for the most part, communicate differently. Think of the book series, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. Women feel anger the same as men do but often portray it in a different manner. Women tend to use different strategies of aggression versus the aggression strategies demonstrated by men. Males are more physically aggressive, exhibiting overt, direct behaviors, while females traditionally resort to more indirect forms of behavior, less physical in nature.
Indirect aggression is,
“when social skills develop, even more sophisticated strategies of aggression are made possible, with the aggressor being able to harm a target person without even being identified.”
What’s even more fascinating is, some women may not even be aware of or know why they exhibit indirect aggressive behaviors. Ultimately, many women may even refuse to believe that they exhibit indirect and passive-aggressive types of behavior toward other women.
“The concept of allyship is to be inclusive of everyone. An ally is to unite or form a connection or relationship between. Allyship is to be in supportive association with another person or group.”
Female rivalry on its own is a big deal but when it hits the workplace it escalates to a whole new level. Not only can it occur from someone who has control over your pay or promotional path - it’s a negative behavior that’s hard to identify and creates a toxic work environment. In addition to impacting the targeted female – it influences the behaviors of the group, as a whole (this means men too). As a result, good women walk, and ultimately, bad behavior is rewarded.
“Female rivalry is one woman minimizing another woman so they both feel small – smaller than they really are. Female rivalry hurts individuals, teams and organizations.” -Dr. Amber Tichenor, PhD
A toxic work environment is no place for great workers – they just don’t survive. An organization’s culture can foster aggression, competition and rivalry. Likewise, it can promote solidarity and trust. The crux of female rivalry behaviors in a working environment is negative organizational culture and a lack of psychological safety. Female rivalry is the outcome of these larger issues.
So how does male allyship and mean girls come into play?
“According to a 2021 study, women who believe they have strong allies at work feel a greater sense of inclusion and more energy and enthusiasm on the job.”
Allyship is important in making sure that everyone is not only invited to the table but is also heard, acknowledged, and recognized for their contributions. As quoted in a 2018 HBR article,
“Evidence shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.”
Women feel alone when they experience female rivalry. When it happens at work, there’s a lot of fear and doubt of who to trust or turn to, for support. There’s also a lot of shame associated with this behavior. Shame that she didn’t stand up for herself, that she let it happen, and that she lost her voice.
Tips for men to engage and be better allies to women at work:
Speak out. Let people know you’re an ally.
Don’t be a bystander. Call it out if you see people abusing power with others.
Promote self-awareness. Look inward. Recognizing how you think and behave uncovers biases.
Gender bias. Learn about gender stereotypes and perceptions that people exhibit, consciously or unconsciously, and be mindful of yours.
Growth mindset. Take challenges and learn from them.
Understand the unique issues women face. Female rivalry, sexual harassment, glass ceiling, gendered ageism, mental load (work plus managing a household + family).
Foster supportive allyships. Do things differently – not just what you’re used to doing. Mentor. Establish a male allies group.
You already are. It’s time TO BE.♥️
P.S. Stay tuned for my blog out next week about how to spot red flags with co-workers.
I say that it’s time to be different. It’s time to talk about what female rivalry is, to know how to break it down one action at a time.
⁉️Interested in learning how ‘female rivalry’ impacts the workplace? 🎉DOWNLOAD my FREE .pdf guide, ‘5 Reasons WHY Good Women Walk’ to learn more!