Is it time to break the cycle of female rivalry?

  • Is it time to break the cycle of female rivalry?

    Posted by Jodie on 11 September 2023 at 14:35

    Female rivalry happens when a woman uses her power to keep another woman down, mistreats her, or competes unfairly.

    We are interested to hear your thoughts as to whether this still exists and whether you have personally been affected.

    Eleigh Brewer replied 8 months, 3 weeks ago 7 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Nick Snelling

    11 September 2023 at 17:03

    As a Male Ally to Women Empowering Defence, I haven’t personally experienced female rivalry in the way described, but I’ve certainly observed its effects in professional settings, including within the Defence sector. It’s crucial to acknowledge that rivalry, mistreatment, or unfair competition isn’t exclusive to any gender; however, the implications for women can be particularly damaging given the already-existing barriers to entry and advancement in male-dominated fields.

    I believe it’s crucial for everyone, regardless of gender, to support each other in combatting rivalry and promoting fair competition. A culture of inclusivity and mutual respect will not only help to mitigate such behaviours but also contribute to a more equitable and effective workplace.

    So while I can’t speak from personal experience about being affected by female rivalry, I can underscore the importance of allyship in mitigating its impacts and creating a more supportive professional environment.

    • Eleigh Brewer

      19 September 2023 at 13:00

      Interesting that you mention fair competition Nick. One of my recurring thoughts, when thinking about how we tackle D&I issues within Defence (and further afield – I’m a big picture thinker), is how do we ensure fair competition and opportunity?

      For me personally, this is an absolute minefield that creates numerous pathways of thought within my (divergent) brain . It is mostly acknowledged that gender dominance in a particular field has a huge impact on fairness. But what about the additional implications associated with being a particular gender? How do we consider that when attempting to create fairness in accessing opportunities?

      More questions then answers I’m afraid but always food for thought 🙂 My brain has already spiraled into the synergistic affects of gender, race, disability, socioeconomic background etc. on fair competition.

  • Tanya Cantrell

    11 September 2023 at 17:10

    Sadly I agree, I genuinely believe this does happen and is more prolific than we’d like to think. In a world where we preach about fixing other Queen’s crowns when they’ve slipped, being their avid cheerleader or genuinely being happy another woman is doing well for themselves, for every amazing individual who does this, there is the silent enemy holding someone back for either personal or professional gain. Their so called advice and guidance shepherding the unknowing down a specific track or using someone to meet their goals and not yours are the ones to watch. Whether this is down to jealousy, a feeling of inadequacy in their own role or using their power to disrupt or ill-fully influence someone else, this is happening and in extreme cases can be tantamount to bullying.

    These staff members need to called out for their behaviours and get to the root of the disruption.

    I am all up for healthy competition but not to the point where it’s used as a weapon against my competitors.

    • Mary Scudamore-Jenkins

      12 September 2023 at 09:44

      Tanya you’re so right about the cheerleading and “fixing Queen’s crowns” – it’s become, I’d say, quite fashionable to preach this on social media etc. but sadly isn’t always the reality. However, on the flip side of this, I’d also suggest that just because people are of the same gender, doesn’t mean they should automatically join forces – this seems a bit reductive.

  • Shelley Cotterill

    11 September 2023 at 17:17

    In short, unfortunately, I believe it does. We work in an industry where women have had to fight to be heard and taken seriously for such a long time, that there are those women who do feel threatened and will push back to gain the ‘control’ they worked so hard to achieve. They give other women a hard time and the menial tasks ‘because they experienced it, so it’s only fair that they do too’. Rivalry also happens when management create a culture of competition between women in similar roles, often this leads to perceived favouritism and sometimes credit for work being misplaced so instead of building eachother up the women end up trying to tear each other down.

  • Michael Couch

    11 September 2023 at 21:15

    Does it happen – yes it does, I’ve seen it. Its not only one on one either, I’ve seen instances whre a clique combines to undermine an non clique member.

    Is there an answer – if there is I can’t really see it. Short of a massive indoctrination campaign, or prescribing office practices so toghtly that people can’t express themselves or their individuality, there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop it.

    The only suggestion I can make is – as an outsider – to watch to see if its happening to others, and if you see it, think about how youcan best address it (or possibly taking the difficult decision NOT to address it directly, as intervention, however well intentioned, can often turn the situation worse).

  • Mary Scudamore-Jenkins

    12 September 2023 at 09:52

    I think I have been very fortunate to work in teams where this hasn’t been an issue – I’ve always worked in industries that are largely male dominated so, if anything, women have tended to band together and very much root for each other.

    Psychologically speaking, typical patriarchal systems can convince women that resources (in this case, jobs, promotions, opportunities) are limited – e.g. “there’s likely to only be one woman promoted, while the rest of the spots will go to men”, so we’re programmed to compete with each other for these spaces.

    As I said, this hasn’t been my experience, but of course it does happen to lots of women.

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