Getting From Women Vs. Women to Women Supporting Women
Women in technology is not only a huge trend, it’s an important movement for the progression of women in a perceived male-dominated environment. The gender pay gap is slowly but surely closing and we are being treated with more respect.
So why is it that some women often find other women the most difficult people to work with?
I am incredibly lucky. I work for a wonderfully inspiring boss who happens to be a female, and all my colleagues–both male and female–are a complete pleasure to work with. At Ivanti, I am surrounded by passionate and smart people who support each other to be stronger and more confident in the workplace.
But according to some of the articles I read and the ladies I speak to, not all of us are this lucky. And I was interested to learn why.
The Biological and Ecological Link
Joyce Benenson, a psychologist at Emmanuel College in Boston, has written several papers on relationships and how we act due to biological and ecological factors.
Benenson argues that women are evolutionary predestined to not collaborate with non-relation females. She also believes that women can undermine each other due to the fact that they have always had to compete for mates and resources. In the very distant past, helping another woman may have caused hunger for your own offspring, or worse yet, it may have caused no offspring.
I feel that we have definitely moved on from that, but it is certainly an interesting concept!
I have heard some ladies speak of experiences of sabotage or someone taking all the credit for their work, and I understand that it can hurt more when it was a female who did it. Your own gender – How could she?! How about the envy we sometimes feel when comparing ourselves to another woman? Perhaps she is a better presenter, negotiates heels better than you or just has an impressive Instagram feed that leaves you feeling super green.
I honestly think it’s time to look past that and realize that there is no benefit to envy. Why not just see those skills as a goal for you to work towards? And the Instagram account? I feel envious of my online self all the time. Let it go!
Here are some tips on how to combat the women vs. women hurdle and turn it into a women support women situation:
- Take control of the situation. Feeling envious, annoyed or any other negative emotion about a colleague won’t help make you feel any better. Comparing yourself with others creates a scenario which makes you feel inferior. Take a step back and try to understand why you feel a certain way. This will help you to let go and focus on yourself!
- “The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” I love this quote from Iyanla Vanzant, an author and life coach. This quote really speaks to me and inspires me to support all the great ladies around me. It makes me think about being a nurturer, a sponsor and a mentor, not a competitor.
- Focus on collaboration. You remember those skills you were envious of? Why not collaborate with the person who has those skills. Present together, ask for some training or mentorship and champion each other.
- Don’t get involved. One thing I learned very early on in my career is not to get involved in gossip or badmouthing others. Take the high road; you’ll feel better for it!
- Join a Women in Technology Network. I find these networking groups so inspiring. There is nothing better than watching women openly supporting and lifting each other up. Ivanti has a Women in Technology network. Check us out on Twitter @TheTechieGirls and be sure to check our Women in Tech blog section!