Why Women Betray Other Women at Work



Working women and mothers are the norm these days. But as the number of professional women increases, so do the proverbial elephants in the office. The issue that no one seems eager to discuss is the phenomenon of women sabotaging each other in the workplace…and why they do it.

Professional men have been merrily swiping at each other for years and somehow manage to attribute the competition to ‘business and nothing personal’. But when it comes to women, it seems most of the stabbing is done in the back. We get opposing messages from the workplace about being ambitious and successful. In addition, we’re caught between ambition and social views of femininity. A working woman may subvert her competitive nature for more passive forms of aggression, because they’re afraid of coming across as ‘bad women’, as if women should always be bonding together and supporting one another. This fear not only keeps women from addressing the issue, but is also the crux of the problem. Women often still get strong messages that in our relationships with each other, we must put the other woman before ourselves… that’s one way.

Then you get some women, who think and act just like men and want to excel professionally and don’t give a damn about being kind or a generous person and prefer to fight dirty. They will tell lies, hide work or withhold critical information, finger point and blame you for mistakes that are not of your making to the big bosses. They’re nice to your face, while boldly presenting your ideas as their own behind your back…this of course happened to me personally by a much older woman at my job who was very envious, jealous, spiteful and petty, due to me being much younger and I had the job that she unsuccessfully campaigned for.

So what is the cause, aside from the aforementioned, coupled with professional ambition which causes women to clash so fiercely at work? We can argue all day long about differences in race and class for bringing working women into conflict. There’s also competition over looks and sexual appeal if you can believe that! I’ve laughingly witnessed this firsthand. Such as co-workers being jealous of the attention you get in the workplace by the men on staff. The first step to dealing with a difficult female at work? Communication.

Women can begin by talking about this with each other. The office environment is built around confrontation, and women must learn to engage in it with respect and full disclosure. Women should learn to fight their urge to share too much with female colleagues, a trait that can make them vulnerable. Emotional availability should be an asset, not a detriment, and competition can be healthy. Women can strike the balance between ambition and collaboration in part by discarding the old lie that competition is for men. Here are some tips if you feel that you’re at risk of being betrayed by a female colleague: you protect yourself hopefully without making enemies.

  • As stated before, communication is key, deal with problems openly and directly
    Remember, being respected isn’t the same as being liked…you don’t have to be friends with other women on the job…lord knows I’m not, but I remain friendly.
  • Keep the professional, professional: revealing too much can make you vulnerable. This isn’t high school and there’s no need to share every intimate detail of your private life with colleagues.
  • Be sensitive to personality and value differences: before jumping to judge, put yourself in her shoes. Just because you’re both women doesn’t mean you think and act alike.
  • Be generous with your time, your knowledge, and your resources: Teach the women who come under you how to handle conflict and to work together respectfully.
  • But don’t be a punk! Stand up for yourself! I’ve had to in the past with colleagues and bosses alike on several occasions! However, be respectful, but be heard…no workplace I know offers the “Biggest Doormat” award. Try not to get stepped on.

    1. Life is a competition, or do you people not know that? It is nobody’s job to help you along the way in work or anything else. People network and associate with each other in other gain from another, not because they want to see the other person get ahead. Get over this Kumbaya mess and learn to hop over those who stand in your way. They are only doing what is in their own best interest. Now you do the same.

    2. I disagree, life is a journey not a competition and those who feel that way are ususally left unfulfilled…hence the need to keep competing. I was once told that a Black female is the worst boss you could ever have BUT in my life experiences they have been some of the BEST bosses I’ve ever had. Taking the time to mentor and share their wealth of knowledge is admirable. Yes, some of us are super competitive but I don’t believe that that pays off in the long run. As far as promotions are concerned…What God has for me is for me. He has made me well equipped to obtain and has placed many SISTAS (and non-sistas) on my path to help me along the way.
      You can acheive your own peronal goals within your career path AND help others without selling yourself short. I’ve seen it many many times.

    3. It’s just not professional women in offices who are back-stabbing other women. You can find animosity and jealousy in a warehouse/factory or a cafeteria. A grocery store or shoe/clothing store. Yes in deed, there’s a war/battle: any color woman vs. any color woman. Competion takes on a helluva meaning in the workplace. Females stoop lower than dirt for recognition raises. Women will have affairs with their bosses (these days it could be w/ a male or female boss) and she’ll wear tighter clothes. It doesn’t dawn on her that she’s really belittling herself but if advancing in her career and receiving more money is her goal, then let the back-stabbing begin.

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