A: Figuring out how to handle competitiveness among women is very complex. There are so many mixed messages women receive about their own advancement and the advancement of other women. One of which is whether or not it’s appropriately feminine to want to be successful and achieve. We also still have judgmental reactions towards each other about how we’re supposed to look, how we’re expected to respond and what we’re expected to say. It’s all so grounded in the gender expectations we have about ourselves.
Our behavior is so deeply cultural we need to be in conversation with one another about that reality. We need to say to ourselves, “Whoa, did I really have to comment on what she looked like?” Typically, do groups of men sitting around a conference room table comment on a man’s tie when he leaves the room? No.
We are so hard on one another.
Why are we letting ourselves be controlled by an old system of gender expectations that simply does not work in our favor?
We need to change that. I’ve fortunately had experience in all of the three spaces known to instill women with supportive values towards each other. They are the Girl Scouts; an organized sports team; and a girls’ school or women’s colleges. The influences of these experiences taught me that women are actually my friends and not my enemies. I encourage anyone with a daughter to look into providing her with at least one of these experiences. It may take another generation or two, but we can get there.