Career & Money

Why Women Compete With One Another At Work (and how to stop it)

Elizabeth Lions
By Elizabeth Lions |Dallas, TX

Research has shown us how the deep psychological roots of competitiveness between women. Noam Shpancer, in his article in Psychology Today article entitled, “Feminine Foes: New Science Explores Female Competition”, pointed out clearly the main reason why women compete and disparage each other. He stated when a woman moves into full competition stance, she executes two primary displays: self-promotion and competitor degradation.

As women, we need to stop being barking dogs with one another in the office.In the same article, Psychology Today article entitled, “Feminine Foes: New Science Explores Female Competition”, Joyce Benenson, a researcher at Emmanuel College in Boston chimed in her two cents. Her study around this phenomenon discussed that women in competition showed three unique characteristics. They: #1 Move into aggression that wasn’t physical in order to protect themselves or #2 they purposely did not promote other women who were attractive or #3 resorted to socially alienating other women and excluding them completely.

Unfortunately, all this bad behavior winds up in the office.

Think carefully about the above studies.

Haven’t you seen this sort of behavior with women in the office?

Have you been alienated by another female co-worker or have you alienated one?

Did you ever purposely self-promote and move into a competitive stance when another woman was around?

As women, we need to stop being barking dogs with one another in the office. The constant jealousy and competition has no place in the office and in the long run we end up turning against each other.

The result?

We lose. We lose out on promoting each other and moving into key leadership positions, where we can really make a difference.

The media wants to continue to turn us against men, saying that they have all the power and won’t allow us into leadership roles.

In order to rise to the top, as women leaders, we must identify top female performers, promote each other at work and work well together.


Try this by:

Noticing when a younger woman comes to you, and you recoil out of jealousy;

Coaching another woman, even when you don’t think you have time;

Identifying key women with talent and promoting them to positions of power;

Seeing each woman as your sister, creating unity where there once was division;

Stop talking about the problem, and quietly be the solution;

Stop blaming men as to why you cannot get ahead at work.


So how do we try to move forward?

Moment to moment.

She is you.

When you alienate her, you actually hurt yourself and all of us in the process.


Other articles you may be interested in:

Elizabeth Lions
Elizabeth Lions |Dallas, TX
Elizabeth Lions is a three-time author with the expertise in career counselling and leadership development. Her latest read, “Hear Us Roar – Unapologetic Women Leading In Corporate America” made a splash in 2016. Elizabeth’s coaching specifically addresses women’s confusion around...Read More
View Comments Hide Comments

Leave a Reply