- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Are we women creating barriers for others?

I recently got back in touch with an old friend and was astonished to learn that she had recently resigned from her position because she was fed up with being subjected to bullying behaviour. The perpetrator was not, as you might think, a man but a woman. And a recent opinion poll on LinkedIn suggested that she was not alone. So, I decided to do a bit of my own research into WOW – women on women bullying.

At a time when women are breaking the glass ceiling in ever greater numbers and young female graduates are clamouring to be fast-tracked into leadership positions this is worrying factor. Are women bullies acting as a barrier to other potential female leaders? Are they forcing their female compatriots out deliberately?

Dorothy Dalton started an opinion poll on LinkedIn because she was concerned that this might just be the case. She has received an overwhelming response from women who have been bullied by other women. She has written several opinion articles about the matter containing insights from lawyers and HR managers. Bitch or Bully: the pink elephant and The Lipstick Jungle: Female Saboteurs.

But hang on, what do we mean by bullying? According to ACAS UK it means any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or degraded or humiliated or offended. The Workplace Bullying Institute defines it as: “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators” they go on to list the various forms. They estimate that 40% of bullies in the US are women.

The women I spoke to had certainly experienced many of these symptoms. One woman was controlled so much by her senior management that she even had to write down her toilet breaks. Another said that colleagues had been told by management not to cooperate with her and she was also denied access to files to enable her to carry out work. One woman joined a company only to be frozen out by the very women who had recruited her. Whatever the tactics it is all the more shocking when coming from another woman who should be acting as role models and providing support for those aspiring to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Aside from the health issues for the victims of bullies it is also significantly harming the bottom line of businesses. So businesse must work harder to foster a culture in which bullies cannot thrive. But we women must act as role models for other younger women too and learn the right skills to manage more appropriately.

The Women’s Academy courses can help you.