I’m Part of the Problem 

three women looking at the water, women competing against other women

I’m a feminist. I support and encourage women. I love seeing women succeed, climb the ladder and pursue their dreams.

I feel connected to other women. They are all in my tribe. And nothing gets me more hyped than watching other women crush their goals and stand in their power. I love seeing women showing up for themselves unapologetically.

That being said, I fear I’m also part of the problem.

I’m going through a training program with a class of nine. We are all going through training together and will be potentially competing with one another for jobs across the country. There are six women and three men in my class. When I saw the gender makeup of my class, my initial reaction was not excitement. I was scared, nervous and upset that there were a lot more women than men.

I caught myself the other day worrying and being nervous that there were so many more women than men—wishing that it was the opposite. I was genuinely nervous that I would be more likely compared and competing against the other women verses the men. I wouldn’t stand out as much.

I finally snapped myself out of it and realized wow, I’m part of the problem. I think this is how a lot of women feel, and it’s why it takes us longer to climb the ladder compared to men.

I hate that I this initially crossed my mind! The more I thought about it, the more it became clear why. While I would love nothing more than to bond and be best friends with these women and lift each other up, I also know women can be notorious for cutting each other down and being mean to each other in order to get ahead first.

Why is that though? Society tells us, women specifically, that we are in competition with each other. We are competing against each other from the moment we are born — for attention, praise, men, etc.

We are taught from a very young age to be threatened by other girls. We are taught that another woman’s success or happiness means failure and unhappiness for us. We weren’t taught to work as a team and help each other get to the top.

And that is so warped! A win for any woman, especially one I’m working alongside of, is a win for me too.

The only solution I have for anyone who has felt this way is to be very conscience about how we think, catch ourselves when we want to compete vs. collaborate with other women.  I think it’s so important that when we have these moments of insecurity with other women and make a conscious effort to shift our mindset.

So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m changing my mindset, and I’m going to keeping working hard to catch myself when I have similar thoughts again. It’s exciting that the majority of my class, in a very prestigious program, are women! It means change is actually happening in this country, and women are being recognized for their intelligence and ability. And, I’m going to work to communicate this mission to other women who are still trapped in the societal norm of feeling threatened. We are stronger together.

“She Speaks” is an anonymous blog series that allows women to share their stories without revealing their identity. It is designed to make sure that all women’s voices are being heard and is not a forum for passive aggressive bullying or anonymous bashing, of a person, group or company. If you want to submit a post to She Speaks, visit http://www.sheinthecle.com/she-speaks/. 

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I give a voice to the women who are concerned about sharing their story publicly. My mission is to give a voice to the women who want to start conversations, but who are concerned with sharing their identity, for one reason or another. My posts don’t reveal personal details that can identify particular people nor do I promote bullying or bashing others. I am designed to give women who can’t share their names an equal voice in the important conversations we are having at She In The CLE. Want me to share your story? Submit a post at http://www.sheinthecle.com/she-speaks/.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great post/subject.

    Over the years, I have applied for dozens of writing and editing jobs via LinkedIn, where I see the person who will receive my profile. Only one woman has replied despite my many qualifications.

    After a former classmate who’s headed an employment agency for years sent me on an interview and I didn’t get the job, she — a 50-something-year-old black woman who undoubtedly knows a little bit about discrimination — said she believed I was discriminated against due to the fact I’m an attractive woman with blonde hair and a pretty smile.

    What people don’t know is that’s how they see me — it isn’t how I usually see myself. Like many women, I’ve struggled with low self-esteem my entire life, courtesy of my father and boyfriends. So imagine what it’s like to go back to school, double major, graduate summa cum laude, finally feel good about yourself, and get turned down for job after job because women you’d be working with feel too threatened by you to hire you. I hope hiring managers will read this and think twice before dismissing someone over her smile.

  • I really want to thank you for writing this post. It’s not easy to be this honest and yet I really think this is a critical part of what holds women back. Not only do women discriminate against other women, but they are often far worse than men. It’s a subject that gets little attention. I also think it’s particularly insidious because it seems to be such a deeply innate, emotionally driven behavior. I find it really difficult to stop myself from these intensely negative feelings towards other women. Like you though, I try to be very conscious of these negative feelings and try to keep them from affecting my working relationship with other women.

    I think that acknowledging and exploring the subject of women discriminating against other women is a critically important step in achieving equality.

  • Unfortunately Mean Girls just isn’t a movie. We’ve all been abused by our fellow females and have the emotional scars to prove it. I wish we could all be nicer to each other! With cooperation and collaboration we ALL win. And let’s stop all the backstabbing and talking shit behind each other’s backs too while we’re at it.

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