Her Success is Not Your Failure: Why don’t Women Support Each Other?

Image courtesy of feministelizabethan.blogspot.com

The following is a topic I felt extremely compelled to write about. Why is it that women have such a hard time supporting one another? I must be frank; my personal opinion on why we tend not to advance as far as men is the fact that we will not help one another.

I remember back when I was younger if I went to a video or a photo shoot, I would meet a female. We would get along, strike up great conversation and then we would exchange numbers. Anytime I exchanged numbers with a male (straight or homosexual) I would always be able to follow up with them. We could talk, bounce ideas off one another, perhaps they would recommend a book or someone I should look into who may serve as a mentor or someone who is knowledgeable about the topic at hand.

Anytime I exchanged numbers with a female, they would ignore my texts, calls or Facebook messages. It didn’t even matter if we looked nothing alike (for music video or photo shoot purposes) or if we took an interest in different topics (I’d prefer to be an entertainment correspondent and she could have been a news correspondent). Regardless of the fact that we may not have been in direct competition, the texts would never move past “Hey” once I began to discuss ideas or resources. Till this day it still irks me, as I could never truly understand, “Why?”

A politician by the name of Madeleine Albright once said, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Although I am not exactly sure what prompted her to say those exact words, I am pretty sure it came from feeling that women are underrepresented in places of power and authority due to the simple fact that we are not as willing to help one another.

There have been numerous articles written in relation to the business world and how females are less inclined to help out other women in the industry. According to research conducted by Olin Business School professor Michelle Duguid, there are 3 key factors that keep women from giving other women a leg up in the business world: competitive threat, collective threat and favoritism threat.

Competitive threat is the fear that a highly qualified female candidate might be more qualified, competent or accepted than you are. Collective threat is the concern that you are going to hire someone who is not suited for the position or does not perform his or her best and this will make you look bad. And last is the favoritism threat, the fear that you might actually look as if you’re doing what you should be doing, which is hiring more women because it creates diversity in your workplace. As opposed to seeing it as a positive thing, you don’t want to be accused of showing favoritism to your sex.

I’m the type that enjoys learning and sharing with my peers but more often than not, I find that men are more willing than women to do both. Instead we choose to fight with one another for attention and success. As opposed to using the friendly competition to push us and better ourselves the way men do.

Last week, I had a friend of mine (female) call and ask me for some advice on a blog she is working on. She wanted help with promoting and ideas to gain more viewers. I honestly have to say, I was flattered and more than happy to help her. I didn’t see her as “direct competition”, I saw her as a woman who is working hard on a concept she believes in and wants my help on the best way to go about making herself seen. Granted the topics we discuss are two totally differently ones but even if they weren’t I know that my literary voice and the way I see things can be reported in a style that is totally different than hers. Hell, if we did report on the same things, I might have looked to see if there was a way that we could cross promote and possibly involve ourselves in each others projects but since we aren’t, I have no problem not only giving her pointers on how to promote herself but I don’t mind sharing her posts and trying to direct traffic her way.

Women are such powerful beings, we can accomplish so much individually; imagine how far we could get if we’d support each other! While I understand that some women feel like they had to struggle and claw their way to the top or had to fight to gain access to important meetings and committees, promotions and mentors; the time to change is now. Why continue to let jealousy, gossip, criticism, insecurities and hatred continue to be such an epidemic among females?

Let’s nurture our relationships. Let’s hear another woman out when she has ideas to share. Compliment one another – genuinely, encourage each other, uplift one another. We have it hard enough as women, lets build a support system for one another.

 

We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man”…

 But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men

-Beyonce: “Flawless”

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