In the film Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock’s FBI character has a pretty memorable line. "I mean, I know we all secretly hope the other one will trip and fall on her face and, wait a minute, I've already done that!" Her undercover character is referring to the competitive nature at the heart of beauty pageants like the one she's tasked with protecting.
Whether it's terms like "It Girl" or "Queen Bee," it's not unheard of to feel competitiveness among women. With women's rights, we've worked on leveling the playing field with men. Are we now getting fierce with our female counterparts? Instead of helping our fellow sisters out, are we cutting them off at the knees?
Enter the "Queen Bee syndrome." This label is used to describe the female boss who is especially critical of her female employees. This term disturbs me for multiple reasons. What could possibly be behind this? Is this a competitiveness that has been bred in women as some sort of workplace survival mode or is this label an unwarranted judgment? Let's also not rule out the possibility that we may run into bosses of any gender who simply have poor interpersonal skills.
That being said, the female element throws an interesting, real twist into the equation. It appears that unlike her "alpha male" counterpart who may often be described as a commander, visionary, strategist or executor, the Queen Bee may be described as vain, sharp-tongued and easily-threatened. Ouch. Are you a confident woman with an opinion? Well, you better watch your step because you may be deemed aggressive, bitchy or even worse, "emotional." With all this in mind, how could we possibly do anything besides help each other out? Female competitiveness seems like the last thing we need.
This is a complicated, multi-layered issue. Instead of women competing with other women, female mentors and support are what we need to get us through. Fortunately, some research conducted by the nonprofit organization Catalyst sheds a ray of hope. It appears that as women continue to progress in equality, the growing pains are not so easily forgotten.
Mentorship roles are incredibly valuable and needed, so it's great to see more women stepping up to pay it forward, but we all need to do our part. Are you paying it forward through mentorship and collaboration or are you secretly wishing your female counterpart would fall on her face? These are big questions and the answers could greatly impact future generations of women.
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