Are women their own worst enemies in business?

9 Mar

Women's competitive nature is turned on others as well as themselves (pic credit:

Forget the sisterhood. Women are in it for themselves – and will clamber over female colleagues to get to the top. Women will also push themselves much harder than men because they feel they need to be at their desks to prove they’re working hard.

At least, that’s according to a survey from Business Environment, which shows that even with the rhetoric of International Women’s Day and the support for women’s social, economic and professional achievements worldwide, when it comes down to a local, everyday level, women can be their own worst enemies.

The research says that women are highly critical of their female colleagues, with nearly three quarters (72%) judging their co-workers on inappropriate dress – compared with just 60% of men. A quarter would also be reluctant to hire a woman with children or of child-bearing age.

The findings suggest that women have more respect for male business role models, with a quarter (28%) saying they aspire to Richard Branson’s management style, compared with 12% for Karren Brady’s.

However, women feel they have to work harder than men, and are guilty of presenteeism. Nearly three quarters (71%) admit they feel they have to work longer hours to move up the career ladder, and 64% come into work when they’re ill. This compares with 67% and 59% respectively for men.

It also appears that women still feel the pressures of being a female in the workplace with 57% compelled to dress more powerfully to get ahead in business. More than a third (36%) also admit to wearing more make-up at the office.

However, women still rate qualities such as ‘understanding’ and ‘calmness’ over ‘dominance’ in a manager, which shows a disparity between how women behave and how they expect to be treated in the workplace.

So, a picture emerges of women being hard on others but even tougher on themselves. Isn’t it time for women to give themselves and each other a break, trust that what they’re doing is good enough, and play to their strengths?


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