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This week’s New York Times piece “Backlash:Women Bullying Women at Work” raises an issue I get ticked off about. (Not enough to shove someone, like the “FemBullies” in the article supposedly do, but pretty darn mad.)  Because although there are bullies of both genders, I think women get the worse rap. 

Whenever I’ve spoken about workplace stress, someone asks, “Don’t you think it’s harder to work for a woman than a man?” inevitably followed by “My last boss was such a B___, (rhymes with “Witch).” Women conveniently file bullying male bosses under “whatever”. But women can’t get over being badly treated by another woman. 

Why are we harder on women? Because we expect more. We expect a woman to be fairer, more understanding, more ‘like me’. Sometimes she is. Sometimes, she’s just a jerk. But she’s neither forgiven nor forgotten and her memory lingers like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Tempers.  

Why does this tick me off? Because every time a woman piles on this myth, she’s hurting the chances for other women to advance. In fact, she’s hurting herself, too. If the powers that be buy into the watercooler line that ‘a woman will never fly around here,’ she won’t. Men and women are equally capable of being terrific colleagues. Mean-ness doesn’t discriminate by gender. (And one wonders, who inadvertently taught women bullying tactics in the first place?) 

C’mon! We are bigger than these petty schoolyard antics. (Even if sometimes we’d like to slug someone.) 

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October 28, 2020
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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