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I am tired of dealing with bitchy women at work

Categories: Career Talk, Working Women Issues

77 comments

A while back I wrote a post, right here on this blog, about the unfortunate way that confident women are often perceived in the workplace. As I’ve witnessed in my own career and as too many studies have suggested, they are viewed as aggressive, overbearing, and bitchy.

But recently I’ve come in contact with too many women who actually are bitchy to other women they work with. As I was dealing with one of them I started to wonder if there was something I was doing to cause her rudeness and bitchiness in communicating with me. I began to load my emails with all sorts of niceties and infused my phone conversations with her with an extra dose of politeness; her behavior didn’t change one bit. Then I met two other women who have dealt with her in the past and was relieved — how sad is that? — to learn that it was nothing personal towards me.

This certainly isn’t the first time this has happened. I spent the last ten years of my career working in extremely male-dominated environments and too many women I encountered there were just plain horrible. Bitchy, unwilling to network and be supportive, and extremely competitive. I had two older women, whom I’d met through networking, tell me quite plainly that they had a tough time getting to where they did and they weren’t about to make it easy for me by helping me. Nice, right?

I get that women from generations ahead of me had an extremely difficult time getting to positions of leadership and success. But it seems completely backwards that their reaction would be to NOT make it easier for younger women to follow in their footsteps. They’ve already made it, so what do they have to lose by helping others? All the great mentors I’ve had in my career have been men and I see older successful men network with, support, and help younger men all the time.

In a great article she wrote here on Work It, Mom!, Dr. Stacey Raidin, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and studies women’s leadership (which basically means she knows a lot more than I can think up in this area), suggests a few reasons for why women don’t support each other and network as well as men seem to. One of them stood out to me in particular: Because so few of us are in leadership positions, we operate from a position of scarcity — if I help another woman she might eventually compete with me for my position. This makes sense but it doesn’t make it right. If we don’t network better and support each other more we’ll be where we are today, with very few women leaders, fifty years from now.

I get really upset about this topic, if you haven’t noticed. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with men calling us bitchy when we’re being strong and assertive at work.

Why do we find it necessary to actually be bitchy to each other?



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77 comments so far...

  • One recent phenomenon I’ve noticed in my own workplace is that women who are rising to positions of leadership in parts of the organization often get asked by their male boss to stake out the aggressive/assertive positions when dealing with other females in the organization ie, “Ms. So and so in division X is demanding too much from our group at this time, can you go set some limits with her?” In other words, women are being rewarded by their bosses for behaving in a way that is outright witchy. It serves the woman’s own personal goals (being strong, looking good for her boss and therefore getting a bigger bonus) but at the same time it’s bad overall (corporate goals get lost to turf wars, this is a morale killer, and guys get promoted and rewarded for NOT having to do this stuff).

    In particular, there is one woman that I work with that has been saddled with this responsibility. I dread having to deal with her in emails or at meetings, because all she is a hired gun for her boss and she is positively disruptive. However, her behavior is rewarded by the boss and as long as he’s at the company, she’ll be here, still doing his dirty work. At least I don’t work for someone like that, and have the added benefit of being able to look at myself in the mirror and have some self-respect, not just a fat paycheck.

    KC  |  July 13th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

  • I am seeing a lot of articles about this topic, women not helping women. I am concerned myself about this. As women, whether we are wahm, or sahm, or not moms, we all want to see women grow and prosper. That should only make us happy. Perhaps as more articles are written to address this issue, women will slowly realize and start helping each other more. I certainly hope so.

    Vera Babayeva  |  July 13th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

  • This makes me angry too!! The first step was to get individual women into leadership positions. Those women cut the path that did not previously exist. I would like to see them putting up road signs that say ‘this way’ for other women, but too often it seems they are covering their tracks and don’t want anyone to follow them. What I think is lost in the quest is the knowledge that leadership is ultimately about supporting and building a foundation for those who will succeed you. If you do not support, network with, and build foundations with other women, they will not be the ones to succeed and that is very sad.

    On the other hand I think a lot of these women suffer from ‘it always worked so I’m not changing!’ and haven’t received the wake up call that they are hurting their own careers by not helping others. How many times in executive roles do folks tend to move around, bringing former peers to work for them? Eventually some of those folks move into higher positions and the roles are reversed. The title isn’t the goal, it’s how you use your leadership and influence for good of the company and others that will be your success!!

    Kate  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:40 am

  • Wow… I didn’t know this was common. But it’s not just women being bitchy to women. This happened to my husband. When he was hired, he was the most junior employee in a department full of older women who had been there for years. They were really nasty to him and his perception was that they had to deal with it themselves when they first started at the job and now it’s his turn. I never understood this concept (like… since you know what it was like, wouldn’t you NOT want to do that to another person?) My husband finally left that company after a couple years of hell.

    AG  |  July 14th, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  • But on the other hand. . .
    Just because we both are women doesn’t mean I like you and want to help you. Maybe you are the employee I have the least in common with and the one I see having the least aptitude. I find that as a woman in a male-dominated field, that I personally relate better to men after 15 years of spending time with them. Even with “couple” friends, I often have more to talk about with the husband than the wife. I don’t see myself as being “bitchy” to anyone, and I think that behavior is just bad manners, but I also don’t like the assumption that all the girls should play together.

    alison  |  July 14th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

  • Alison — I agree with you 100%, completely and I’m like you in terms of relating better to men at times because I’ve worked for 10 years, before launching Workitmom.com, with basically all men.

    But the behavior I wrote about and one I notice over and over is different from the idea of girls should just help each other because they are girls — it’s women NOT helping each other BECAUSE they are women. And that’s the behavior which is driving me insane.

    Nataly  |  July 14th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  • Alison - yes! I am in the same boat! but that doenst mean i would (and i doubt you would) be mean and nasty and rude to anyone. Even if i dont care for someone personally it does not give me the right to treat them unprofessionally. And being mean/nasty/rude is unprofessional. I dont care what your title is or who it is directed to!

    Nataly - btw, i forgot to mention that i love that you said you went overboard with the nice and polite - i SO DO THAT when i am getting the grrrr vibe from someone. it is a rare (and very surly type) that does not respond to nice and polite. At that point, you know that it is not you and you have to not take it personally or you just drive yourself bonkers. (but that’s probably a whole other post :) )

    Kate  |  July 14th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  • Women NOT helping each other BECAUSE they are women… is SEXIST. It shocks and saddens me when I encounter discrimination against women perpetuated BY WOMEN!!! Unfortunately, I’ve encountered it more than I would like.

    Robyn  |  July 14th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  • I work in a place where it is 98% women and only 2% men. The bitchy women that I encounter at almost every turn really truly saddens me. It is hard enough to work at our jobs without dealing with the unbelievable bitches that surround me. It makes the job twice as tough and stress twice as much!

    Karen  |  July 14th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  • About 10 years ago a young colleague of mine told me that she works with two types of women - those who want to help you get where they are; and those who want to keep you from getting where they are. I had never defined it that way but started to notice that is often the case. I have been very lucky to work with the former as well as the later. I now work for a CIO who is the former and women are doing well in a male dominated career here (and not at the expense of men). I am so thankful that same colleague put me in the former and we still talk frequently though we’ve moved to different companies. I’ve had many male mentors that I am grateful for but the few women I’ve found gave me some very female friendly advice that I am forever grateful.

    The only choice we have is how we want to model the behavior we’d like to receive. Thanks for the article, I truly enjoyed it and it made me smile.

    Stacey Beck  |  July 14th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

  • Great post! It reminds me of a quote by Madeleine Albright that says, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. I, personally, could not imagine NOT being supportive to my network. And, yes, your colleagues (among many others) are part of your network.

    It seems as though for women, compared with other marginalized groups, there is a level of comraderie that doesn’t exist as much as it should. Helping others should be your default mode. And taking it one step further, one should really seek to FIND ways to be of assistance and support. Career karma is real - and success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We are social creatures who need others in our lives to help us get to where we are headed, both personally and professionally.

    Connecting with and supporting other women (and anyone for that matter), creating interpersonal relationships that are conducive to mutual growth and learning, are a mainstay for career success.

    Lydia Fernandes  |  July 14th, 2008 at 6:54 pm

  • Sometimes I think that if we just take the gender politics out of the equation and just apply the “do unto others” policy things would be a lot simpler. Easier said than done, of course…I am a regional manager and I work with a male boss and 4 other regional managers who are also male. The only other female on our team is an assistant. I believe I’m nice to her but not because she is a girl and somehow I should have this natural desire to help her, but because a good human being should treat others with respect. However, some people are just natural jerks or natural witches. I used to work for one. She did so many things to undermine me and block my advancement no matter how hard I tried. Fortunately, I was noticed by upper deciision makers inspite her best (or worst?) efforts. I now outrank her. And guess what? She’s still a witch with a capital B, except she’s now mindful of not crossing the line now that I outrank her. She is a mean person to everyone. She only seems meaner to women because we somehow instiinctively try to compensate by being extra nice to those in positions of power who are rude to us. As if they’ll all of a sudden be nice people if we’re sweet to them. Mean people like her read that as “weakness” and pounce. When other women who work for her talk to me about how to deal with her, I tell them not to let her cow them and to stand their ground. Just keep it professional, though. Don’t do anything to get you in trouble in case you want to escalate it to HR.

    MariaVictoria  |  July 14th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

  • I’ve had this happen to me many times. Like Nataly, all the great mentors I had were men. My current female supervisor seemed like she was an exception at first because she was really sweet and encouraging to me. Then as months went on, something got twisted and I saw her becoming more jealous, short, and just anxious with me. She is training me to take over her position at the end of the year and it seemed like she just couldn’t handle thinking about me doing that. It was really sad because I thought I could finally have a women mentor I longed for.. I have not given up hope and I certainly will not try to be one of those women who make it to the top only to live in anxieties all day.

    Jisoo  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:30 pm

  • This is terrible.

    Kelli Amaya  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

  • Two things, threat & insecurity . Reasons why women who happened to be there in the workplace when you come along become bitchy and aloof. Especially if you arrived with brains, looks, sexier body and tons of willpower to be the best. Suddenly the workplace becomes alive with your presence and somehow they see you as the bitch one who is up to grab the opportunities and promotions and the laurels and the MEN!!!

    eleanor  |  July 15th, 2008 at 3:11 am

  • I am so glad to see this post. I work full time in Corp. America and PT in my network marketing business. My goal is to fire Corp. America. I deal with some unpleasant women in my work place. They are always gossiping and just down right back stabbing others (including me). I went out of my way for the longest time to be extra nice and pleasant, but I’m done with it. I’m in Management and they are not. Some say it’s jealousy. Okay, jealous that I’m salaried and do not get overtime and jealous that I work my rear off and have a PT career also. Whatever!

    It does make work sometimes unpleasant. But I have learned to cope and keep my thoughts to myself on this issue. So, thanks for letting me share and vent.

    Lisa Willard  |  July 15th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

  • I think it’s because of the way women are socialized. We’re taught not to be direct and open. Then when we get into the workplace and, hello, stuff happens that requires confrontation, or disagreement, or any of the myriad things we’ve either been taught not to do or, worse, don’t even know HOW to do because we’ve never been allowed to experiment … well, we fall back on passive aggression, backhandedness and other childish behaviors.

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I worked in the construction industry, with virtually all men. And I worked for a stuffed collectibles company, completely 100% all women. If you paid me double, I wouldn’t choose a job with all women over a job with all men. The women’s “communication” skills reminded me of a junior high stereotype — everything from snide, behind-her-back comments up to and including discipline being handled via the grapevine (”[so-and-so] told me that [such-and-such] wants you to know that [XYZ] isn’t permitted in the break room — I just thought you should know”). It was a living nightmare.

    The interesting thing is, I encounter woman after woman after woman who will concede that she, too, prefers working with men. I don’t think there’s an innate quality to women that makes us conniving backstabbers, but I do think our culturally-enforced behavioral patterns are ill-matched to a business atmosphere.

    (The ideal solution, of course, is to find a workplaced inhabited entirely by women-who-prefer-male-dominanted-workplaces!)

    Jan  |  July 15th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  • I must be really, really lucky. I rarely encounter bitchy women in my work. One or two, here and there. But I’ve been blessed with a low bitch ratio. Most are as nice and helpful as can be.

    Susan  |  July 15th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

  • Thanks for your article. I came across a situation at my job,with a women who did not get my co-workers attention.Who is male.Who showed jealousy . I was caught off gaurd by her. I found myself upset by this incident.You may ask why? Well because simply put -it was dumb and unprofessional.

    Monique  |  July 15th, 2008 at 8:03 pm

  • Nataly,

    I think we have all encountered at one point in time a bitchy co-worker or even boss. My one experience with one such individual was so stressful that I ended up leaving the company. Or course, being in your twenties everything seems so much larger than it really is.

    As time passed and I was back in the agency business, I had opportunity to cross paths with this individual through mutual network contacts. What I discovered was this woman had been abused not only by her boss, but abused in her marriage(s), relationships and was an alcohol and substance abuser. Nothing is as it seems with people.

    We will always meet with women who are strong and confident enough to give a lift to each other. Thank goodness for these heroes in my opinion.

    However, for those who choose to see everything as a threat; pity them because they are coming from a position of lack.

    With companies and the entrepreneurial spirit going global; it’s time to stop thinking so insular. There’s plenty of room for all:)

    Libby  |  July 16th, 2008 at 8:37 am

  • I’ve noticed a huge connection to women who were raised with team sports (or large social networks of friends and siblings) and those who were not so athletically inclined or chose very small more sheltered groups. Most men grew up with some type of team activity; whether it is little league, football, soccer or debate team. It is these socilizations that teach the young that helping one another in turn only helps themselves. They grew up socializing with a large support group of other boys whereas most women grew up with one or 2 very close friends. Unfortunately until more women expose themselves to that type of team oriented environment the slower things will change for the better. I’ve witnessed the “Weak Woman” mentality where all they do is complain and moan, talk about others behind their backs and offer excuses for how nothing in their lives is their fault. It is these women who can’t stand to witness succesful women and will do what they can to be a nussance. It’s difficult to separate yourself from this draw because on one hand you want to be accepted by the women in the workplace yet don’t want to be brought down to their pettiness. Ladies stay strong and try to keep an open mind when meeting new people. I have met many more strong and independent, educated and driven women lately than I have the shallow, uneducated under miners. Just know that as difficult as these “troubled” women try to make your life, living within their own skin is extremely more painful to them than it is to those they come into contact with. And even these women stuck in the dark ages can be taught through education and persistent exposure to strong independent women to see the light. Times are changing slowly but surely. Try to keep the faith in who you are and know what you do with your individual careers and your positive exposure to other young women (and men) will open doors for the future generations of young women you represent. All the best.

    Tammy  |  July 16th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

  • Um, Nataly, are you working anywhere other than Work It, Mom? My first reaction to this column was to wonder if there was some ugliness going on behind the scenes at your website.

    SoftwareMom  |  July 16th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

  • Endured working with a bitch for half a year and became one of the reasons why I quit my job. I have worked with a lot of difficult people in the corp world but she was just an arrogant, unprofessional, disrespectful, backstabbing bitch. What was unique to the situation tho was that this sly strategist connived with a male executive in giving unfounded performance appraisals to people at work. It was appalling to read through their chat messages (she lets me read them!) during conference calls.

    I think bitchiness stems from both the male & female species. Insecurity plays a big factor why these people take it out on people at work. I am good at separating work & family life. But this experience, a job that required 12-hr days, a project partnering with her team for days on end, was not worth the stress.

    Maria  |  July 16th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  • I have found after twenty some years with both male and female supervisors, that I prefer male supervisors. I’ve had too many bad experiences with female supervisors. Bitchy is just a part of it. Down right rude and back stabbing has been my history, unfortunately. However, I think I’ve learned from what I have witnessed and it’s made me a better manager. I must be doing something right, I’ve had two employees follow me from company to company.

    Mary  |  July 16th, 2008 at 8:33 pm

  • I have to say, I am really sad to hear the many stories of similar experiences to mine…. and Softwaremom, not at all — the woman I described is someone I’ve been dealing with as a service provider to us.

    Nataly  |  July 16th, 2008 at 8:36 pm

  • This has got me thinking and, awful as it is, looking back at my working life I realize my worst experiences with other co-workers have always been dealing with bitchy women. God, how depressing is that?

    Diane  |  July 16th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

  • OK, I am one of those women who reached the highest level at my location. Was I helpful to the women coming up under me? Yes, but it depended on how they behaved. Unfortunately, those who really wanted to rise to the top were disrespectful to women at the top.

    I read a study about ages & stages of career women. Up to a certain age - say, 35 - they think they have everything it takes to make it in a man’s world. And that if the women going before them took longer and dealt with a high level of frustration and still don’t make as much, it’s because they didn’t have the right stuff. They don’t believe in the glass ceiling. They don’t believe in discrimination. They would rather have a male mentor because he’s the female superior’s boss. Then when they reach about age 35, reality sinks in and they realize (a) why, there IS a glass ceiling, ouch! and (b) now they are alone, because they have burned their bridges, or the women before them (who were also alone) have quit or failed.

    I worked very hard to try to bring younger women up in an old-boys’-club environment. I gave them so much, only to have them either ignore me, or disrespect me to my face and ridicule me behind my back. Someday their heads will hit the glass ceiling (if they ever even get that far), and then they will be complaining that other women don’t help them out.

    Sorry to sound bitter, but even a mentoring relationship is a two-way street. Using terms like “bitchy” to describe a class of women is not the way to get our sympathy. Did it ever occur to you that maybe YOU have something to offer that bitchy hag?

    SKL  |  July 17th, 2008 at 12:48 am

  • The more I think about it, women should not be using the “B” word publicly to describe other women under any circumstances. It’s just like African-Americans using the “N” word to describe other African-Americans.

    SKL  |  July 17th, 2008 at 12:53 am

  • And for the record, both my male and female direct reports are extremely loyal and friendly to me, even as they and I have changed jobs and careers. They looked up to me and were able to learn from me. It’s the other women in the department, who had male bosses, who ignored and/or disrespected me. So no, I am not a “bitch,” but I did stop putting forth the effort to give these women a leg up. Women have to work twice as much as it is; it’s a huge sacrifice to mentor someone who returns only negativity.

    SKL  |  July 17th, 2008 at 12:59 am

  • One last comment and then I’ll let it rest. Women “at the top” have not been on the receiving end of a female mentor. They have no example to follow. That maybe some women’s downfall. Some of us make up for that by being of the nurturing variety (I place myself in this category). But in addition, the corporate culture doesn’t really support female-female mentorships the way it does male-male ones. All the social stuff, all the bonding and team-building opportunities that corporations pay for, are activities that interest most men, but not so many women. Golf outings. Cocktail parties. Basketball games. Cigars. Steak dinners with drinks and drunks and filthy jokes and getting home too late to tuck the kids into bed. If a woman and her mentor/mentee aren’t comfortable in such settings, they are on their own. “Meet me in my office after my conference call and before my lunch meeting.” It’s not fair to hold women to the same standard as men, when we aren’t giving them the same tools. Mentees have to be creative about making a mentoring relationship work. How about some discussion about what young women can do to help their superiors help them?

    SKL  |  July 17th, 2008 at 1:18 am

  • Here’s some food for thought. For all the complaining women do about the “Boys Club”, it is this man bonding that makes them successful. When they work together, they actually work together. The coordinate their plans and team up. They get consensus before driving major changes. They are on the same page at the right time. Women on the other hand over compete. We appear to network, but in the end typically go it alone.

    I agree that women need to support each other in the work place. Too often we lose in the end because of the “me first” attitude. I personally prefer men as managers as they do mentor and don’t feel threatened by their subordinates. I also like working with men as peers better because you don’t have to worry about the back stabbing as much.

    What interests me is that I don’t think how women act in the workplace is any different than how women are in nature. I watch our girls in grade school through high school and catty behavior is rampant. Maybe we should start teaching our daughters early to get along better and have those skills when they get to the workplace.

    Michele  |  July 17th, 2008 at 3:46 am

  • I made a career change from a field where I made it all the way to middle management and where men and women worked in equal proportions to a field that is most female dominated and I’ve had a really hard time learning enough to advance ever since. Women bosses tend to delegate scut work to me. I have to be careful how I ask for more challenging assignments or I am perceived as a threat. Taking initiative and doing something without waiting to be asked is also not always the way to go. I am so mixed up! My confidence has taken quite a beating since the switch.

    Patti  |  July 17th, 2008 at 11:33 am

  • Try being a mom of four kids, young, thin and work in an office full of women. It was like “high school” all over again. Envy is a strong and sometimes evil emotion. That experience was almost more than I could handle. Now my kids are older 22 to 12 years old and I am a lot wiser. I am not their problem…..they just have issues. It’s OK if people don’t like you. Just don’t be mean to them. By the way, one of the women that was down right mean to me, apologized 18 years later!

    Toni  |  July 17th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

  • Just found this site and thread for the first time tonight –I was excited, then saddened. So many smart, intelligent women angry, frustrated and using the B word to describe other women.

    I was blessed enough to spend my formative career years in a company chock full of great women who mentored and helped the many younger women — so I’ve tried to pass it on.
    Sometimes I did/do it well –other times when I’ve been overwhelmed/distracted by my own struggles — maybe I failed.

    Let’s all lookat the great role models in society at la rge if we can’t find them in our own jobs and companies…Cher, Oprah, Barbara Streisand, Martha Stewart, Maria Shriver, Maya Angelou, Diane Sawyer…to name a few. These women support and mentor other women.

    We have role models and we have each other. We’re all tired, overworked, a little lonely for the “female” connectedness women need with each other.

    No more use of the B word to define/describe ourselves — please. We are sisters at best…enemies when we are at our worst.

    Peace and success to all.

    Sherry Gadson  |  July 30th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

  • Interesting point.

    I have to say I’d rather a male boss any day over a woman. I find women in the workplace often have chips on their shoulders because they’re trying to prove something.

    I understand that, but it makes some of them very tough to deal with. Men seem to have less to prove.

    bloggingmom67  |  August 15th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

  • As a man, I can deal with women being bitchy, but when you do not know who will show up to work on any given day puzzles me to no end. My boss is a woman (first time I ever had a woman for a boss) and one day she is very helpful and courteous, and one day she is rude and demanding. Some days she comes into work and will not even say hello. I leave my personal problems at the door when I come to work. I say hello and smile. I am courteous to everyone, from the janitor to the plant manager. My boss has been with the company longer than me and by virtue of her seniority, she became my boss when most of us were shuffled around. This is the first time she has ever been a supervisor or manager. And this is the first time in 22 years that I have never had anyone working directly for me. I am beginning to like being responsible for only myself. Normally she would work alone as a financial analyst. My work history includes many years as a supevisor and manager, and for five years prior to working for this company I was a plant manager. I have an MBA and she has a Bachelors in Finance. But because she has been with this company longer, she is the boss. And I am good with that, but she should come to work and deal with work issues. Not be pissed about what her husband did the day before.

    Gary  |  September 14th, 2008 at 9:03 am

  • I felt a huge sense of relief when I read these comments. I have been dealing with a very insecure girl for the past year. I was her supervisor prior to her getting a promotion, where I now work somewhat side by side with her and 2 other women. We got along before, but now it seems that even though I am in one postion higher than her that she feels we are now on a more even ‘playing field’. I think she believes that she can do my job and do it better. I have worked extremely hard to get where I am today and am very private individual. She however is very controlling, backstabbing, insecure and very public about every aspect of her life. While I realize everyone is different and neither one of us is more ‘right’ than the other, I am having an extremely difficult time dealing with all of the pettiness and down right evilness that she brings into the office everyday. I do not know what I have done to her, but it feels like she absolutely hates me.

    Angela  |  September 14th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  • I Am Tired of Dealing With Women Who Use the Term “Bitch”

    Interesting perspective, especially the way you move immediately to questioning yourself. Why? Why do you feel the need to try to repair something without knowing how it broke down. “I started to wonder if there was something I was doing to cause her rudeness and bitchiness in communicating with me. I began to load my emails with all sorts of niceties and infused my phone conversations with her with an extra dose of politeness; her behavior didn’t change one bit.” Something seems off here, kind of like the flip side to the “bitchiness” question: if you ignored her rudeness, more like “a guy,” I guess, how would that have felt? Why did you feel releived by the other women’s perspectives? Because you didn’t trust your own. It’s about boundaries, I guess, and that’s what bothers me so much about your posting here.

    As a strong AND thoughtful woman, maintaining our focus seems to be a key task in the work place. For all of us to survive it seems important, to me, to remember that we all have different cultures, perspectives and histories. I hate the term “bitchy.” Like I hate the term “slut.” Terms with no counterpart in men. Why do you compare and contrast women being “bitchy” with men being magnanimous? because men= nice, stable, good, women=bitchy. At least in this post.

    Suppose that woman is in chronic pain, but can’t afford to quit her job. Suppose she’s up all night caring for an aging parent she feels guilty about putting in a nursing home? What if you found out she survived a concentration camp? Would that change your label of her? What if she was a man, what would you call him?

    More often women are working much more and caring for more responsibilities during their off hours, there are tons of studies that validate this. It makes sense that this kind of chronic stress comes out. Just one thought.

    I just think, in the end, you’re exhibit A for sexism in the workplace. First by using labels like this, second by personalizing other people’s behavior- something we as women need to totally quit doing. Last, by comparing men in only positive terms.

    You know, as I do, that we’re all mean at times. There are people, men AND women, who are mean more often than not at work. Kind of like the teachers we all have to take to graduate. Dissolving into sexist, divisive and ultimately, as a woman, self-loathing language doesn’t help any of us get through the day in a productive way.

    I know this is really late in your comments, and possibly won’t get read. If you do, though, please consider the impact of your words. What are you building here?

    Then I met two other women who have dealt with her in the past and was relieved — how sad is that? — to learn that it was nothing personal towards me.

    Lori Holloway  |  September 14th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  • To be politically correct, perhaps we should use the word “itchy” to describe insecure, irritable and controlling females in the workplace. The name “bully” also comes to mind with this type of aggressive behavior. I always imagined a “bully” as the aggressive young male at a playground. On second thought, the word “bitch “seems appropriate to sum up an itchy bully. I work in an office environment supporting 7 individuals, two of whom are female. One female who is single, is displaying questionable relationship behavior with our married boss. Nauseating to all of us who are in the direct path of her destruction; she holds the immunity card in this ridiculous game of workplace survival. We feel it’s manipulative and disruptive. Upper management and HR , who has their own belly button windows installed, seem to turn their blind eye to this behavior as everyone is in fear of suit or getting s-canned. All of which depends on your level of service. Staff from other departments observes this supervisor/subordinate interaction and makes comments. It’s an atmosphere that’s bordering on hostile. Our office environment was a relatively peaceful place for many years before this power tripping/insecure individual took up office space. Power tripping/insecure, sure looks like the bi polar wrecking ball…As we all continue to walk through the mine filed, I may just get out my book “Screen play writing for dummies” and work on the sequel to “Office Space”. It’ll be a good laugh, a relief for anyone who can relate to workplace survival game. I’ll title it “Office Bitch”. For those of you who are offended by the word bitch to describe pure office hell on earth either never really experienced one or are one themselves. EfenA !

    Samantha  |  September 20th, 2008 at 7:27 am

  • Today was the day when I let two absolutely bitchy women get to me…I am upset by it now because I got so upset I ended up crying (not in their presence). I have worked in this environment for over a year and I am astonished how a small group of women could be so hateful towards one another. The minute one person walks out of the room, another starts talking about her. She didn’t do this…she is taking his side…she needs to work harder, etc. There is also a purposeful putting down of coworkers…any suggestions or comments are instantly discredited or shut down. I am thinking about confronting one of the “perps” tomorrow. She had the gall to be talking to another workmate about church. I SOOOO BADLY wanted to say, “YOU go to church? Hmmppphh” to try to get her to ask what I meant by that. I can’t fathom for the life of me why some women are so hateful towards each other…why is it necessary? I try so hard to be nice to everyone and it doesn’t mean a thing. Any suggestions?

    Dana  |  October 22nd, 2008 at 6:39 pm

  • I would rather work with 100 men than 3 women. Working with MOST women is like swimming in shark infested waters that someone threw blood into. Women would eat their own. It’s bad. Men have no idea just how lucky they have it and just how bad it is.

    Sherry  |  November 12th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

  • Thanks for the post, Nataly.

    Of course, women can be bitchy at at work, just like men. Sometimes they’re overt and sometimes they’re stealthy, sneaky. Isn’t that your experience?

    More important than distracting questions and considerations about how much they do it, why they do it or do they do it more or differently than men, are:
    * Do you recognize the early warning signs of bullies?
    * Do you know how to stop them skillfully?

    Women often say that other women aren’t as overt about bullying; they’re more likely to be stealth bullies. Some use tactics that are sneaky, manipulative, backstabbing; some form cliques and start rumors or demeaning put-downs; some pretend to be friends and bad mouth you behind your back; some are negative, whining, complaining “professional victims;” some are passive-aggressives. And some can be just as much nit-picking, control-freaks as men. How about Meryl Streep and other unsavory characters in “The Devil Wears Prada?”

    Some are splinters, rotten apples and cancers – at all levels in your organization. Just like men who bully.

    As I show in my books and CDs of case studies, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks” and “Eliminate the High Cost of Low Attitudes,” bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same – whether they’re men or woman. That’s why we can find ways to stop them.

    Ignoring the problem or begging, bribery, appeasement reinforce low attitudes and behavior at all levels. A major part of the problem are conflict-avoidant leaders, managers and co-workers who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying.

    If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey. Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

    When women and men learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, we develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill. We need these qualities to succeed against the real world bullies they face – men or women.

    Disclosure: I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com).

    Best wishes,
    Ben

    Ben Leichtling  |  February 9th, 2009 at 9:46 am

  • I cant handle bitchy women. I will take a bitch over a sexist boss anyday.

    Plus, if you read all blogs about women or something to do with women, the harshest critics are women. How you raise your kid. How you wear your hair. Stay at home or work?

    it goes on and on and on. we are complete bitches to each other. luckily i have great friends who are not.

    i also find the trick to avoiding bitchy people is not being passive aggressive. stand up for yourself. manipulators love passive aggressiveness.

    gwendolyn  |  February 9th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

  • Some women I work with are very bitchy. Not warranted either. A report is too detailed and makes them bitchy, then it does not have enough, then needs something else. It is posturing and shallow. Makes me sad, and willing to look for a healthier employer. Men I work with are not like this. I do not see the flip flopping and back stabbing. Not of other men nor women.

    Fred  |  February 9th, 2009 at 8:34 pm

  • I’m so relieved to have found this site and your insightful comments. THe situation I’m in is very sticky and, yes, it involves a bitchy woman in my new job. This is a dream job for me and so I’m happy and productive and super focused. My co-worker has been there for one year and does something completely different, so we are in no way ‘competing’ for the same promotions, etc. But she is horrible to me. She criticizes me loudly and sarcastically when I’m on the phone, she makes fun of me behind my back to my male colleagues (one of whom told me, as a heads up to her behaviour), she swears from the moment she comes into the office in the morning until the moment she leaves. Worse, she openly discusses the men at work she’s like to have sex with. Even worse, these are married guys with young families. She doesn’t care. She hip checks them when they come into the room, she discusses penises openly in the office, and constantly discusses sex and her ex-boyfriend’s physical attributes, etc. She tries to get me to do her work for her too, even though it’s not my job at all, or my area of expertise. I keep my head down and stay professional. THe problem? She is cute and blonde and big breasted and well educated. And young. The guys love her and can’t get enough of her. If I stand up for myself when she is bullying me, they make meowing noises and laugh. And they jump to HER defense. I’m thinking of leaving.

    Elizabeth  |  February 9th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

  • Thanks all of you for insight; I am a 52 yo male with a lifetime of dealing with male and female bitches, and sadly, have unwittingly been one a few times in my youth. I will be staffing some projects soon and just surfing for on this because have had to deal with it a lot.

    I want to offer some constructive comments. I could type for a month and not even scratch the surface (no pun intended).

    A random observation : we tend to remember the bad events with people, and forget the good ones.

    The latest post by Elizabeth, feb 9 09 is interesting, so here goes.

    Elizabeth, stay focused and keep building your work experience and marketable skills. Your self-development plan should begin with building your independence safety net : savings, skills, contacts, reputation, passion for your work and new skill sets. You will get fired, layed off, and shanked horribly in your career. Learn to recover and thrive. Have a backup plan in place.

    Now let’s discuss your opponent. Again, just observations for you to consider. Work out a long-term plan and learn to endure the loss of tiny battles. Try to look at the long-term and understand people’s life cycles.

    Her power is at its peak right now. She is relying on these tactics because her youthful beauty (or false projection of it) makes it too easy for her. Believe me, her star will begin to fade very soon. Eventually her attactiveness will be gone and her power will be nil, at which point she becomes an extreme bitch to everyone.

    You, however, will have built on marketable skills and safety net. She will be forgotten. But let’s discuss the immediate problem.

    Shrug off her attacks. If she wins with this, so what? Turn the other cheek (to a point). Stay competent with the men, and unfazed by her methods. Be in good humor with the men and work towards them seeing you as dependable and easy to work with.

    By the way, those guys are pathetic, I know. Married men are pushovers for office flirts because they are trapped and the office is the only place they see other females. That’s another topic.

    As for now, specifically, you are being sexually harrassed. A man would be fired in 10 seconds if he behaved like that. Give her plenty of rope to hang herself with, stay pleasant, and document and record her language.

    No, don’t plan this for a lawsuit! Quietly gather your information, stay a team player, and keep the info in place for the golden opportunity (which may never come, so stay detached). It may come when you are abruptly leaving for another job, or when they threaten you, or when she causes a problem with someone else and you merely toss gasoline on the fire. The possibilities are endless, but stay detached on work on yourself above all else.

    Ok, gotta go. To all, these are games. You prevail when you recognize the game and refuse your assigned player role. It may mean quitting or walking out if there is no other alternative.

    See “Games People Play” and “The 48 Laws of Power”.

    Elizabeth, also try to find a copy of “Office Politics” by R.Don Steele. He lays out some ugly and useful truths.

    mr.t  |  February 11th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

  • As a young Mum of two and fairly successful in my own personal life, I am extremely frustrated that my dedication and enthusiasm in my professional life, is open for bitchy discussions in my workplace.

    It is not only the generation ahead but the ones coming through.

    It is a hard gig and not sweating about the bitching is hard to do when your workplace is full of women after the one or two opportunities in the organization.

    How do the ones like me who doesn’t bitch at work survive - bitch online?

    Tanya  |  February 13th, 2009 at 4:20 am

  • If you are an incredibly beautiful woman, you are more likely to be bullied than if you are fat and unattractive. I’m a former model, wherever I go, women end up screaming and shouting obscenities at me, spreading rumors, whispering, and laughing. I get a lot of catty comments and nasty looks shot at me all day long. I try not to let the subtle disses and put-downs bother me. I get along with guys well, which leads to more of this. Especially if men like you, women hate you even more.

    Ana  |  April 22nd, 2009 at 7:03 pm

  • It’s reassuring to see that I’m not alone in my thinking about how women treat each other professionally. Check out my blog post:

    http://fssimon.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/women-leaders-what-have-you-done-to-help-other-women-lately/

    Another bewildered female leader  |  May 9th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  • Just pray for them…if you can.

    Joelle  |  May 14th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  • I so agree with you. I’m in the same situation now. No matter how nice I am, my boss finds a way to be bitchy and condescending about my work. I am so over trying to be in competition with other women.

    What ever happened to helping each other make it to the top instead of trying to tear them down.

    So Sweet  |  May 22nd, 2009 at 9:08 am

  • I recently started working. Trying to make a new start in my life, hoping that some day i could fulfill my dreams . However i find it tough, with these bitchy women around. Despite putting in your best efforts and best manners, some women ensure they humiliate you and discourage you. It’s really strange and sad that women at work never encourage you, and appreciate your struggles and efforts. And the really sad part is that it’s not ony women who are higher positions, but even the younger ones adopt bithyness to being professional. It’s not only the strong, assertive women who are bitchy, but even the weaker ones who get to higher post, and are insecure in their life, make others feel horrible. I Guess they derive some pleasure and feel elevated when they can feel the power to put someone down.

    avantika  |  May 28th, 2009 at 10:59 am

  • My family is largely an asocial one. Thus, I was not coached in Office 101, and in my first job, I paid for this.

    I had a very difficult boss–a self-absorbed woman without clear boundaries (i.e., mentor one day, violent verbal anger the next). After being there for one year, I began knowing another young woman who turned out to be openly negative about coworkers and started complaining to me about them.

    Because it was my first job, I didn’t realize the perils of this soon enough. Without warning, I was dismissed just like that. The young woman who contributed to this loss was allowed to keep her job, and the supervisor’s mismanagement carried on free of discipline.

    Workplace negativity is a really big problem. Though it may seem obvious, it’s good to be very cautious around coworkers and not get too cozy. I’ve seen lots of women overdo emotional expressions, from the death-grip handshake to the rude or almost-rude comments.

    It is imperative that all young women receive work-related coaching. Office boundaries are different from other ones. If you have bitchy coworkers, have nothing except a professional relationship and use non-office time planning your next step. Be workplace positive. Too much stress is a serious health risk, so it makes sense to care for yourself before things get too crazy.

    hce  |  August 1st, 2009 at 4:35 pm

  • I think you are right that some women are judged because some people still want to live in the fifties when it comes to women in the work place. However I am a women too and I treat everyone witht he same respect I want to get back. MEN AND WOMEN ALIKE. Men I usually have no issue with them reciprocating, its the women who…sorry for the lack of a better term, BITCH…AND BITCH AND BITCH!!! Lets just be honest….women consider it a power tool. Yet its always something with them. I’m tempted to bake a cake containing SAMe and bring it in for a snack Fridays! I am tired of the hostility and I think the work place is not the proper place for all the attitude! Lets grow up ladies! Make CEO or whatever you like, just stop the bitching!!!

    cam71  |  August 21st, 2009 at 12:51 pm

  • Most of the women at the top in my office are way thin and have grown children - OR - zero kids -

    They are always trying to upstage other moms/women with huge potential in the workplace and I”m just about fed up -
    There’s a group so dubbed “ano chicks” (ano-anorexia) who cliche together and catch cocktails after work - if you are not in with them, they will snub you in the hallway - I have my own slang for them: Bitches in kitten heels.

    i’m a friend of 4 or the 6 in the group - and i’m a plus sized woman - and proud of it -
    When they go to lunch - they always take in a salad or soup - I’m very careful not to trump by ordering the carbo laden slab-o-ribs! why is that? a couple of the other ladies who are invited are trying not to mess up the relationship and to be asked to lunch by these chicks is an honor is some folks eyes - I only go to get what I want - I’ve turned them down several times b-4 and it has gotten around that I did that -
    NO ONE turns down their invitation - well, I did - and got away with it -
    Last time I went with them to lunch - I ordered the never-ending pasta bowl, and I think most of them gained weight by just watching it…
    I offered them a taste and they passed it around as if it were christmas day -

    Call it my gift to them - but they have my respect, b/c I didn’t sell my soul and I know that I do ‘me’ the best… that’s all there is to it.

    LARRAH  |  September 9th, 2009 at 12:21 am

  • as a career woman, it is awfully sad to see this unveiling in my own work place — What’s even more sad, is that women ‘without’ children are more bitchy than those ‘with’ children -
    Moms who work sometimes are more empathetic and will help younger women who are coming up in the ranks - It’s a sad day when women from all backgrounds bark at each other and become the amusement of men in the workplace who skate up the ranks in their careers… that’s the truth.

    LARRAH  |  October 9th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

  • There’s not much you can do about witchy women.

    However, you can make a decision right now, that as you move up in your career and find yourself managing other people, that you are going to treat all people with a blend of humor, respect, and dignity.

    Especially when people let you down. I’m not saying “except when they let you down.” I’m saying especially when they screw up and especially when you must ask them fix something or revise it or relinquish it.

    Eileen  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 6:24 pm

  • I will be the first to admit that I am borderline aggressive at work simply because when it is harder for a woman to get a promotion in this world you have got to be confident. However, I am not mean just to be mean. I like to help people and share my knowledge. I have worked with women who are aggressive and seeing how I am still young a lot of that aggression has been targeted at me. I can tell you now that I do not let anyone treat me unprofessionally.

    When I had just graduated from high school I took a job with an overly aggressive woman as the manager. She did not have the patience for new employees, but she was desperate for workers due to the fact that she could not retain any of her employees. I would have thought that would be enough of a hint that maybe she should have toned it down, but I guess she didn’t get it. One day at work I had made a mistake, and instead of leading me in the right direction she chastised me in front of everyone and called me “stupid”. I was extremely hurt by this behavoir, and a couple of co-workers reported her to her higher-ups. Well she did tone it down for a while because the issue was addressed to her, but a few weeks later it started happening all over again. I started looking for new work, and found it and left. Upon leaving I told her I was leaving due to her attitude.

    Well it caught up to her. She had worked so hard to get to where she was, and because she did not want anyone else to share her accomplisments she berated her employees. Due to this fact, she eventually lost her job. The attitude that had gotten her where she was had eventually came back to haunt her, and I’m sure it started out as confidence and when given power she ran with it.

    Kylie  |  December 26th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

  • This is a great article and the comments are quite illuminating! It sure helps to know I am not alone.

    I started a job a bit over a year ago and there are two other women in the office who have been there, like 10 years and 19 years, respectively. These “lifers” I guess resent a new person. I have tried to make friends, share food, etc but I get the cold shoulder constantly. They are always jumping on ways to “find fault” with me and attacking me for petty little things. This is behavior I find appalling! Sometimes they will talk about me practically at the top of their LUNGS—shouting to each other between their cubicles as if I am deaf or something. Wow. After a year I gave up trying to be friends with them and now simply I am polite.

    It shouldn’t be relevant, but I could mention that they are both seriously overweight and so tend to “Stick together.” There is another woman in the office, but she is the sole female attorney and a lot younger than us. The bitchier one tends to bully her, too. In fact, she bullies everyone—even the attorneys.

    That’s the funny thing about the men in the office—they put on the big “macho” front but it serves some kind of passive-aggressive purpose, I think, for them to let the big bitch get away with her behavior and hostility. They could put a stop to it, but they don’t. The excuse is that she has been there so long and is so competent. But there are a lot of competent people in the field. Looking for work, mind you!

    I am tired of the backbiting and the stupid gossip and cattiness and needling. I don’t want to go complain to my boss because that will probably only exacerbate the situation. I need coping strategies….

    bluebird07  |  February 24th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

  • I know exactly what you mean Nataly. I am an attractive (not really young - 48) year old woman. I am confident, assertive, kind and loving and do all I can to help and to uplift other women I come in contact with. The women in my office are near the same age, not particularly attractive, and just cannot stand me. No matter how nice I am or what I do, the clique develops. Or, there is fierce competition against me and I am not even trying to compete — I’m just me! As a small example, I was walking through the office door today and held it for a woman who was exiting. She insisted don’t bother. I responded it was no trouble, I think it is polite to do that when you’re coming in the door. Her response: It’s not like I can’t open the door myself! And she was serious! She was miffed, that I attempted a gesture of kindness! I fell sorry for these women. Know that you’re not alone Nataly!!

    Sick and tired too  |  March 10th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  • Long before I owned my own business, I worked in a corporate environment and found that it was not for me. In 1964, the U.S. first became introduced to the term “Women’s Liberation” and here we are almost 50 years later still looking for equality in the work place.

    I no longer deal with workplace politics. I have assumed the motto “Rule Your Life.. Own Your Own Business”. By creating the company Pure-ECommerce.com, I help women every day take charge of their lives. I teach women how to empower themselves by offering an consulting process that teaches women how to run a successful online business. I encourage my clients to network with other entrepreneurs for added support. This allows for creating healthy professional business relationships because of a shared goal of success.

    There is nothing more liberating than taking the talents that so many of us women have by putting them to good use working for ourselves. If you are tired of the 9 to 5 and the workplace drama, consider a new career and let Pure-Ecommerce.com help get you started.

    Jennifer Varner  |  April 7th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

  • I work with a couple of woman at work that target me. I was promoted at work in took the position of one of the woman that I work with. They have worked together to over and over verbally and mentally harrass me. One of them was even heard saying how she was coming after me and coming hard…she is an office manager and believe it or not the other is a part time HR person. The have over and over turned me into the HR Manager, who surprise has been friends with the part time HR person for over 20 years and got her a job. The one sends me demading emails when the one person who reports to her over and over again calls off sick only for her to tell not ask like a professional person would do to help her. I no longer like my job, I no longer enjoy going and I no longer work any overtime. I have since taken on a part time job after my job so that I can’t stay over. They have threatened me to the point I have started a journal of each day and the way they act like slamming a door in my face when I’m 3 steps behind me, make comments so that others in the office hears them and send emails to my boss saying that I’m not doing what I should be. I am ready to go over my bosses head because I have brought this to his attention on several occassions and nothing has been done. I need help with this one. I’m a single parent and need my job.

    BECCA  |  April 10th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

  • This world has way too many bitchy narcissistic horrible women. I prefer the company of men, hands down, and if I was a guy, I would be full blown gay. No question. I have a lot of contempt for the types that are like my two older sisters. I can’t believe that I came from the same mom. I love my mom, but she sure had two evil daughters. I feel like their names should be Drisela and Anastacia.

    katharel  |  June 25th, 2010 at 10:16 am

  • I’m a 40 year old guy working in finance. Most of my bosses have been women. My experience is that most women in management simply don’t like female peers and will consistently undermine them at every opportunity. I think women in the workplace get away with behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated in a man, so they don’t like to have anyone around that they may pull them up on it.

    Michael  |  September 3rd, 2010 at 5:43 am

  • I am a woman pastor for the Lutheran church. Who would guess that there are “mean girls” in church? I am not talking about assertive go-getting women… but down-right mean. I have experienced yelling, screaming… and so on. Women sniping without saying “please” or “thank you” … ! Then, I figured something out. It is not “me” … It is “them.” Folks… men or women who have this kind of disorder are telling you … everthing about themselves and nothing about you. Something is missing in their life that you have figure out. I knew a woman who was 81 years old. She was an aweful mean “pill.” I invited her over for dinner then I told her, “You missed your call. Didn’t you? You spent your life taking care of your husband and your children… but you were called to do my work… weren’t you? You missed out and you are angry at yourself but you are taking it out on me.” I continued, “In your day you couldn’t do what I am doing, but be brave you can do it now. Go to the seminary sign up for a class that you might like … and audit it. You don’t have to take the class for a grade … just take it for fun. See if this is really what you wanted to do… why not? You have time?” What do you know about three or four weeks later this 80 year old woman was wandering the hall of our school taking a New Testament Bible class! Smiling … Happy… She gave me a hug. What??? People who are nasty and mean to you are even more nasty and mean to themselves. Can you imagine what is going on in their brain or mind? Try your best to be a “mirror” and reflect back to them. I am not saying that it will solve everthing but it may help.

    Debbie  |  November 16th, 2010 at 10:46 am

  • The lesion I have learnt lately is….

    The best thing to do i not let them affect you emotionally. It’s like a person firing a gun they to it for a purpose so don’t allow them to shot you down.

    Be proud of where you are and how you got there. But ladies whatever you do don’t let them bring you down.

    Kelly  |  December 4th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  • I am perfectly fine with a decrease in female leaders - having a female boss has always been hellish. Women simply cannot lead in a logical, consistent and unemotional manner, and that is bad for business.

    Angela  |  May 15th, 2011 at 9:59 am

  • I came across your blog beause I searched Google for “bitchiness in the workplace.” I started a new job two months ago and already I’ve had a fellow female coworker complain that she thinks I’m condescending, unfriendly, and an assortment of other unflattering adjectives. I can’t figure out what I’ve done or said to make her think that way and nobody, including my boss (who relayed the comments to me) can tell me exactly what the problem is - only that there is a “concern.” I’ve just been instructed to be nice, friendly, etc. (I thought I was). Today I held a door open for the woman and smiled at her and she flat out ignored me. I’ve heard from others that “that’s just the way she is.” I’m not sure why it’s acceptable to everyone that she treats people like that, yet they have no problem telling me to adjust my attitude. People keep telling me not to take it personally, but how do you NOT take it personally when someone makes judgement about you without knowing you, then acts like you don’t exist, which I think is completely disrespectful.

    Today, my friend and former coworker told me that one of her coworkers called her a fat bitch (loudly, to other people, behind her proverbial back). I don’t understand these attitudes. I never had this kind of problem working with men.

    Liz  |  May 26th, 2011 at 8:43 pm

  • I have personally worked with 40 woman clients in my design business over 20 years. All but three of these clients were either too controlling, undependable, unreasonable or emotionally unstable. Sometimes they just would even disappear in the middle of projects without paying their bills. I had to stop working with them because they cost me too much money. I don’t ever have this problem with men for some reason.

    Jill Larson  |  November 12th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  • All woman are bitchy, just different levels. The less involved ur father was, the more of a “b” you will be!

    Tim kalburn  |  November 19th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

  • I appreciate Nataly’s comments. There are many scenarios in the working place where women are competetive, form alliances against one another and are causing great harm to each other. The real horror is that many in authoritive and leadership roles do not address it and may even participate in it themselves.
    Over the years I have had the same experiences as you have had with women not wanting to help. As a new employee, I have had a long term employee grab papers out of my hand and tell me I couldn’t change anything from the way it was currently being done.
    One administrator would scream and yell and everyone walked on egg shells with the owner of the company would sit there silently and not intervene.
    I have also had the experience of being the long term employee and having mean women come in and manipulate, undermine, discredit and just down right “lie” to position themselves. Then we are asked why we don’t trust each other?
    We must work together , men and women, young and old. Everyone has insecurities but should not let those insecurities overcome you to the point of being hateful. If you need help with self improvement then get it. Everyone wants to succeed. If your success is a result of being a mean, unethical and dishonest person willing to disregard the feelings and hard work of others then you are an example of the self improvement this world needs to work on.

    Joyce  |  February 1st, 2012 at 9:37 pm

  • Hummm I see something else in your writing…..I am amazed that women still complain about not being in upper positions in companies. My previous job in accounting had a female in the CFO position. The only male leadership position was the controller.
    Finance director-female. AP and AR managers- female. Accounting supervisor-female. Under them was 5 males 4 females.

    To boot….6 pregnancies in the last 3-4 years. The males grumbled because the company didn’t hire any temps while the girls were on leave. I hate to say it but this article is kinda bitching. “I spent the last ten years of my career working in extremely male-dominated environments”….I don’t see this as much as I use to…..why keep bitching?

    Jenny  |  March 20th, 2012 at 7:37 am

  • I have encountered bitchiness throughout life, but am now misanthropic to the extent where I don’t really make much of an effort with either men or women, it isn’t worth the hassle.
    I admit I am one of those slightly sexist women who tends to prefer the company of males, as their conversation tends to be more interesting/ straightforward. All women basically seem to hate other women point blank and there is nothing you can do about it. I get jealousy from both men and women on account of my abilities in various fields, but again I have put myself in a place now where this does not matter to me or bother me particularly. My work does not involve liaising with other women too much, which I am grateful for (although the amount of bitching I hear from male colleagues is phenomenal). I stay out of workplace politics most of the time and say my piece when I need to. I am not concerned about being liked or otherwise, since I am fairly self-absorbed and the “job” I do to bring in money is not the centre of my life.
    I am attractive/childless and this is the reason for most of the jealousy from women. I have also had a lot of attention from married men at my workplace, but have made it clear that I’m not into workplace affairs(even though there is someone I rather like at my current workplace, I am very secure in my own self-control). This can also make things very difficult, since men, if they fancy you, will promise you all sorts of things, but if they sense there is nothing forthcoming, will quickly lose interest in you or patronize you. This is another reason why I won’t get married again, because I see all the hypocrisy going on around me, and it’s just not worth getting involved in. One of the boss’s female (married) friends who works at our organisation has something of a reputation for being the office bike, which I would not like for myself at all. I think the blokes really can’t come to terms with the fact I am attractive, but completely into the work I do outside the “job” and not into having a relationship at all costs. I think it throws them. I think they think all women think about is relationships. Unfortunately most of them do. My mum keeps on that one day I’ll meet someone again and have kids (because what she really wants is grandchildren and she seems to think it’s women’s duty to reproduce and be “cared for” by “Prince Charming” - yeah, dream on, love!) whereas my father is more realistic and doesn’t want grandchildren anyway, and is more supportive of me with regards to my career. I think this is where a certain antipathy towards women arises from in me - a lack of identification with my mother.
    I feel that really, in the end, everything boils down to me having faith in myself and being myself no matter what anyone else might think, as I have to preserve and protect that “space” which I occupy and which is mine BY RIGHT. I had a monstrous row with my (male) boss yesterday and I had to retaliate somewhat aggressively, with plain talk. I have got myself to a stage of self-possession where I just go out there and tell it like it is and say my piece, because if I didn’t steel myself, I’d just cry.
    I do admit that marching to one’s own tune is one solution (and my preferred one), but not for everyone, since it requires a large degree of mental detachment and self-absorption, and not everyone is wired that way.
    Maybe I am a little off topic, but I find some of the actions described above a very convenient way of dealing with not just women, but men and society in general. The female-female problem has always existed and isn’t going to go away, but as Raj Persaud says (I think): you can either change the other person (which is a lot more difficult) or you can change your approach to the problem (hopefully in a way that will be beneficial to you and not detrimental!) In his infinite wisdom, he says: “There is, I’m afraid, no third option!” (quote from “Staying Sane”)

    Karen  |  March 21st, 2012 at 11:50 am

  • I agree with this article. All my mentors and best friends in the office have been men. Women do themselves a great injustice by working against their own sex. That is why there are always old boys clubs and no old girls clubs. I agree that there are very few women in top positions because they try and crush any other women around them instead of supporting one another as men do. You always hear about male bonding but I have never heard of female bonding. Men are much better at working as a team, that is why team sports are all dominated by men. Can you imagine a bunch of bitchy women trying to play basketball or football and score a goal? As long as women are bitchy towards their own sex, they do themselves a great injustice because at the end of the day, even the men will support their own sex and ditch the woman at the top. To me, women will continue to play second fiddle to men in the workplace not because men are chauvinistic but because women who have become successful refuse to pass on their success and experience to their younger peers so it ends with them. Men are much better at passing on their legacy and make sure they protect their own. Poor women, when will they ever learn?

    B Burnett  |  April 25th, 2012 at 11:25 am

  • I completely agree with this and this goes more for the young late 20’s early 30’s newly college graduate women. These young women are awful to work with and usually have awful attitudes when it comes to helping people. If I were a boss of a company I would fire young women with the stuck up, I’m better then everyone and give give give me attitude cause I’m a woman. Just cause your a women doesn’t mean anything unless you can do your damn job and do it well, without snotty, stuck up attitude. Even if you did your job ok but had a shi**y, stuck up “i’m all that” attitude that brings everyone else in the company down and I would fire women with that kind of attitude. Older women with much years of experience are usually excellent to work for and with cause they generally don’t have that catty, I’m better then anyone attitude and they actually WORK.

    This also goes with single women that also carry that I’m hotter, and better than everyone else.

    M  |  April 29th, 2012 at 6:16 pm

  • Women like to gradually tear each other down in the workplace. It usually starts with petty little comments, like “you look so tired today, what’s wrong”, or “you look confused, you must not know what you are doing”…..they also set you up to fail by refusing to offer help or advice. These women who are often cruel to other women, are very nice and helpful to men. Its as though they hate other women in general. I am currently studying to become a teacher, and am having difficulty finding a woman who wants to mentor me in any way, shape or form. I’ve asked a few women I know who teach, and they just sort of dismiss my questions, or tell me “don’t go into this field” (they don’t want competition).

    Marjorie Hanson  |  July 8th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

  • I’ve never understood why sociopaths are seen by some as having confidence.

    These people usually have a defective self image, deep insecurity, lack of confidence, lack of ability, are self-absorbed, exploitive of others, dont feel empathy and are incapable of remorse.

    They try to manipulate or cheat their way up the corporate ladder. The bitching is their attempt to get rid of the threats or eliminate rivals from the game.

    As a general rule during interviews ask if the business has a HR department, if the managers have management qualifications and how they prevent toxic staff in the workplace. If they dont give adequete answers dont accept the job.

    Blood Lust  |  September 21st, 2012 at 5:21 pm

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