It wouldn’t be a completely perfect Tuesday if I didn’t start the day off with one of my favorite movies: Mean Girls. I promise, this has a point…
Gretchen: [to Cady] If only you knew how mean [Regina] really is… You know that I’m not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right? Yeah! Two years ago she told me hoop earrings were *her* thing and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. And then for Hanukkah, my parents got this pair of really expensive white gold hoops and I had to pretend like I didn’t even like them and… it was so sad.
In my 5th grade class, there was a little girl just like Regina. She was the ringleader, the head honcho, and we’ll call her Samantha… because that was her name.
Samantha and I had nearly this exact conversation. Except, instead of earrings, it was about socks. Samantha, the bossy britches of our 5th grade posse, told me I wasn’t allowed to wear knee socks because they were *her* thing. Little did I know that this was just the 5th grade manifestation of a very real business problem: queen bee syndrome.
The queen bee is a female boss who has zero interest in fostering the careers of women who aspire to follow in her footsteps. Not only that, but she might actively attempt to cut them off at the pass. The tyranny of the queen bee can be intimidating, exhausting and downright threatening to a woman’s career.
The Devil Wears Prada
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ok, maybe not…)
This problem perpetuates itself. Instead of nurturing young talent, these women defeat their competition with neglect and failure to recognize significant accomplishments. They’re doing it to protect themselves. Fighting tooth and nail to achieve partner status, become the executive director or even be the first woman in the office to get a promotion has made them territorial. Can you blame them?
Yes, I can. Their quest to become the alpha female hinders the success of other women. If we want to bridge the gap of gender in the workplace, then this needs to be an all hands on deck effort. Every woman for herself isn’t cutting it anymore.
What we need is collaboration. We need partnerships, alliances and encouragement. Women need to be each other’s mentors and sponsors. Without this, we will continue to walk to work uphill in the snow… both ways.
When women do spend time developing other women, great things happen:
65 percent of women who received career development support develop new talent (compared to 56 percent of men)
73 percent of those women develop other women (as compared to 30 percent of men)
64 percent of those at the senior executive level develop others (compared to 30 percent of individual contributors)
Not all women are developing women, but neither are all men. The main difference is that when men don’t develop others, it doesn’t reflect poorly on their gender. But when women don’t, it brings our momentum to a halt. Women need to start leaning in to other women.
In closing, to make sure your Tuesday is perfect as well, I leave you with words of encouragement from my second favorite movie, The Hangover. May you do everything in your power to extend your “wolfpack of one” by encouraging and developing other women in your organization:
Oh, and p.s.: Take yourself lightly and your work seriously. As you rise in the chain of command, don’t forget the ones who made you, ok?