"We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women´s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her recent May speech to Barnard´s Graduates.
To achieve that goal, isn´t it about the highest time for business women to stop undermining each other and beginning to think of other females as allies, to build each other up instead of tear selves down?
Isn´t it the highest time to build professionally supporting women role models, people can talk positively about, unlike the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the Republican Senate candidate in California, who did not get it during a 2010 TV interview, and instead of attacking her female opponent Boxer´s political record, she went after the senator´s hair style - thinking her microphone was off.
Why on Earth are the highly educated, hard-working, intelligent women so scared of their female colleagues? Why are they sabotaging careers of each other? Why are they not supporting one another in business as much as men do?
According to Susan Shapiro Barash, teacher of gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College and author of several books - e.g. "Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth About Women and Rivalry", "It´s a dirty little secret among women that we don´t support one another." In the predominantly male society, women have the scarcity feeling, that there´s not enough to go around for them. This perception leads to jelausy and resentment among women fighting for a smaller piece of the pie. "If you´re the gender that yields the power, you don´t have to feel that way," Barash said.
Her research has revealed the age aspect as well: "I found that women would not befriend women who were eight or 10 years younger than them because of the competition. But someone who´s 28, if they were 58, they wouldn´t see that threat because they were going to be gone by the time that woman rose through the ranks."
For a start it would be enough if women stopped focusing on their gender and rather looked on the bigger picture, visualizing that there is plenty of abundance and possibilities for all. Feeling more confident in themselves and in their abilities, not minding to ask for a favor, being able to forgive and handle rejection as well as being able to offer an extended hand to other women in need.
Even though there are now already few dosens of women who actively promote, support and develop other female, we still have a long way to go in general. There is a chance for us all to do something more than we do at present. Leadership starts with each of us.
And if you look for role models in supporting others women up - read my blog about Sheryl Sandberg: Google Made Her Rich, Facebook Made Her A legend.
P.S. Note: Evolution of women through ages is well explained in Terry Prone´s book "What Every Working Women Should Know .. .And Do " in which she - among other topics - also investigates the history of lost trust among women. She has made an interesting link between women rivalry and the 15th - 16th century´s movement against witchcraft during which approximately one million women across Europe were executed based on the testimony of other women who were under the Church´s grace. And because the characteristics of so-called witches i.e. infidelity, ambition and lust (exceptional beauty was dangerous.) were vague and hard to prove, they were fatal to many women, even though perfectly acceptable in a man. The Prone´s learning is that "A man may kill you, but a woman may betray you to him. "
Facebook´s COO Sandberg Speech - The Women Of My Generation Blew It So Equality Is Up To You Graduates