May 14, 2009 07:22
Are women natural bullies? According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 60 percent of bullies at work are men, but they don't tend to discriminate which gender they bully. On the other hand, 70 percent of the victims of women bullies are women, reported the New York Times on Sunday. Most people are aware of it, but prefer to ignore it.
The New York Times, citing an executive consultant in Berkeley, California, Peggy Klaus, said the problem is as evident as a "pink elephant in the room." Women avoid discussing bullying because it is "so antithetical to the way that we are supposed to behave. We are supposed to be nurturers and supporters," said Klaus.
Why do women attack their counterparts? Gary Namie, research director for the WBI, said it is probably because the target women are "less likely to respond to aggression with aggression." Another possible reason would be a corporate environment that is harsher toward women. In 500 biggest companies chosen by the Fortune in 2008, women occupied only 15.7 percent of executive positions. Recent research from the University of Waterloo in Canada revealed that women feel it is unproductive to help female colleagues at work.
Some argue that women are taught to compete against each other, much like sisters competing with each other to attract attention from their father or brothers, or girls competing for their teacher's attention. Michelle Cirocco, director of sales at Televerde, a management consultancy firm in Phoenix, Arizona, told the New York Times, "Instead of building each other up and showcasing each other, we're constantly tearing each other down."
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