Many women place a strong value on supporting other women to achieve their ambitions as they pursue our own. This reflects a spirit of generosity and abundance – there is enough opportunity and need for what we each have to offer for us all to do well.
On the other end of the spectrum, not all women value the ‘sisterhood’, opting instead to pull the ladder up behind them as they climb, presumably because they do not think other women should have it any easier than they did. This reveals a fear-based scarcity mentality that views success as a zero sum game with only so much pie (power and admiration) to go around.
While this second group may be a distinct minority, they can cause immense anguish and injury as they reinforce negative ‘mean girl’ female stereotypes, fortify existing gender barriers and, on occasion, actively seek to undermine women whose influence they perceive as a threat to their own.
While there is no quick-fix remedy, it is important to remember that if these women were not so insecure to begin with, they would not need to pull others down in order to prop themselves up. It is important for women to remain resilient and never let someone else’s poor and petty behaviour be an excuse for their own.
Women must think bigger, beyond our personal agendas and ambitions, and recognize that we will go further and grow stronger when we give up comparing and competing and choose to pull in the same direction. As Janine Garner, author of ‘From Me To We’ said, “When women come together to support one another, it creates a powerful space for collaboration, innovation and the collective advancement of our society.”
Which is why it is imperative, you offer some small assistance to the women circling your orbit who could use your support in some way. Whether making an introduction, sharing a useful resource, posting a recommendation on Linked In or sharing a few words of praise in the presence of a decision maker – helping other women get ahead won’t diminish your position or power, it will enhance it.
A quick glance at the statistics on the state of women globally tells us that much work is still to be done to create an even playing field for girls and women. According to UN Women, women still only earn 60 to 75 percent of men’s wages globally. In line with that, the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report found that female economic participation and opportunity, while improving, still stands at only 60 percent. And this is in the face of overwhelming evidence showing that as more women are economically and socially empowered, communities, companies and countries are better off. Not just more fair and just, but richer and more prosperous.