Women & Sabotage at Work – Is it Us (well, some of it)?

Do women deliberately sabotage themselves, and each other in the workplace?

Much is documented about the way women behave at work and frankly I find the scrutiny a little overwhelming. I began thinking about self-sabotage and women in the work place and found all is not straightforward. Self-sabotage, imposter syndrome, women sabotaging women, bullying, under-selling ourselves, under-negotiating… I found a much more complex issue resulting in bemusement and confusion.

This led me to my next thought : ‘is it us’? Well, let me re-phrase – is it us sometimes? I am not attempting to be inflammatory but are we sabotaging each other as well as ourselves?

This train of thought led me to reflect on my own journey and an experience very early in my career with two very dominant and powerful female personalities who played a major role in shaping the next decade of my career. No, again, I feel the need to re-phrase. These women didn’t shape my career, I did. But my reactions and decisions in response to their approach to our business partnership altered my path for a number of years. Partly this was my lack of maturity and experience, and probably some imposter syndrome; but ultimately it was the way they approached business relationships (both internal and external) that shocked me.

Even as I contemplate how this story evolved, developed and finally concluded (along with the angst it caused me at the time), I wonder if my expectations of ‘sisterhood’ and mentoring were simply the result of my own construct of feminism and how women should work together. Did I create my own barriers to success by not being able to assess and maybe understand how to adapt my expectations? Or was I right to be shocked by the sabotage, whispering and backstabbing amongst my own?

I feel a little naïve in the simplicity of my ideology but I don’t think my view has actually changed over time. I am certainly wiser (a little) but ultimately, I suppose I am optimistic that as workplace cultures shift to be more inclusive my original construct will flourish and articles and theories on sabotaging ourselves, and each other will no longer exist.

Posted by Felicity McLaughlin

This is the latest in a series of articles about career development for women. If you would like to discuss your own career options, please contact Bravo Consulting about how we can help you achieve your career goals.

BonnieSue Nevin

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