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Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Catfight in the Boardroom - Jan 25, 2007

Catfight in the Boardroom: Why Women Undermine Other Women

January 25, 2007

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Although most women are lucky enough not to work for a boss like Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada, many women in today's work world continue to complain that some of their most difficult challenges are from other women. Here to tell us more is Channel 21 News Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: Do women seem to undermine other women?

Dr. Sylvia: One of the top complaints of most working women is the lack of unity among our gender. The competition between women can be vicious with one woman literally conspiring against another. Jealousy, envy, and fear can be big motivators. Unfortunately, there seems to be a common pattern of criticizing women who have broken ranks and succeeded.

Q: What are the most common ways women undermine one another?

Dr. Sylvia:

Exclusion and Silence: Women use the exclusion technique most heavily when they want to send a message. In the work world, she will exclude you from lunches, meetings and e-mails and then pretend that it is not a big deal. If a woman fails to talk to you, there is a good chance that she is really angry or intent upon rejecting you. Her silence is an attempt to undermine your sense of sanity and to control your mood.

Grudge Holding: Women are notorious for holding on to every perceived slight. They lash out when they feel they have been neglected or criticized.

Catty Comments: Gossip is an insidious but pervasive pattern in female competition. Focusing on perceived failings, imperfections and comments are all ways to undermine credibility.

Q: Are women as competitive as men?

Dr. Sylvia: Women invented competition! Open competition has often been avoided by women, but the work world demands assertion of your own agenda. Competing with others is unavoidable. It is how you compete that differentiates female bullies from the good women.

Q: How does male competition differ from female competition?

Dr. Sylvia: In the past they were extremely different. Men would aggressively pursue what they want while women were more likely to take a subtler path of sabotage and political undermining. Now with the newer generations, the research is revealing that young women are every bit as "in your face" as their male counterparts. They are unapologetic about competition.

Q: So does one woman's success threaten other women?

Dr. Sylvia: Female psychology is grounded in a major tenet of "sameness." In psychological, linguistic and developmental studies, little girls and big girls emphasize their commonality. To be different can be viewed as a rejection or as an exclusion of others. Women who are accomplished can often be seen by other women as thinking they are better than every one else. Unfortunately, the successful woman may feel hounded and punished for her accomplishment.

Q: How does a successful woman cope with this?

Dr. Sylvia:

Find Your Friends: Many women in business tend to quickly seek out a few male and female allies and protect their own interests along with their colleagues. They are supportive of everyone around them.

Women Friendly Businesses: She may also be more likely to succeed if she seeks employment in a business in which other women have already succeeded. For example, one study found that in a law firm with an equal portion of female senior partners, the subordinate women found the senior women receptive to mentoring and supporting their new careers.

Own Her Business: Nearly 10.4 million firms are now owned by women, employing almost 13 million people and generating 1.9 trillion in sales. Majority women owned businesses grow at twice the rates of all firms. Own your own business and hire fabulous women to work for you!

Bond with Other Women: Without exception, the most important thing a woman must do in business is to bond with other women. When women help one another, they all succeed. When we fail to help another woman, we are all diminished.

Q: Do you think these patterns between women will change?

Dr. Sylvia: I absolutely do believe they will change in the next decade or two. For thousands of years, women had to compete for a limited number of resources. Now we are learning that every woman can win at the same time. For those of us at the top, we must hold the ladder for the women coming up behind us. "If she wins, I win," needs to be the motto of America's future female leaders.