Female "Bullies" At Work: What Are These Pieces Really Trying To Say?

Illustration for article titled Female "Bullies" At Work: What Are These Pieces Really Trying To Say?

In January, the New York Times ran a piece about the "sisterhood" of "workplace infighting." On Saturday, the paper published "Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work." Perhaps the wimminz needs to stay at home?!?!


As the blogger behind the fantastic Echidne Of The Snakes writes: "This piece sounds to me like yet another in that long series the Times has: What Is Wrong With Working Women? These stories always create or magnify a problem and then offer anecdotal evidence on how awful the problem is." She continues:

To get to that point, the present article quickly slides by the facts: Men are more often bullies than women and if you work a little on those percentages you will find that male-on-female (heh) bullying is a larger percentage than female-on-female bullying. But never mind, we shall write about the latter!

Please note: The most recent Times story is based on a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (?!?), which was also the source of the January article. And the "expert," Peggy Klaus, interviewed in Saturday's piece, wrote the Sisterhood Of Workplace Infighting story in January. And! In March 2008, the Times did a story called "When the Bully Sits in the Next Cubicle."

Obviously, if there are women in the workplace, and there is bullying in the workplace, then from time to time, there are going to be women bullying women at work. But what is the motivation behind running panicky stories about ladies misbehaving at the office? Echidne notes:

If female bullies mainly attack other women because women are seen as easier targets, could it be that the same motivation underlies articles like this one? Attacking the Big Boys With The Moneybags is scary, as those moneybags make excellent defensive weapons.


There's no telling why the Times needed two bullying stories within five months, but in an economic downturn, doesn't focusing on the bitchiness and cattiness of ladies in cubicles seem rather cruel? Bully behavior, even?

Backlash: Women Bullying Women At Work [NY Times]
The Bully Boys Gals [Echidne Of The Snakes]


Earlier: Bullied At Work? Chances Are, The Abuser Is Another Woman
Bullies Are As Common In The Cubicle As The Classroom



My issue is that it's the same old...if a woman does it, ALL women do it tone...but if men do it it's an individual problem. Not a "male" problem, even if statistically more men are bullies and harrassing in the workplace.

What I mean is, people who have had a bad situation with a female colleague or boss will say things like "I'll never work for a woman again!" as though it's something that is now a universal truth for all women. But I doubt anyone would say "I will never work for a man again." One is seen an individual flaw, the other a gender flaw, probably because of the catty "mean girl" female stereotype.