Ladies Be Catfighting in the Office

Illustration for article titled Ladies Be Catfighting in the Office

A new management study on workplace conflict by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that both men and women think office disputes between ladies are "more disruptive to office life" than fights between men or between a man and a woman.

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From the Wall Street Journal:

The scholars, Leah D. Sheppard and Karl Aquino, asked 152 subjects to assess three workplace conflict scenarios involving a pair of managers. The examples were identical, save for the names of the individuals involved: Adam and Steven, Adam and Sarah, and Sarah and Anne.

Participants were asked to assess the likelihood that the two managers would be able to repair their relationship and the effect of the dispute on team and company morale. The subjects, both male and female, consistently viewed the conflict between the two women in the most negative light.

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To be fair, my friend's friend's cousin knows Sarah and Anne and they are such bitches.

No, but really: why are conflicts between women construed as more dramatic than others? Has everyone been watching too much Real Housewives? On the contrary, said researchers. "Conflicts between women violate our norms of what is prescribed for women," Sheppard said. "We have this perception that women can be really catty and terrible to each other, but we don't think women should be that way. We want to see women supporting one another, because they are a marginalized group."

Hmm. Women are definitely under immense pressure to be nice and sweet and smiley 24/7. But we expect them to have mean-girl catfights, too, right? I don't think we expect to see women support one another because they are a marginalized group; unfortunately, more people are interested in tearing women apart than helping them join together. It's more likely to me that we think disagreements between women are dramatic because we're programmed to think of women as emotional and flighty; women who disagree are bitches while men who disagree are just, well, disagreeing.

According to the study, the bias against lady-conflict (ew) may affect hiring and promotions for women, and women may be more wary of speaking up against another female colleague if they think they might be thought of as catty for doing so. And thus the cycle continues.

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[WSJ]

Image via ots-photo /Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

violetgatesy
VioletGatesy

Women have very little leeway to act like a normal fucking person before someone brings up the woman card. Don't want to work 17 hour days for 4 months? NEEDY. Don't like the way Shawna is creating the deck? Catfight. Mean girl. You need something done immediately? Bitch!

And the thing is, yeah some women are bitchy or mean or needy, but so are men. It's just people use other aedjectives to describe them. I have a boss right now and as much as I like working for him, he gets so fucking pissy sometimes. And I swear to god, if he were a woman people would be bringing up PMS left and right when this happened.

We really, really need to stop tying womens actions at work to their gender unless it's really the reason they'r acting the way they are (which, you will see, aside from like being pregnant, women and men are capable of acting the same way). And if men aren't going to stop doing it, it's up to us to stop. Even if you think Lisa is a huge bitch, frame it in gender neutral language and ask yourself if you would feel she was a bitch if she were a guy.