Study claims women aren't helping each other in workplace

May 15, 2012
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If you’re a woman trying to make it to the top at a law firm, don’t expect a high-ranking female leader to take you under her wing. A study from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that often women aren’t helping others break through the glass ceiling.

The researcher, Michelle Duguid, wanted to try to understand why there aren’t that many women in the top tiers of organizations. Dugid thinks women in top-level positions – who are often in the minority at their companies – perceive other women trying to advance as threats.
Female executives may fear that another woman with lower qualifications could reinforce negative stereotypes about women or may feel threatened by another highly qualified woman and worry she may be more qualified, competent or accepted by co-workers. The study found some female executives also didn’t want to appear biased toward other women, so they didn’t advocate for them.

Duguid believes that company leaders need to consider this study when it comes to attracting and holding on to a diverse group of employees. She suggests leaders should encourage female executives to identify with their own demographic group, which will help them manage work relationships and develop alliances and mentoring relationships with other women.

What do you think of the study? Have you found yourself threatened by other women in the workforce or do you think women tend to help others advance?
 

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