Scientists are finding that women feel their relationships with women will suffer if they compete with each other at work. Those feelings may force women to miss out on going after big career opportunities. One study revealed that women who went up against other women reported higher levels of feeling nervous and insecure. Men competing against men said they felt excited and energized. Women competing with men didn’t say they worried that their relationships with the men would suffer.
“When women had to compete with other women, they often felt like their relationship was negatively impacted,” says Selin Kesebir, Ph.D. “Those feelings may lead women to avoid situations where they’d have to compete with female coworkers or to not compete as vigorously.” Kesebir is an assistant professor at London Business School who has studied the effect of competition on women’s relationships.
The causes of women’s reluctance to compete against other women has several causes, scientists say. There’s a scarcity of female leaders. Girls growing up aren’t exposed enough to healthy competition. Workplaces tend to be cutthroat rather than cooperative. Kesebir reports a phenomenon that sees women actively undercutting other women to prevent their advancement at work.