Do women support the advancement of other women? Well, it seems, yes and no. The level of support is directly related to the scarcity of opportunity, the competitive nature of the environment, long standing ideas of gender normative behavior, and the influence of male discrimination in the field in question. The arguments in the text focus on women’s support of women in academia, however, these arguments are valid not just in academia, but in corporate life, and in any competitive arena where women are underrepresented. Specifically, in academia, it is proposed that “more women than men turn away from academic studies during their doctoral studies for three reasons: the characteristics of an academic career are unappealing, the impediments they encounter are disproportionate, and the sacrifices they have to make are great.” (Pienta, 2013, pg. 192) How can women support one another to move towards the goal of more representation in academia? Should they? Is it their responsibility?

This section will talk about if women support the advancement of other women. The section will focus on whether women support other women advancing in regards to academia. It will look at the support systems of women and how it affects their advancement. Also, it will take a look at how the social behaviors of women play a part in the advancement of other women. The section covers how some women display a nurturing attitude and others display a competitive attitude. We will view the topic from two different perspectives and see how it relates to women supporting one another. Background information will be provided as well as why this topic can be a controversial one and what society's general opinion appears to be today. It's important for us to think abut this for women because they are potentially tearing each other down for their own benefit or without even know hurting the self esteem of other women. If it continues it could affect the younger generation learning the same traits.


Women being supportive of one another when it comes to any type of advancement, whether it be in the workplace or otherwhere, will always face competition, mentoring, and discrimination. Typically, women are found working in male-dominated domains. When women began to advance in these types of workplaces competition is something that is almost always apparent. It is stated in "Taking Sides: Clashing views in Women's studies", that women are not typically viewed as the type to discriminate or compete against one another, but when working in a field with such high rates of men in charge, women are just that when it comes to promoting or moving up. When it comes to women supporting women advancement there will always be discrimination between each other. People tend to underestimate each other leading to the less and less support to one another. According to a study done by The University of Arizona, women are being more judgmental and hostile towards women than men. Women are more likely to be treated differently by other women when it comes to advancement because they are viewed as competition for the same resources resulting in women who adopt the "Queen Bee Syndrome".
Being a woman in a male dominating society and workplace is complicated. It’s already hard to compete with the male gender when it comes to trying to excel in a field, but when it’s against our fellow sisters, it’s a battle between supporting them or only help yourself to reach the ultimate goal. “According to Malveaux, the issue becomes more complicated among women of color who often find themselves disproportionately underrepresented in academia” (Pienta, 2013). Now you look at it like this, there are those women that not only get disadvantages because of their gender, but now add the fact that their skin isn’t white or they are a minority and the challenges rise just slightly more. That’s what weighs on women when its them against other females in the work place, but it isn’t always like that. “In contrast, Malveaux notes the role that other women played in her success as nurturing helpers who reached out to her over the course of her career” (2013). That’s when the roles of “The Queen Bee” and “The Nurturer” come into play within the society of women. When it comes to any advancement in a womans life that is being threatened by other women, its like women take it a lot harder and more personally rather if it were a man. Audre Lorde likes to call it “sister rage” when we are harder on ourselves and our fellow sisters when it comes to advancement.


The pieces that come together to create this topic are often related to competition and pride.
When it comes to women, many tend to not get a full education due to unexpected pregnancies or even planned pregnancies. With that it becomes a lot more challenging out in the work force because you are competing with other women and even men who could possibly have more education, experience or even a degree. In a group discussion that was held, It was asked " why are black women were so mean to each other" it was answered that most where raised by being the first and only. They also said that at times they didn't have anyone to teach them or help them learn so they feel as if others should be able to do the same as well.
Young women tend to have a stereo-type directed towards them relating to the fact that they cannot be taken seriously. Things like being "young and naive" are pointed to women in the working field. This is something that can cause separation, even between other women, in the work place. There is a phenomenon called the "Queen Bee" phenomenon. This commonly refers to the fact that, "Some senior-level women distance themselves from junior women, perhaps to be more accepted by their male peers. As a study published in The Leadership Quarterly concludes, this is a response to inequality at the top, not the cause" (McNulty). This is something that happens frequently nowadays, as women believe there is not enough room at the top to share. It's every women for themselves, per se.

Difficulty in being taken seriously is that women are often judged on appearance and behaviors that have no bearing on qualifications and experience. Bias against women occurs based on appearance. As stated by authors Pasquerella and Clauss-Ehlers “Women must be careful not to speak too quickly, too assertively, or in too shrill a manner, while being friendly but not sexual. The stylishness of one’s hair, makeup, nails, and dress, along with weight and body type, all appear to be fair game when it comes to assessing women’s leadership potential.” (Pasquerella, 2017, pg.9) A misstep in these areas can disqualify a candidate seeking a position before qualifications are even considered. A hurdle that men do not have to concern themselves with.
In many areas we see women working against the interest of other women who may not conform to the societal gender norms that they find protection and value in. The protection and value provided towards “worthy” women in a patriarchal society pits woman against women for the scarcity of that value and protection. (Pienta, 2013, pg. 29) Before we reach the workplace, we are comfortable and familiar with discrimination among women, even if we don’t recognize it. This concept plays out because there is still a sense that women should stick to “women’s work”. Even in employment they should fill the supportive and nurturing roles in business and academia. Some even believe that these concepts are biological and scientific and will never change. (Cooper, 2001) Women must acknowledge this bias in areas of everyday life such as women’s rights, reproductive rights, and equal access to law, education, a greater say in policy-making, and other factors of success as we begin to tackle it in the workplace, where inequality in pay, upward mobility opportunities, etc. still exists. This is before the intersection of race and gender are added to the milieu.
Unfortunately, women are affected by gender bias just as men are. In research conducted at Yale, the bias against hiring women for lab positions was essentially equal between male and female professors. Also, in a study conducted for the Wall Street Journal, it displayed that male candidates were offered positions based on potential, as opposed to previous experience. The opposite was true for female candidates. (Pasquerella, 2017, pg.8)

Another thing found in the workplace is that women do not communicate well with each other. This could be based on them not wanting to hurt their ego or pride. They may not reach out for help because they do not want to seem like they cannot handle things on their own or like they are behind rather than doing exceedingly well. Anne Welsh McNulty wrote in her article called, 'Don’t Underestimate the Power of Women Supporting Each Other at Work", that "Worse than being snubbed by the woman above me was the lack of communication between women at my level". After her first year of working at that company, 4 of the 5 women working in her section had been let go or had left on their own. McNulty realized that this was because they had not communicated with each other. She believed that the problems that arose could have been solved if they had just worked together, but instead they were all too invested in themselves. Situations like these arise more often than not and they do not show the amount of support that women are capable of giving to each other.

Finding support in academia already precludes scores of women without the opportunity or experience of employment in academia that would greatly benefit from mentoring towards professional and even academic goals. Broadening woman to woman support in all facets of life can ameliorate the discrepancies in the upper echelons of academia and corporate life. A wider network of women corporate and academic life can provide a larger pool of talent, resources, and approaches where more women can take advantage of opening doors. Instead of vying for limited resources, we can increase those resources.

Women of color represent 2 percent of academia. This is further complicated that women of color often have stronger negative reactions towards each other for an offense that, caused by someone else, would receive less negativity. This despite that those action could have a more detrimental affect on their career. This often leads women of color to leave the pursuit of academia altogether. Changing this dynamic would benefit all women who seek to shatter the glass ceiling in academia. (Pienta, 2013, pg. 193)

There has been a growth in women supporting women recently however. It is becoming more and more common as it has become a bigger topic. McNulty chose to make a move and wanted to make a difference on this topic in her situation. She began moving up in her career and made it a point to reach out to other women in her work-place. She began holding women lunches and had an open door policy to answer any questions other women may have had for her. Allowing a group to form where those women could talk about their problems and realize that often times it was not only them that ran into those problems. It allowed the work place to turn into a place of support for other women and relieved a lot of pressure and anxiety. More women are becoming supportive like this and it is changing the work place tremendously.

Today in the Topic

What is the current state of this topic?
I feel like women are supporting each other more than ever now. Social media has shown us that positive comments can go a long way. In todays society, you see a good amount of positivity and support on women's Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, and other social networking cites. It has become a more of a social norm to "spread the love" and lift other women up. Not only do you see female to female support on social media or in the work place, but you also see it a lot more now that we have a president who is pretty discriminatory towards women. More women have come together now to fight and protest for women's rights and equality. On January 21st 2017, thousands of women joined together to march on Washington D.C. to speak their voices on equal rights. Most of the reasons for protest were aimed at Donald Trump, following his inauguration. This march was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. As time goes on, women are going to realize that supporting each other will help them grow as a gender.

Reasons for Controversy

The topic of whether women support the advancement of other women is controversial. There are women who do support the advancement of people of their same gender. These women fought for the power they do have and understand how hard it can be to obtain it. However, they realize how hard they had to fight against the opposite sex, and even sometimes other women, so they want to help other women experience success. This would be an example of nurturing. “The nurturer shares, and takes pleasure in sharing” (Pienta 193). Some women want to help each other so they are not the only one of their sex in power so as not to be alone against the world. There are also women who do not support the advancement of other women. Some women had to push through every person in their way, regardless of sex, to get to the power and position they have. They may begin to feel threatened of other women in their work place because of this. Jealousy can cause this as well and can be something that is hard to get past. If a women has worked as hard as she has to get to where she is now, having someone new jump in and try to achieve the same goal can make them feel like they need to protect their position. They feel as though other women should have to get to power the same way without any help. They love the feeling of power and may not even want to share, even with another woman. They may not even necessarily be against women in general, but they are for themselves. These women may want to stay on top so why would they support other women trying to fight for the top as well. They want to feel secure in their position and with other women trying to work their way up as well, it can be frustrating and cause them to feel insecure and threatened, which in turn will make them not want to support the other women. This could also be a controversial topic because women are teaching their children that everything needs to be fair as a child and the child grows up thinking that in the workplace the woman making more money than she is isn't fair causing conflict. This could tear down a woman's self esteem or even affect home places. In the Ted Talk with Kris Stewart about "Relational aggression why women hurt each other" goes more in to depth about this. She also said that a way to avoid these issues are to stay calm and there are ways to rephrase a sentence that could possibly not provoke an issue with in the work place. Women also try to tear each other down because they are jealous of the accomplishments of the other. When this happens, it not only lowers the self esteem of the one being bullied, but it also makes the bully feel a sense of power to continue to feel better about their self. Women have said that they would prefer a man being over them than a women possibly because of the competition women feel towards one another to out do each other.
This topic is controversial in a number of ways. Is it fair for women to be expected to reach out to junior women in ways that men are never expected to simply because we are in a minority position? Are women expected to share the scares opportunities and resources because we are women? In truth, women leaders are not meaner to other women coming up than men are. Women are expected to be nicer, kinder, more nurturing, and display all of the gender expectations in their behavior. (Pasquerella, 2017, pg. 10) Are we not allowed to fully participate in the cutthroat competitive nature of some industries because we are women? Can we expect to fully reach the pinnacles of our male counterparts in all sectors of society if we have to share? It is not reasonable to judge women to take this approach in their professional life when they are spending their energies to attain success, though it is not necessarily helpful for other women in those same pursuits. On the other hand, Could the overall position of women be buoyed by the targeted mentoring of women by women, therefore benefitting all women as we strive for full equality? How do we choose? And how do we judge other women who make choices that we wouldn’t? Are both choices valid? Is it fair to even ask these questions when men aren’t burdened with the task of trying to figure this out?

Common Ground

In the end women are women and most are all parents and or young mothers. Women should always have each others back just because we all know what we mostly go through. Especially, when it comes to men. It is also agreed upon that typically the elders are the ones who we are supposed to be taught from because they have already experienced everything that we are just now going through. They have the " secrets" to life because they have already accomplished their own.

See Also

Back in Section 3.2- "Can Sex Work Be Empowering?" you can clearly see the competition of women and their work. The women who work together as partners and support each other in their careers might be the only women who support the advancement of their "coworkers". However, the majority of the field is entirely based off of competition. Women who work as sex workers have to compete for their career in areas such as appearance and performance on a daily basis.


Cooper, C. (2001). From Women’s Liberation to Feminism: Reflections in Accounting Academia. Accounting Forum, 25(3), 214. Retrieved from

Pasquerella, L., & Clauss-Ehlers, C. S. (2017). Glass cliffs, queen bees, and the snow-woman effect: persistent barriers to women’s leadership in the academy. Liberal Education, (2), 6. Retrieved from

Pienta, R. Taking sides (pp. 194-198).
Why women are meaner to each other than men are to women. (2018). Retrieved from
The Importance of Women Supporting Women. (2018). Retrieved from

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