Mean Girls Stink

I have something to confess. 

Working with some women annoys me to no end. I absolutely cannot handle that catty, backstabbing, two-faced behavior that immature, insecure or threatened women display. I can’t and I’m not apologizing for it.

We’ve seen this discussion before from fellow Woman of HR, Laurie Ruettimann, who wrote about women’s behavior in the workplace. For the most part, we do stick together – at least around here. But in every team there’s the one person that feels threatened or is less confident than she’d like. From my perspective that woman has a choice to make: Do I deal with these feelings by myself and work through them like an adult or do I take it out, intentional or not, on the person I’m threatened by?

Directing feelings of insecurity at the person that makes you feel that way doesn’t help the situation. Yes, you may feel vindicated for about five minutes when you get to cc: the boss on a perceived mistake or prove the person wrong in a meeting – but that doesn’t help in the long run.

Here’s my advice on what does help: talk to the person that makes you feel this way. Maybe that person doesn’t even know they are doing something to bother you. Maybe you’ll find that you like the person and can learn from them. Or, maybe your fears are confirmed and the person is a crazy bat out to get you and you make plans for a cat fight in the back parking lot at 5:15 p.m. sharp. Who knows? What can it hurt to talk out your problems like civilized professional adults?

For the most part, I love working with my fellow professional women. It can be a strong and empowering team. But it only takes one threatened or insecure team member for that strong force to come crashing down.  

Don’t be that one.

Photo credit Google Images and Wikipedia

About the Author

April Dowling

April Dowling, SPHR, is an HR Professional in Birmingham, Alabama where she works as an HR Generalist in the Insurance/Health care industry. She’s currently having a torrid love affair with technology and how to leverage it to make her professional and personal life better. April writes her own blog over at PsuedoHR and you can connect with her on Twitter as @adowling.


Judy Lindenberger

Great post. In my experience, women can revert to middle school bullying at work and while serving in any position that is perceived to have power … like on a school board, PTO, etc. I am about to step down from a three year term on my local school board. In the last year, one female board member, who is upset that I was voted VP not her, often whispers and passes notes to her two friends on the board when I speak. I told her quietly that I find it distracting when she does that and she screamed at me. The board president wrote an email to the entire board asking that note passing and whispering during board meetings stop (not only is it distracting it is also an ethics violation) but it seems that she cannot stop herself. It makes her look bad to other board members and to members of the public (our board meeetings are televised). My advice is to never step to that level as a woman. Be professional, mature and respectul, and stand up for yourself.


Great post! I’ve recently had my first Mean Girls experience at work and boy I couldn’t believe how much this type of behavior and unhealthy (and unprofessional) relationship can impact productivity. Unfortunately, I was on the receiving end being the direct report of someone like this, which makes opening up that conversation much more challenging that I failed to do it, only to have it pronounced on my own evaluation! It’s work folks, it shouldn’t make you feel like an emotionally abused child. Truly a lesson learned, everyone deserves to have this conversation.

Buzz Rooney

Great post! I’ve mostly worked in male-dominated workplaces and I enjoy it. Certainly, men have their own high school antics in the workplace — but usually not the mean girl shenanigans. Insecurity leads to unhealthy comparisons and competitions. It’s unfortunate that we don’t make greater effort to support and celebrate each other.


I couldn’t agree with this post more. Let’s all be adults and work together for the good of the company and who knows, we might just learn from each other instead of feeling like we have to out do each other.

Kimberly Roden

Great post April and unfortunately real life. I was just chatting with a co-worker about this very topic and we both agreed that we preferred working with men. When I asked her why she thought women weren’t supportive of each other in the workplace, she felt that since women were already under pressure to compete with men, that women felt they have to “one up” other women to stay ahead. Ahead of what though?!

I agree with your conclusion 100%. We have choices each and every day. The choices we make can impact our overall reputation in our field or at our organization. It’s worth a 10 minute heart to heart chat to find out what the real facts are before doing something that you may regret later. It’s not easy and it’s a risk but it might shed a lot of light on how you feel about the other person.


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