I believe that when women work together, we get so much further. But I have realised over the years that just because you are a woman, does not mean working with another woman will be easy, or fun. In fact, so often the opposite is true – there are so many stories of ‘bitchy bosses’ or ‘gossipy girls’ or general ‘competitive catfighting’ whenever large groups of women are forced into a shared working environment. I have experienced this first hand – both recently when working with my female assistant where we clashed so horribly – and over the years in various forms of extremes.
This phenomenon doesn’t seem to exist amongst men – they appear to either get along or they don’t and they get on with it. In the way they seem to do with so many things, men are just good at compartmentalising things, letting go and moving on. Whereas women in the same scenario seem to get caught up in wondering why they don’t get along, and trying to establish exactly who is right/wrong in the situation. Perhaps it really is just as simple as ‘you can’t be friends with everyone’. That’s not to say you can’t learn something from everyone, or you can’t work with everyone, you just can’t expect that when forced to share an environment with someone, the simple fact that you share a gender is not sufficient basis for a friendship to form.
I’ve worked in male-dominated environments for nearly 6 years, so I still get excited when I get a chance to work with women, but that excitement is always tinged with a hint of fear and nervousness. Because when things go bad with women, they go really bad. They go bitter and bitchy and just plain mean. Even when you have good intentions, and think you’re being a good person, things can still go horribly wrong.
It’s taking me a long time to get my head around the fact that this does not mean I am a bad person. It does not mean I attract these bad things towards me. It does not mean I cannot have female friendships, or be open and trusting of the amazing women I meet. It just means I cannot expect that sense of connection with Every woman I meet. And I cannot expect that every woman will understand me, or my dark sense of humour, or my intense desire to succeed at everything I put my mind to, or my childlike excitement at the simplest sources of joy (like bookshops!). But some will. And that rewarding feeling should serve as a sufficient reminder that it is best saved for those who do.
Ps. As a lovely example of the wonderful way that women can work together, this post is the first to use one of the new beautiful images prepared for me by the amazingly talented Satrun twins! Sarah and Catherine designed and produced the ‘We Are All WonderWomen’ image I have used on the site, with their kind permission, and they have now produced some new logos that I love so very much!