Why are women so hard on each other? What keeps us from promoting and sponsoring more women so that the leadership ranks are more diverse? When will women leaders realize that by saying they’re more comfortable working with men, it’s an indictment of them as a leader – it’s not an indictment of other women.

This critical eye that women bring to the workplace/profession is driven by what I call “Stiletto Justice.” That 3 inch heel can, and often does, step on women! The “stomp” comes from those at the senior level who should be sponsoring females to those who are climbing the ladder. It’s really
women undermining other women
and unless it’s stopped, 30 years from now we’ll still be looking at less than 20% of Fortune 500 corporations being run by women. We have seen the enemy and it is indeed us!

When a female professional says, “I have more male friends than female friends as I don’t get along with women,” they are perpetuating the eternal myth that women can’t work together; that women engage in “cat fights” and that women are nasty to each other. I was listening to a professional share insights about a recent panel discussion on gender equity where women were asking the men why there weren’t more females in senior positions. Everyone seemed stunned when the male leaders shared that senior women were raising the most objections to other women being promoted. Why are we stunned?

We’ve known for a long time that women can be very judgmental when it comes to another woman. There are often comments about hair, dress, Stiletto Justice_happy womanstyle, life choices (especially between Moms who work and those who won’t) and other non-business aspects. Do we really ever hear a man make these kinds of comments in an undercutting way? Don’t think so, or let’s just say, it’s very rare.

What started all of this undermining and non-supportive behavior between women? Yes, we can blame the media and culture for setting unrealistic expectations for women. And, we can blame social media for exploiting this culture. However, at the end of the day the “mirror” has to be placed in front of us – women leaders.

It’s okay to not like someone – that’s chemistry. It’s not okay to continually perpetuate the myths (as mentioned above) that create barriers to women’s progress. We’re not in high school or college anymore – work and careers are not about sororities; it’s not about popularity contests. Work and careers are about inclusiveness and contribution; and, at our best, it’s about women sponsoring other women and publicly showing support, knowing that there may be issues privately.

It will take all of us working together and supporting each other to demonstrate that women can – and do – work successfully and productively together. We all need to be part of the solution and not part of the myth building.