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August 6, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Yesterday, I quoted this from Olga Khazan’s article in The Atlantic about women bullying women at work.

Joyce Benenson, a psychologist at Emmanuel College, in Boston, thinks women are evolutionarily predestined not to collaborate with women they are not related to. Her research suggests that women and girls are less willing than men and boys to cooperate with lower-status individuals of the same gender; more likely to dissolve same-gender friendships; and more willing to socially exclude one another. She points to a similar pattern in apes…

Benenson believes that women undermine one another because they have always had to compete for mates and for resources for their offspring.

Khazan dismisses the idea that biology plays a role in human behavior in two sentences, but the simple fact is that Benenson’s take on Khazan’s topic explains a lot more than any of the other experts she quotes. Indeed, it could explain it all.

After all, since time immemorial, hominid females have competed with one another for male attention. Begetting children with the right male greatly increased both the female’s and her offspring’s chances of survival. So why wouldn’t women be catty with each other at work?

Biology goes a long way toward explaining male behavior, so why not females’? Males have always formed coalitions (teams) for the purpose of establishing and maintaining territories for the benefit of themselves and the women and children in their group. That’s one reason men make good soldiers and teammates. Males who, for whatever reason, were sidelined from those coalitions had a hard time surviving and not infrequently were simply killed by the more dominant males. Males who “make the team” show considerable cohesion with each other.

Meanwhile, when it comes to sex, males are every bit as competitive with each other as are females.

So why wouldn’t male bosses treat female subordinates better than female bosses do? And of course that’s exactly what those female subordinates report.

Large surveys by Pew and Gallup as well as several academic studies show that when women have a preference as to the gender of their bosses and colleagues, that preference is largely for men. A 2009 study published in the journal Gender in Management found, for example, that although women believe other women make good managers, “the female workers did not actually want to work for them.” The longer a woman had been in the workforce, the less likely she was to want a female boss.

But that’s not a message Khazan wants to hear, regardless of how sensible it is. So she moves on. When she does, of course, it’s not in the direction of scrupulous science or even critical thinking. In order to answer her question about women bullying women, she’d have to establish that there’s a problem, i.e. that women, in some way, exhibit a tendency to do that. And yet she never makes the effort.

She’d also have to establish, in some rigorous way, how male bosses treat female subordinates, how male bosses treat male subordinates and how female bosses treat male subordinates. She’d have to then figure out if the differences, if there were any, were statistically significant. Only then would she be able to try to explain those differences, again if there were any.

But of course rigorous inquiry isn’t on Khazan’s agenda. No, she wants her readers to believe not only that women in some way are uniquely awful to each other, but also that “the workplace” must dramatically change in order to make better the lives of female workers.

But in fact, psychologists have been attempting to explain it for decades—and the sum of their findings suggests that women aren’t the villains of this story…

The fratty environment doesn’t seem that great for other women in her office, though…

But many other researchers think women aren’t hardwired to behave this way. Instead, they argue, bitchiness is a by-product of the modern workplace…

Instead, her hypothesis was simply that “women, like all human beings, respond to the situation they’re in.”…

But in the overwhelmingly male firms, competition between women was “acute, troubling, and personal,” Ely said. Compared with the women in firms where they were better represented, women in the male-dominated settings thought less of one another and offered weak support, if any.

And the beat goes on. Suffice it to say, Khazan is one of those feminists for whom the problem of women bullying women (if there is such a problem) not only has nothing to do with our evolved biologies, but also nothing to do with women. No, according to her, the entire workplace must be altered to make sure women don’t undercut each other. If men would just be different from the way we are, then women could be different from the way they are and, presumably, the Brave New World would be perfect.

The idea that we should allow women and men both to be the way we’ve always been is so beyond the pale that Khazan never even mentions it.

I’ll take that topic on next time.

 

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#feminism, #theworkplace, #bullying

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