How Mentoring Helps Debunk the Myth of Female Workplace Rivalry

Written by
Mia Barnes
Published on
September 26, 2023

Workplace rivalry can appear in many circumstances, but one of the most commonly perceived dynamics is between women. You might feel like you sometimes need to compete with other women to achieve a particular position in your workplace, but that isn't true.

Women need more representation in top positions in the workplace. You could gain experience and value from a mentorship where you work with other women than seeing them as your rivals for an opportunity.

What Is Female Workplace Rivalry?

Female workplace rivalry — though mostly a myth popularized by fiction — is based on a scarcity mindset. Some women might think there won't be a position left for them if another woman is doing better.

Only about 15% of America's CEOs are women, so some women understandably worry about missing out on a chance that seems too rare. Some women may think there won't be enough room for them at the top if another woman succeeds. As a result, they may see one another as threats to their success.

It can be more difficult for women to achieve their goals in an office or executive setting if they think they have someone to compete against. In most cases, female workplace rivalry is only used as a plot point in movies and has little basis in reality. Still, if it’s all a person has seen, they may start to see other women as rivals, and may not want to get to know or even work with others.

Some common examples of workplace rivalry include:

  • Being unwilling to discuss ideas with teammates for fear of someone stealing them.
  • Taking on too much work to impress the higher-ups.
  • Treating coworkers of the same gender worse than others or displaying signs of passive aggression.
  • Increasingly toxic motivation for the sake of doing better than someone else.

One great way to combat these feelings is through mentoring, which can bust the myth that all women in the workplace see one another as rivals. More women in executive positions mean more women as decision-makers and more inclusive teams are twice as likely to meet financial goals than their counterparts. Every employee’s aim should be to uplift others while continuing to try their best — and maybe finding a mentor to help them.

What Does Mentoring Mean For Women and Businesses?

A mentor typically has experience in the areas younger workers or those new to the career lack. They can help people understand concepts and set goals that can help their mentees advance. Over 90% of people have greater job satisfaction when they work under a mentor, proving their advice can help anyone feel more comfortable in their positions. At the same time, job satisfaction means fewer people may look for 

If you have a mentor, you’ll be more likely to focus on your goals rather than what everyone else is doing. They can remind you of the next step of your journey instead of coveting what others have. A mentor is there to help a mentee through every obstacle, including things the mentor may have faced at that stage in their career. It provides a welcome opportunity for both p to learn new things while helping their business profit.

Mentors can pull new team members further into the team to contribute their ideas. By working with other people, over time, newer employees should understand their team members are there to uplift them. Likewise, a mentor can advocate for their mentee, and let supervisors know when they’re ready for a big or sought-after project. When younger team members feel valued, they may stick with the team longer, increasing retention.

Every employee should be able to search for and acquire a mentor if they want one, but they may need help figuring out where to start. One advantage of a designated mentorship program could be faster onboarding for new hires, allowing them to feel more comfortable and confident with their new duties. Mentoring might look different for certain people, but it shows female workplace rivalry doesn't have to exist and may not be as common as some think.

Mentoring Is Crucial for Women in the Workplace

Everyone wants to see each other grow, but it might be difficult for some people to work well when they think others are taking opportunities from them. Female workplace rivalry may happen occasionally, but thanks to mentorship, fewer might consider one another threats to their success. When you work with other women and help one another overcome obstacles, you can build an environment of love and support rather than competition.

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