What do you think of when I say this word: “Catfight!” If you said two women screaming at each other, you’re not alone.
In fact, according to a new study, everybody – that’s 100 percent of people surveyed - perceives workplace disputes between two women to be much more toxic and disruptive to the work environment - that’s compared to fights between two men, or between a man and a woman. Workers also believe that when two women square off, they’re 15 percent less likely to resolve their differences and move on.
Why are we so bugged by women fighting? The theory is that women are expected to be kind, nurturing, and supportive, especially to other women. So, when they do something that’s considered uncharacteristic, it goes against what we believe should happen, so, we view it more negatively.
And the language used to describe arguments proves the point. Consider this: A disagreement between two men, or a man and woman, is considered a disagreement, or even a fight. But when two women are involved, it doesn’t seem to matter what the argument’s about, it’s almost always labeled a “catfight.” Which may be why we can’t turn away from all those “Housewives” reality shows – where women are constantly fighting.
And the bias against female-female conflict may affect hiring and promotions for women. Because managers may unconsciously decide not to assign two female managers to the same department if they’ve had disagreements in the past.
So, next time you witness a dispute between two women, turn your expectations upside down, and ask yourself what you’d think if it was two men.