New Rules for Women, available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982056982/):
The friendship rule of practicing equality can create confusion for women in the workplace in at least three different situations:
- When we are reluctant to compete with each other for jobs
- When we are reluctant to support each other because a colleague got promoted or has more education
- When we are reluctant to do the self-promotion necessary to get ahead in most organizations
Pat Heim and Susan Murphy call this women’s relational expectation the Power Dead-Even Rule. That is, we value (and expect) staying at the same level and not getting ahead of each other. Lois explained why she does not mention that she has a master’s degree:
I’m hesitant to say I have a master’s degree because it lowers the other person’s (woman’s) perception of you. She will think, “Who the hell do you think you are?” She will think you’re uppity, and she, and others, will be more reticent and not give you information and help. It’s important not to appear that you are tooting your own horn.
My clients often talk about their reluctance to apply for a position in their companies when another woman also wants the position because they’re concerned about damaging an actual or potential relationship. My study also revealed a strong theme about discomfort with advancing ahead of friends or colleagues and fear or actual experiences of the relationships not surviving such advancements. Of course, part of the problem is that our expectations are unconscious and unspoken, making it impossible to put them on the table and negotiate them. But once again, the feminine workplace values of a flat structure and equality crash into the hierarchical workplace to set us up for disappointment or confusion about what to expect from other women at work. We cannot advance if we don’t toot our own horns and compete for promotions, yet this can create problems for our relationships with other women.]]>