Why women shouldn't expect any help from their friends

A survey suggests women aren't doing enough to support each other in the workplace. But then, are men doing any better?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 19 Sep 2012
It’s International Women’s Day – so MT wasn’t entirely surprised to find in its inbox the latest missive from David Saul, MD of serviced office provider Business Environment. This isn’t the first time Saul has felt compelled to speak out in encouragement of All Ladies Great and Small. Last time, he lent his support to the women (46%!) who want to be more like Margaret Thatcher. This time, he reckons it’s 'a shame that women aren’t supporting each other more in this day and age’.
 
According to research by the firm, 72% of women said they’ve judged their female colleagues on inappropriate dress, compared with 60% of men (interestingly, no word on how men judge their male counterparts), while –gasp! – 28% aspire to Richard Branson’s management style, compared with just 12% who want to be like Karren Brady. A third of women would rather be a jet-setting multi-millionaire with their own island than grimacing as Alan Sugar doles out insults to a group of cliché-addled wannabes? The force in the sisterhood is surely weakening.
 
Similarly 57% of women feel compelled’ to dress more powerfully to get ahead in business (as opposed to men, who turn up to the office in their pyjamas), while 36% wear more make-up’. More than what? More than when they’re asleep?
 
In fairness, the survey does make one or two findings that suggest being a woman in the workplace still isn’t easy. Of the 1,000 women and 1,000 men it questioned, 71% of women said they reckon it’s necessary to work longer hours to move up the career ladder, compared with 67% of men, while 64% said they work when they’re ill, compared with 59% of men.
 
Saul could barely contain his astonishment at that: 'It seems that women are just as competitive as men when it comes to getting ahead in their careers and they appear to hire and fire according to what’s best for business bottom-line, regardless of gender,’ he gasped. 'In fact, the evidence suggests that they will do everything within their power to advance their career – akin to their male business colleagues.’ Quelle surprise.
 
But all is not well in the sisterhood. '[Women have] made great strides over the last century to gain equality within the workplace so to hear that they are not helping each other advance their careers really detracts from those efforts.’
 
Do you hear that, ladies? It’s time to start taking this career stuff seriously. Do it for Saul. If you do well, he might even give you an encouraging little pat on the head.

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