#13 Work it Girl: Your Role New Power Women’s Club – Mean Girl, Networker, or Mentor?

RuPaul said it best:  Work It Girl

Are you working it? Or maybe pre-working it. Or not working it at all?

This is about deciding on your role….

Mean Girl.

Networker and Participator.

Leader and Mentor.

The New Power Women’s Network

As discussed in our online classes, there’s a New Power Women’s Network.

Why? Women = Money

In the “key stats” section of our online class we shared: that the Sheconomy is blazing. Thanks to things like:

  • Women’s rights, 
  • education, and 
  • deteriorating social stigmas / stereotypes

Bottom line: Women are gaining power and influence

What role are you going to play in this burgeoning community.

And what’s we hear about mean girls?

Why didn’t we hear this about men? Or did we?

It’s all so confusing.

#1. Women: Neurologically designed to connect. 

Dr. Louann Brizendine’s New York Times best seller, The Female Brain, tells us that from the time we’re babies we:
  • Value relationships more than almost anything else.
  • Can interpret social cues and alter our behavior depending on the reaction from people around us, starting as early as 18 months.
Thus, the “gap” between what we might expect from a female superior or peer, and what we encounter might be larger than the gap for a male. Not necessarily fair, but potentially true. Always TEST yourself. Think: “Would I be as disappointed if treated this way by a male superior (or peer)?” If the answer is “yes” then, you have a legitimate issue – NOT gender based – to resolve.

#2. The connection advantage

Women’s inherent ability to connect can be a major plus. The natural ability to reach out to others says, “I value you. I value your input.”

  • Multi-faceted, rewarding relationships. Is Power Networking with allies part of your day? If not, why are you sacrificing rewarding professional and personal relationships. What is more important, and why?
  • Sharing experiences. Experience sharing is a tool used by million-dollar entrepreneurs and top-level executives. Connecting offers this opportunity, over and over. It is also rooted in many cultural oral-history traditions right up through Facebook. Any way you look at it, connection is key. Are you doing it?
  • Above and beyond Can we eradicate the Mean Girl syndrome? Can you go above and beyond as a leader and – by reaching out – take a positive step versus a neutral or negative one. What is behind “Mean Girl Syndrome?” Is it a power struggle anchored in lack of confidence?
Share your experience with the Power Women’s Network. Have you had a meaningful (or a nightmare) experience in reaching out?

Related links / stuff:


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4 thoughts on “#13 Work it Girl: Your Role New Power Women’s Club – Mean Girl, Networker, or Mentor?

  • Ru Paul can certainly work it! I appreciate the spirit of Ru Paul’s “Work it, Girl” as a catalyst to getting in a confident frame of mind when entering a networking situation. Thanks for the fun video.

    To answer the question about Mean Girl syndrome, I’ve met women (and men) who have this Mean Girl syndrome and encountered it mostly while still in and recently graduated from grad school. In the industry I’m in, there wasn’t a formal education system 20 years ago for what I do. So, now, there are those who have 20 years experience who gained that experience by figuring it out along the way and being in the trenches. Then there are those who have maybe a few years experience or less, but have a high-level Masters degree. So some of the seasoned and highly successful professionals are not so friendly to the next generation of upcoming professionals. One, there’s a sense of “We had to figure this stuff out on our own” along with “What you know is all book knowledge and not practical experience so you may have a degree, but you really don’t know how things really are.” Sure, the young professionals with degrees don’t know what they don’t know – and some of them think they know or are entitled to a lot more simply by holding that degree (and I can say this now after having graduated a few years ago and gaining more experience), but there is no excuse for being a Mean Girl on the part of the person with 20 years experience.

    I also beg to differ that Masters degrees are all book knowledge since they do require practicum experience, internships, group projects, and consultant projects with organizations in the industry as part of the curriculum. Once time, while at a conference, after being introduced to an industry professional as being in grad school, he made such a comment. After I explained some of the group and consultant projects I’d worked on, he was surprised and rescinded his comment. It’s important to have confidence in one’s experience and play a role in reshaping misperceptions.

    I do think that Mean Girl syndrome stems from a perception of being threatened, a desire to protect “what is mine” (which can include certain relationships), and from a perceived sense of lack or not enough to go around (which can include a lack of self-confidence). If a person embraces their own value because they in fact perceive themselves as having value, then they are more likely to be confident in sharing themselves and that value with others – knowledge, skills, time, ideas. Along with that, they are more likely to see value in others also. I am extremely grateful to have found a woman more than 20 years my senior who is extremely skilled in the field and also confident in her abilities, highly respected by others, and also willing to share with me her experiences and mentor me without seeing me as a threat. I highly value this relationship and have a deep respect for her and know the sentiment is mutual. More experienced women who mentor younger women have allies and advocates for life and increase the likelihood that the younger women will pay it forward, creating a beautiful cycle (and ultimately breaking the cycle of the Mean Girl).

    • This is a great perspective Helen. The tension between “non MBAs / Masters folks and “Masters people” is a good one. One thing I’ve noticed, and it has been reinforced for me by several senior executives, is 1) Focus on being a good team player and 2) Focus on results. When I think of it this way, it is very clarifying for me and to communicate with my team. When someone holds out a master’s degree as “I’m better” (even if this is a perception on the part of someone else receiving the information), that’s when stuff gets complicated. I think it’s just as well to literally never mention the degree, and just focus on being a team player and producing results. That will speak for itself.

      I have nothing to say for people who would rather judge, than try and understand, the next generation. To me, they are just lazy. I am confused by Gen Y, and I teach them for G*d’s sake! But, I just keep working to try and figure out approaches. They are kind of fascinating to me in that way.

      Re Mean Girls – yes, it’s such a territorial behavior. That’s an interesting way you framed that. It’s like extreme defensiveness.

      Thanks for your response!


  • The Mean Girls are definitely out there and I too have encountered more than my fair share. I feel they exist because of a combination of the factors you cited above in the blog post. I remember reading somewhere ( I wish I could remember where!!) about a theory that links it to the dynamic of the male-female relationship. They referred to a woman’s fear of another woman “stealing” her man – and that she feels the same kind of fear over her career/status. That having been socialized early on to feel that our purpose is to find and hold onto our knight in shining armour, and that other women will always pose a threat to that relationship (ie. “she’s gonna steal my man”), then basically *other women* cannot be trusted – with anything we work hard at getting and fear losing. It may not be exactly as I remember but it was along those lines. It may or may not be way off base but it definitely gave me food for thought.

    Yes, I believe women value relationships but with Mean Girls (in my experience) there is a tendency to go all out to “save” someone who’s fallen in the ditches (ie. a girlfriend who’s going through a bad breakup, a friend who’s ill, an unemployed friend who needs a job to get back on her feet), yet the same inclination is virtually non-existent when that same girlfriend has a win. They don’t champion her when she’s on a high because, although they want her to be well, they don’t want her to look better than them and garner all the attention. We, as women, are always fighting hard to be ahead in every facet of living, but with Mean Girls there’s a level of insecurity that was unfortunately nurtured throughout their lifetime that they can’t easily let go of.

    So what can be done? I can only think of something that is within my control and that is meaningful to me, so I look at how I am raising my three young girls and how I conduct myself. I try to instill in them that the talents and abilities they have are gifts worth sharing, and that any success we have in life will in large part be because of gifts that others have shared with us along the way. We have a lot of discussions about the different types of bullying, and that they take on many forms that can seem quite passive and subtle, yet incredibly damaging and hurtful. My hope is that they will take these talks and lessons with them into womanhood and into their careers.

    Oh and Mean Boys do exist as well, but somehow they can fight be nasty with each other and still go out for beer together at the end of the day!

    • You may have read this study:


      “….Thus, when we examine behavior patterns such as gossiping, backstabbing, and a focus on physical appearance as characteristics of female intrasexual competition, it is important to keep in mind that raising the biological/innateness argument in no way legitimizes the inequities that they inherently create under normal environmental circumstances. Doing so only serves to perpetuate the patriarchal society that men and women have shared in creating, but for which most agree needs to be adapted to eliminate the conspicuous inequalities apparent in modernity.”

      The bottom line is that the feminist community and others has been examining for a long time the idea that competitiveness is a carry-over from hunter / gatherer days when competition for male attention meant survival.

      So the paper advises us not to use any argument about a biological predisposition as an excuse, and that – ding ding ding – and that competition among one another only weakens us. THIS IS A KEY POINT! Don’t miss this meeting ladies.

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