Posted by: juliamerritt1 | April 2, 2020

Women Supporting Women

Women should support other women. This is just a fact. Yet, society has taught females that in order to be successful, you must be competitive because having a position at the top is so scarce. So many films portray this aspect of women competing and tearing down other women as if it is their only option to the top. Other films like “Mean Girls” simply show these female characters completely tearing down, and bullying other girls for things like popularity and power. Not to say that the film wasn’t enjoyable, but it definitely doesn’t send the right messages to younger girls. Things need to be done to reverse this stereotype and that begins with women supporting other women. Women feel enough criticism from men, they don’t need even more from women. 

I found an article by Forbes explaining the benefits of women supporting women. Forbes says that for women, more power and change will come from collaboration. The stereotypes society creates that pin women against each other need to be removed from society so that women can be seen in a better light and be more able to make change. Research has shown that while both genders benefit from having a network of connections, women who have an “inner circle” of close female contacts are more likely to be promoted, have more authority, and get higher pay. This may be because the relationships being formed are authentic and the women joining together are going through, or have gone through similar obstacles and are able to work through these challenges together. Interestingly, there was no link like this with men and the composition of their “inner circles”. I thought that this was really interesting especially because men’s inner circles didn’t really have an effect on their success. The article also suggested advice to women looking to find their close network of female professionals.

There has been a shift in society to push for girls supporting girls. A lot of celebrities have voiced their opinions on this matter and organizations have been launched with this very goal in mind. There are tons of books, podcasts, and films pushing for women to be friendlier to other women so change seems very possible. Women alone have the ability to have so much power, but it seems like together they will be able to make an impact. Some questions to leave you with: What other movies can you think of that show the stereotype of women having to compete with other women for an executive position? What changes do you think should be made so that women will support other women?


  1. As I was reading this post, I immediately thought of the “Bring It On” franchise. There are quite a few of those movies with essentially the same plot, yet they all did pretty well. These movies tell the story of cheerleading teams from different squads or schools that are competing for some kind of championship. The team captains and their best friends on their squad are always fighting with the other team captain and her friends. Even though they eventually either team up and win, or the main character’s team beats the other team in the championship, there is still a lot of catty behavior happening.

    Something that definitely needs to change is the media’s representation of female relationships. Not only do movies and television shows have women who are always fighting, commercials and other media have it too. Since media plays such a prominent role in society, it can have a large impact on how many things are viewed. In order to make any big changes, it needs to start in places that will be seen by many—hence the media.

  2. Another movie this stereotype of women competing to get to the top position, would be “Bride Wars.” Two best friends got engaged and plan to be each others’ maid of honor, but then the booking agent at the venue set both of their weddings on the same date. The next available date in June was not until another two years. So, instead of talking it out as friends and making a decision on who is going to give up her date, the women play tricks on each other and humiliate the other on their wedding days. In the end, the two friends make-up and realize they could have just been civil with each other instead of demeaning. Nevertheless, this shows women tearing each other down to reach an end goal.
    I read the Forbes article discussing the importance of building a support group, and developing actual relationships rather than just a surface level, one-time transaction exchange relationship. I could relate to this advice, because some of my female classmates and I in the Neuro major have created not just a study group, but also a friend group. We push each other to do better in whatever subject matter we are studying and encourage each other to reach our career and life goals. Thus, I can attest that women helping other women is a positive action. It personally makes me happy, and I have a group of people I can confide and trust in as well.

    Changes I think will benefit in eradicating this stereotype and aid in women helping other women include:
    (1) Not having celebrity housewives’ shows or reality tv that shows grown women acting as children, fighting over stupid materialistic things or trivial matters
    (2) Organizations create mentor programs, where women mentor other women in the profession to allow for more meaningful relationship building and opportunities for collaboration

  3. What other movies can you think of that show the stereotype of women having to compete with other women for an executive position?

    The example that comes to my mind is Blair Waldorf and Serena Van Der Woodsen from Gossip Girl. They were the ideal best friends who managed to overcome any obstacle. Even though there was a lot of drama that revolved around them, their friendship and arguments were relatively realistic and genuine. However, the episode that comes to mind is when they both realize that they want to attend Yale. Instead of working harder to have better grades or necessary tributes to get them into this Ivy League University, they both independently attempt to scheme their way in. Through this, there are many stereotypes that arise:

    1. That women are not smart enough to attend Ivy Leagues, and that they must find alternate ways of getting in.
    2. Beauty/status over brains, as Serena becomes close with the dean due to her extreme wealth and status as an upper east side socialite.

    Although the two women overcame the struggle in the end, it still comes to mind when I think about unrealistic competition that women are portrayed to have.

    What changes do you think should be made so that women will support other women?

    1. I think that “cancel culture” needs to end.
    2. I believe that women need to genuinely want to see other women achieve.
    3. Women should be enlightened on the benefits of supporting other women.
    4. Finally, I think that the accomplishments of women supporting other women should be highlighted and acknowledged so that other women want to do the same. It takes away the competition because then women are not competing with each other. Instead, they are on the same team.

  4. I love that you chose to address this subject as I think it is arguably the most important thing to discuss as it is something that both women and men can actively change. I think this demeaning type of behavior is learned and I do think that the media has a lot to do with it. To add to your point on the degrading behavior that we see in the media when girls are mean to each other and tear each other down, I feel like the girls that are mean are generally the more popular ones, thus allowing girls to associate this negative type of behavior with popularity. I hate that this is what the media is portraying to young minds when we should be flooding young minds with women-positive messages. Another movie which shows the stereotype of women competing with one other for a position is a movie called “Geek Charming” where two girls are competing for the equivalent of Prom Queen and during the process the more popular girl makes fun of and belittles the less popular girl. Also “Camp Rock” is another movie which comes to mind which shows one of the popular, rich campers Tess making fun of Mitchie, whose mom works in the kitchen which pays for her to attend the camp. Tess makes fun of Mitchie the entire movie, however one great part of the movie is that Mitchie finds strength in a group of girls who have her back and support and build her up.

    In tune with this, I love that Forbes says that women are better off when they are collaborating, and I find it very interesting that men weren’t found to benefit from an “inner circle,” however this was found to help women. Having said this, I totally agree, I think there is power in numbers and I think the availability of mentoring, or group talk where women can share their struggles and relate to one another is extremely important. I also think that another change that needs to be made is women changing the idea that if one women succeeds that she is taking that opportunity away from other women, rather the thought needs to be that when one woman succeeds, all women succeed. By one woman succeeding, this is placing a positive message in the heads of everyone in that organization and paving the way for other women to follow.

  5. I feel like the continued perpetuation of gender stereotypes is what is creating such a hostile environment for young women. The movement of women supporting women should not be as monumental as it is because it really should be secondhand nature. However, gendered norms that girls are surrounded with from their childhood have created a divide among women. We read an article in this class that discussed how since boys can pick on girls freely and receive no backlash, girls then turn around and pick on each other. The spite that they feel from being looked down on by boys makes them turn on each other. So, the real root cause of women not supporting each other to begin with goes back to gender stereotypes and gendered norms. Young girls especially feel like they must conform to social equities to “fit in” and it makes them perpetuate the “bitch” stigma put on girls. In order to create more support among girls, it is necessary to have healthy outlets for girls to express their emotions, even from a young age. It is also crucial to teach young boys that they are infact not superior to girls, and a mutual respect is necessary. Employing these ideas at a young age allows children to grow and contemplate these ideas in a positive light, rather than perpetuating stereotypes that they either see at home, in movies or TV shows, or just in the world around them.

  6. This is an important conversation to have. Like you said, it is important and beneficial for women to support other women but, more often than not, women do the opposite. I think because society places these unrealistic, unattainable expectations of perfection on women they bring down and attack other women in order to build themselves up. Gender norms that are socially constructed force women to act in certain ways that can bring other women down along the way.

    In class we talked about the leadership pipeline where women help other women reach the top. I think continuing this is an example of a way that women can support each other rather than tearing each other down. If we help another woman success, it is a win for all women. It will not ruin your career or lessen your chances of success. It helps more women reach top positions rather than keeping them confined to entry level jobs.

    I think another change society can make is getting rid of the stigma that if another woman succeeds it hurts your chances. In fact, I think it is just the opposite. I think if women women help each other reach the top then women will have more opportunities. If we get rid of this harmful stigma I think it would make a lot of progress in stopping competition between women.

    I think an example of a movie that shows women competing with each other for positions is The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl Streep’s character who is the classic mean boss makes Anne Hathaway’s character compete with her co-worker to be her top assistant that gets to go to Paris fashion week with her. She has both of them prove themselves by doing seemingly impossible tasks. Although they are not necessarily competing against each other, the boss forces Anne Hathaway’s character to tell her colleague that she is the one who gets to go to Paris fashion week and not her. Although they are not degrading or trying to out do each other, they are still pinned against each other.

  7. I think this is an incredibly important topic to address, because even now I feel like women do not support women enough. When you mentioned examples in the media of how women are pitted against each other, I immediately thought of Disney Channel, something I, along with so many others, grew up watching. Shows like Hannah Montana or Wizards of Waverly Place, shows that had female protagonists, always had several plot lines that involved trying to defeat the “mean girls” or prove that they were better than someone else. Even if characters were meant to be best friends, they almost always had fights that led to them competing against one another. Another example from Disney that comes to mind is High School Musical, in which Sharpay schemes to take down Gabriella so that she gets the star role in the musical, and also is trying to take Troy away from Gabriella. Although Sharpay and Gabriella are both very talented, there is only room for one of them to be a star and therefore they must be enemies.
    Exposure to media that puts women at odds with each other starts at a very young age and I think is something that should be addressed. It suggests that women need to compete with one another in order to succeed, instead of join forces or work together. I personally remember always feeling much more competitive in general against girls than boys and was very quick to compare myself to other girls. I do think part of this behavior stemmed from what I had been watching on t.v. Even when it came to my best friends, I had a mindset that I was somehow in competition with them, and it was hard to celebrate their successes, and instead was resentful that they had achieved something that I hadn’t.
    As much as I hate having had that kind of mindset, I think that it is important to address in order to act against it. Supporting women in their success and helping them to reach their goals is crucial, in my opinion, to normalizing the leadership and success of women. By showing support for women in their careers or any other aspect of their lives, it encourages women to strive for what they want and to feel as if they deserve a place at the top.

  8. I like the post a lot, especially because this is something I have always believed to be true and it has also always bothered me. The movie that immediately came to mind when I was reading this was The Devil Wears Prada. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite movies of all time and I think it actually has a very positive underlying message. However, I think there are many parts to it that are demeaning to women. All of the women in the office compete with one another by tearing each other down, and there boss in particular makes it incredibly difficult for any women to succeed in their jobs because they are seen as never good enough. Anne Hathaway, who plays the main character, is also forced to change her entire appearance in order to be taken seriously in her job. Prior to this, she was made fun of non-stop and ridiculed for not dressing a certain way, not liking fashion, and for even not being a particular size.

    I agree that things need to be changed in order to promote the women supporting women mindset, and I think there are several movies that do in fact do this. However, I do not think Hollywood portrayal is good enough. I think we need to do a better job of supporting girls on a smaller basis, and then having it work its way up to the media. I think it would be beneficial for the media to remote real stories about women supporting other women, because after all a true story is much more empowering than a fictional movie. I think a great place to start is at home and in the classroom. If young girls are shown that the most important thing you could do is be happy for fellow girls who succeed and encourage them to keep succeeding will greatly help end this stereotype that all women are constantly pitted against one another.

  9. After reading the article i agree that reframing the concept of networking, praising others, and putting more of an emphasis on relationships will foster more of a supportive environment, having less of a dog-eat-dog mindset and being jealous and envious of someone’s success. It’s a reciprocal concept, once someone is successful we should praise them and the one who is succeeding should pull others up with them. But because our society is very selfish and driven by competition we strive for success by any means necessary and aren’t willing to help others or we are automatically envious of someone who succeeds because we aren’t experiencing it. Pushing for women to uplift other women is easier said than done, but it will be difficult due to the competitive nature of high paying jobs and positions. Once we have it we don’t want to share it and if we don’t have it we despise the people who do.

  10. This is such an important point to emphasize. Women have been stereotyped (especially in the acting world) as catty people who have it out for each other and will stop at nothing to see the other person fall. So often in so many movie or tv scenarios the main girl will have a rival, but the male lead (with the exception of romantic situations) won’t ever have a rival for his position. Captain of the team? No contest. Lead in the musical? No one is stopping you. But for women, there is always that rival who is equally talented or has special seniority/favoritism. These films emphasize that it is somehow natural for women to drag each other down instead of lifting each other up with good sportsmanship. I think this is quite sad, and contributes to our subconscious need to rise above everyone, even our women equals, and show them (somehow) how much better we are than them, encouraging them to give up. But we really need to band together, because only together will we be able to be recognized as equals, and tearing each other down does nothing to support equality.

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