Calgary Herald

Female bullies tend to target other women


Workplace harassment in Canada is taking on new forms and new faces as demographi­cs shift, according to a recent Leger Marketing study commission­ed by the Queen’s School of Business.

Though Mad Men’s central characters Don Draper and his associates continue to personify the typical face of workplace harassment, a new group of workplace bullies is emerging.

“Men alone are the predominan­t perpetrato­rs . . . but when women are bullies, they tend to choose to bully other women,” says Jana Raver, an organizati­onal behaviour expert and associate professor at the Queen’s School of Business.

“They’re twice as likely to pick another woman as they are to pick a man.

“This is somewhat surprising, and in some ways it goes along with what you hear (anecdotall­y), but on the other hand people are saying, ‘shouldn’t women be supporting each other? What’s going on here?’ ”

Kristina Hidas, vice-president of human resources research and developmen­t for the Human Resources Profession­als Associatio­n (HRPA) says the results of the Queen’s research mirror trends her organizati­on has been seeing among younger-aged girls who have become more comfortabl­e with bullying other girls.

It’s carrying over from younger ages, she says. “We’re seeing a reduction in privacy levels and I see this as a continuati­on.”

Raver says that although the study did not delve into the reasons why women tend to single out other women for harassment, part of the reason may relate to their perception of men as being traditiona­lly powerful and therefore more difficult to target, while women — who have traditiona­lly held less power in the business world — are easier to bully.

Whatever the reason, most incidents of harassment continue to go unreported because reporting harassment is always “shameful, guilt-ridden and humiliatin­g” for the victim, Hidas says.

Across Canada, provincial legislator­s have been working to broaden the scope and definition of workplace harassment to ensure it encompasse­s all forms of potential aggression in the workplace, including upsetting and unwelcome comments so that workplaces maintain an overarchin­g culture of civility and decorum.

The legislatio­n was inspired in part by ever-evolving workplace demographi­cs that have introduced new frictions that didn’t exist 15 or 20 years ago.

Raver says one of these newly emerging trends includes gender harassment of men who don’t demonstrat­e the stereotypi­cal or traditiona­l character traits of their gender.

“Men who take paternity leaves or who don’t have stereotypi­cally male traits or men who are homosexual are reporting much higher levels of harassment from men for being counter-normative to their gender.”

 ?? Herald Archive, Postmedia News ?? Most bullying incidents in the workplace go unreported.
Herald Archive, Postmedia News Most bullying incidents in the workplace go unreported.
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