Competitive workplaces hold women back, reveals UCL School of Management

Fear in the Office, competitive workplaceCompetitive workplaces could hold women back in their careers, according to new research from UCL School of Management.

The research suggested that women take competition with other women at work too seriously. Assistant Professor Sun Young Lee who conducted the study, found that women experience competition with same-gender co-workers more negatively than men do because female peer culture values harmony and equality, and competition is at odds with the norm of female relationships.

The study suggested that the majority of women would struggle to interact with female co-workers, becoming overly cutthroat and mean, which can restrict their career progression. It also found that men found hierarchical ranking and competition natural and were less likely to suffer from competitive workplaces.

Dr Lee said, “As a woman who has worked across the world, I’ve long observed that women take competition with other women much more personally than men take competition with other men. My research provides support to such an observation.”

“Bosses need to be aware that competitive career structures that are effective to men may be detrimental to women. At the same time, women should be aware that taking competition too seriously could be holding them back from leadership positions.”

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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