How to Explain the Rivalries Among Women

This article appeared in The New York Times Letters section on Nov. 9, 2015.

To the Editor:

In “Why Women Compete With Each Other” (Sunday Review, Nov. 1), Emily V. Gordon reaches into her personal history to propose that competing with other women and undermining them comes naturally.

Certainly, even as successful, professional grown-ups, we’ve run into women like that. It’s a glass-slipper syndrome: If there is only one foot in all the land that can fit into the shoe, allowing its owner to become princess, then all other feet just get in the way.

With relatively few women in top executive positions, is there room for one more? Or can I secure my success only by hoping that other women fail?

After observing women I work with in a leadership initiative for the supply-chain profession, I’ll give you good news. There are two antidotes to women stomping on other women. One is an individual’s own excellence, made up of education, competence and confidence. And the other is being part of a network.

Connections with peers — other female leaders, especially in traditionally male fields — turn the focus from competing with one another to supporting one another. There is room for many more of us at the top!