It’s probably no surprise that most of these bullies are men, as a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, an advocacy group, makes clear. But a good 40 percent of bullies are women. And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.
Surprise! Or not. I don't find this at all shocking. Saddening, yes. Shocking, no. Nor do I think we need to hold workshops to keep women from bullying each other specifically. Yes, it'd be great to stop all bullying in the workplace. All of it, meaning the bullying by the men too. But you can't expect women trying to make it to the top in an already hostile workplace to abide by different rules than the men do. And given the backlash of affirmative action and the glass ceiling, it makes perfect sense that women bully each other more than they do men - it's the logical choice to try to take down the weakest of the group who are also seen as your direct competitors. It may not work well for you in the long run. After you eliminate all the other women, you're next (and while the men may be "mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure," are they mowing them down proportionally or actually in equal measure?). Still, in the moment, to get to that next promotion, it's a logical choice. Thinking that women should act differently to help each other out is either naive or paternalistic.
Yet I don't think that bullying is necessary. And I'm glad that in academia in computer science there seems to be a much more cooperative community that happily gives advice at conferences and the like. But perhaps the bullying exists and it's me that's naive.