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The psychological warfare of female social groups

(34 Posts)
boodlekazam Thu 14-Jan-16 11:19:37

I just wondered if anyone else finds the psychological effects of female social groups quite draining?
I've a tendency to keep myself to myself during lunch breaks at work as I just feel mentally drained after a social 'break' in a female dominated staffroom.
There's the leader, the passive aggressive one who makes you feel you need to earn your place in the conversation, the topics of conversation that 'outsiders' can't contribute to unless you're part of the inner circle, the feeling that you need to have earned a speaking slot!
It's lonely, but I find it much easier in the solace of my office at break times. It's actually something that's drained me all my life, social female gatherings are really difficult. I have loads of female friends whom I see a lot on a 1:1 basis, but groups of women just seem to open my eyes to a lot of passive aggression, bragging, side-long glances and frowns battles for attention, easily offended women and put downs.
Anyone else find this?
(Currently sat in my office avoiding the headache of female dominated social interaction!)

RealHuman Thu 14-Jan-16 11:22:22

It's okay to not enjoy certain types of social interaction.

TheSpottedZebra Thu 14-Jan-16 11:23:14


There's loads of anti-women posts to this effect at the moment - some from posters I recognise, others from posters I don't. Odd.

People are people. Most are basically nice. A few aren't.

TheCatsMeow Thu 14-Jan-16 11:23:53

I know what you mean. I like mixed groups

sourpickledqueen Thu 14-Jan-16 11:26:06

^what thespottedzebra said.

FoxInTheDesert Thu 14-Jan-16 11:30:48

I only have female friends and we are often in a group with many present. We never ever have this dynamic in our gatherings. What kind of women do you spend time with?

And to add, I have never had this issue at the work place either. You might roll your eyes at someone but we can't like everyone can we?

BabyGanoush Thu 14-Jan-16 11:33:24

sounds like bad luck, I have worked with and socialised with lots of groups of women, and find them overall quite supportive and friendly.

What is with all the women-bashing threads today?

IcecreamBus Thu 14-Jan-16 11:33:53

I've seen exactly what you describe happen in my last FT job. It was like being at school again (though many of those involved were only a few years out of school, so make of that what you will). I just avoided them where possible.

Shirkingfromhome Thu 14-Jan-16 11:34:05

I've worked in an all-male office and all of the behaviours you have listed occurred there too. I think it's just staff-room politics which occurs generally wherever you get a group of people (who aren't necessarily friends), who are regularly together.

GretchenBeckett Thu 14-Jan-16 11:36:48

When I worked with all women it was the friendliest, most supportive environment I've ever worked it.

Offred Thu 14-Jan-16 11:52:43

I struggle with all one gender social groups but the behaviour you describe sounds like office stuff rather than female stuff.

The problems I have with female groups have been the 'girls night' bitching about men and the requirement to only be interested in 'female' things; hair make up, obsessing over 'getting' men and being trivial.

Problems with male groups have been 'being one of the lads', the 'banter', their poor attitude towards women and their predatory behaviour.

I think when people choose to gender segregate socially then it's a sign they adhere to gender stereotypes and that pisses me off.

I don't think this is the same thing. It's just being an introvert in a group.

antimatter Thu 14-Jan-16 12:16:38

I would say I experienced the same in office environment from both sexes.

IMHO it can be contributed to their feel of being unrecognized in the office for their "greatness". So by putting down others make themselves feel better.

I feel lucky if I make 1 good friend in any place I used to work in.

FannyTheChampionOfTheWorld Thu 14-Jan-16 12:56:42

Nah. That's a your office problem not a female problem.

Joysmum Thu 14-Jan-16 17:03:46

I found exactly the same thing in all 3 office environments I worked in. I prefer mixed or all male groups and always left the building at lunch time.

JessicaJones Thu 14-Jan-16 17:11:40

I find groups of people difficult, but I'm fully aware that it is my issue, and not the intrinsic nature of groups of women. For example, I find it difficult to know when to talk when a group conversation is happening, but I don't believe I am being deliberately excluded. I think you might be happier understanding your own dynamics in a group setting, without deciding that there is psychological warfare going on.

DrMorbius Thu 14-Jan-16 19:17:36

Possibly your problem is exacerbated if you work in a school. In my experience (2 kids now at uni) teachers are often a bunch of immature, educated half-adults.

Obviously they are not all like that, but most I have met are. I guess it's because they never get out of school and experience working in an adult environment.

The experience you describe sounds like these half child/ half adults I have met.

lazymoz Thu 14-Jan-16 19:25:51

I don't have this experience at work and I work in a very large building with a lot of tea rooms, I have not encountered this in any of them. I agree it sounds like your workplace is the issue

boodlekazam Thu 14-Jan-16 19:42:20

Yes Morbius you are correct. I work in a school. Luckily I have an office to escape to. You are not the only person to have pointed out that some teachers never leave school themselves.
I can honestly say that it is most definitely the females within my workplace who cause the awkward dynamic. It's been pointed out by many people. The males are generally approachable inclusive and considerate. Definitely a work place issue, but one dominated by the females.

RainbowInACloud Thu 14-Jan-16 19:45:55

I love being in groups of women. Find it more interesting, fun and generally easier. I currently work in a more male dominant office and find it much more aggro/ less supportive and chatty generally.

pocketsaviour Thu 14-Jan-16 20:09:36

It was pretty obvious you work at a school OP when you called it "the staffroom" grin

I would have to say I find groups of men generally easier to talk to than groups of women, but only insofar as I'm able to make gender-stereotypical small talk about things that men are interested in. Cars, football, music, films, working out. Not that I'm particularly knowledgable about any of those things, but I know enough to feel like I can contribute to the conversation and give my opinion. If a group of women stick to "girly" stuff like makeup, fashion and "celeb gossip", I'm totally out of my depth.

However, it totally depends on the environment you're in and the type of people who gravitate towards that job. I now work in an analytical type position and most people I work with are fairly geeky, somewhat socially awkward but generally good natured types. I find it much easier to have a conversation with fellow geeks, no matter the subject!

boodlekazam Thu 14-Jan-16 21:24:58

Working with socially awkward geeks sounds right up my street! Any vacancies?

marzipanmaggie Thu 14-Jan-16 21:31:56

I don't think this is woman-bashing... I wouldn't go as far as the OP as I do love my women friends and I have all woman friendship groups which I find very sustaining, but I do recognise some of this.

I think there can be a certain dynamic in all female friendship groupings which can be rather draining and where you do get people playing their designated "roles" to a rather depressing and predictable degree. Maybe you have it in all male groupings too but by definition I'm not part of any all male groupings. I think spending all your time exclusively with just one sex is not massively healthy. I'm very glad I don't work in an environment dominated by either sex.

KittyWindbag Fri 15-Jan-16 07:58:03

I'm not going to say that this is a typical female social group problem, because I don't think it is. I've had some of the best experiences working with all female groups and also some of the worst.

I think what it really boils down to is that there are certain individuals who have the power to bend some social situations to their liking, thus creating an uncomfortable environment for others. It's a power play, men and women do it, it's like 'negging'.

Here it sounds like you've picked out this 'passive-aggressive leader', she's probably a bit of a manipulator and likes to maintain her position by using exclusion tactics. I quit a job when I was younger because of an older woman in my office who used to subtly bully people in this way. I like to think if I had to do it again I would politely but firmly address her sneaky behaviour head-on. But I was 17 and too shy sad

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Fri 15-Jan-16 08:16:44

I avoid this sort of thing by being an agency worker. Seriously, my current client used to be a former employer. On PAYE, it was a snakepit. Now, I'm just a professional who can't be made to take sides. It's a mostly male workplace in my case.

nauticant Fri 15-Jan-16 09:01:56

It's interesting that Mumsnet has coined verb to Wendy to describe aspects of this. Years of discussing this with male friends makes me wonder whether Wendying happens less frequently among groups of men.

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