A bit of friendly competition

December 3, 2002

Chances are, if you’re a woman who engages in society (read: leaves the house), you’re competitive.

Chances are you’ve felt like your female boss kicked the ladder out from beneath her just when you took the first step to follow her. And no doubt you’ve sized up a fellow female as she enters the room, new to the job. Or picked holes in that gorgeous woman with better legs than you who’s dating the cute creative guy.

Not that you’ll admit it.

Comedic author Rachael Oakes-Ash (Good Girls Do Swallow) believes so strongly that the “taboo topic of female competition” is stopping the fairer race “taking over the world” that she’s writing a book on it.

In the soon-to-be published Anything She Can Do I Can Do Better, Rachael looks at female competition – what it is, where you find it and how to bring it out in the open in order to work better in the office and play better after work.

For her book, Rachael “went to the UK to interview a gathering of high-profile women about female competition”. “It was actually really hard to find women who would actually come out and talk about female competition,” she says. “Competitive equals aggressive equals biting bitch equals slut equals unfeminine.”

“But we all do it”, Rachael says. “We all put other women down (in our minds, verbally to other women or colleagues) to make ourselves feel better. And the sooner we realise this and bring the competition out into the open, the sooner we’ll be more effective in the workplace,” Rachael advises.

“Recently Today FM had a segment on confessions – a girl called in and confessed to her best friend that she had not only applied for the same job, but she had actually got the job,” she says. The friend hung up. It was as though the caller had “stolen” the job, when in fact, Rachael points out, “it was no-one’s job in the first place”.

“Why couldn’t the woman be more open about it and say ‘look, that sounds like a fantastic job and I think I’d really like to go for it too, so let’s just throw it into the open and both go for it, see what happens and separate this from our friendship,” Rachael says.

“When it comes to conflict, women recreate what happens in the school yard – they get other women on side, bitch and wouldn’t be seen dead with the ‘other woman’ having drinks after work,” she says.

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