Why Don’t Women Trust Women?

Why don’t women trust women?

This might seem like a strange question for a registrar’s blog, but it’s a question that I have faced directly three times since the semester started. “Ok! I get it! I’m supposed to pay attention to this problem.” (I’m learning to listen.)

What am I talking about? Three times this September, three women who hold important, managerial positions in our office have had students give them every indication that because they’re a woman the student will not accept their decision. This is not a male chauvinist thing. The students are women too.

The most troubling was one I overheard just three days ago. A female student was speaking to a female manager who’s office is next to mine. The student did not want to take a required class, did not believe she should have to take such a class, and was making a very passionate plea to get out of it. Throughout the conversation, the manager said several times, “This is the policy right here. The Chair of the English department and I have reviewed your situation three times now and we have determined that you are required to take this class.”

The student (remember, she’s a female) responded with, “What? This is a university! Two women can’t sit down and make a decision like this!”

It was all I could do not to poke my head out of my office and snipe back, “Well then, would you prefer to hear it from a man?” I was seething inside but I’ve learned enough about myself that I know when to keep my mouth shut. It would not have helped for me to intervene. I’m a man. It would only have reinforced the girl’s beliefs and worldview.

Three times this month we’ve heard something similar. While we were talking about this two days ago I said, “Sometimes they just have to hear it from a man for them to accept it.” The other women in the office agreed with me. We think it’s stupid. We abhor it. But we can’t control other people’s views, either. So my strategy is to deliberately frustrate these people by doing all I can to ensure that the only people they can get a decision from are female. But maybe I’m being petty and stupid.

I don’t understand you women. What’s up with you? Why can’t you accept decisions from other women? Your “glass ceiling” is self-imposed and it makes me angry because it’s within YOUR control. YOU are enforcing these limits. Why on earth would you do that?


2 thoughts on “Why Don’t Women Trust Women?

  1. HI Grant,
    Great blog post! Here are a theory for you- at least where the church is concerned. We are just entering a period of time where there is a generation in the church growing up with mothers, sisters, other authority figures who are female and have the “authority” to make the final decision. However, this is few and far between across the board. If children and students grow up in an environment where the majority of their social interaction, outside of school, is in the church then they are not receiving regular examples of women in authoritative decision making processes or positions. As I think about my twin daughters I want them to have the opportunity to see both men and women in the decision/discernment making process, functioning in their strengths/gifts, so that they understand the authority that comes with the decision.

    But let’s not put all of this on the church. The reality it that there are few examples of women at the top. Let’s be honest, if the female student wanted to, there is a vice president or president somewhere that they can take their plea to and the likely hood of that person being female is very slim- thus reinforcing the idea that men really have final authority. To take it one step further- when a women is in a position of significant authority it is difficult to function out of their uniqueness (as a women) unless there are other supporting women around them- I heard it said once that they often start to function as sudo-males. However, a women functioning truly out of who she is, in a position of significant leadership is amazing. Carson Pue, President of Arrow Leadership Canada, once said “Things I observe women leaders do more naturally than men. 1) They cancel appointments to get more time alone. 2) They don’t always answer their phone. 3) They know how to say no.” All things that bring leaders strength.

    A quick story- when I was in my final year of my BA I had the opportunity to be part of the presidential leadership team for the student body. Near the end of the year I had a male student come up to me and thank me for letting him watch me lead during the year. He was moved by the uniqueness of seeing how I as a female led and functioned differently then what he had been used to seeing in male leaders. I carry this with me always- giving me courage to live and function out of my uniqueness as a women, not only for the women around me but for the men as well.


    1. Great comment, Erin. And I hope my post draws attention to the self-limiting behaviour so that these women can break free to lead and be decision-makers of importance. You have always had my admiration as a leader.


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