She-crabs in barrelsMonday, September 16, 2019
BY PENDA HONEYGHAN
WOMEN competing with women is not a new phenomenon — historically women have tried to prove their superiority in their efforts to score points. However, we have seen where this competitiveness has metamorphosed into what is called a crab-in-barrel syndrome, spanning various aspects of life, including areas of education and the workplace.
The crab's attempt to escape entrapment is usually quickly obstructed by one or a group of crabs that pull it back into the barrel, ultimately leading to the group's collective demise. These actions are synonymous with the way of thinking of some people who believe that if they can't have it, then you shouldn't either.
Can you say that you have never had to unscrew another woman's bulb in order to shine? Below, some women recount painful incidences in which their female counterparts tried to sabotage them to get ahead.
Francine, 34, marketing specialist:
The crab-in-barrel mentality is real. I had a co-worker try to take credit for my ideas. She was my supervisor at the time and so when it was time to discuss project ideas she passed my idea off to the boss as her own without giving credit to me. I didn't know she did so until I heard the boss commending her for the idea. I decided to pull back from the project and allow her to do what she said was her brainchild. The long and short of it was, she could not execute my idea the way I envisioned it and so the project was a complete failure.
Latesha, 32, business development officer:
My supervisor was going on leave and she was told to suggest persons from her department to act in the capacity until she returned. She didn't put my name as a suggestion because she said I was a “young bud”; however, having performed exceptionally well in my two-year period of employment, the boss and his team suggested that I take the role. My supervisor gave several reasons why I was not fit for the position, including that the way I dressed was not in line with what the company represented, and that no one would take me seriously. When she realised that I was not only shortlisted but eventually chosen, she went to the boss on two separate occasions to point out that I had been late before, and was unfit and incapable of leading the department in her absence. My boss and his team did not agree with her, even though she was insistent. Then she started office gossip alleging that the boss and/or one of the partners must have been romantically involved with me.
Asia, 30, soldier:
I am a private in the US Army. I'm going back to school so that I can get a better score to apply for a promotion and my sergeant — a black girl — is trying to hold me back, maybe because she thinks I'm going to reach further than her. She is refusing to sign off on paperwork for exemption from duty, sabotaging shifts, and packing on workload as well as telling other sergeants that I am not as good a soldier as everyone else is claiming that I am.
Marsha, 35, family therapist:
I was fresh out of university and just in time to find a job that was advertised. The position was a clear vacancy; the lady who previously occupied the position had migrated. Her best friend was still working at the institution and served in a senior position. When I assumed the role at the institution I was getting bad vibes and the cold shoulder from her but didn't give it much energy. She was asking personal questions and at the same time was criticising everything that I did — from my management of childcare and other related affairs to the execution of events for which I'd actually got high commendation. It turns out that she was trying not just to tear me down personally, but to distract me from doing a good job and of course emphasising small mishaps because she wanted another person to get the position.
Jilleen, 40, community health aid nurse:
A few years ago I was working for a security company with a friend. I didn't have any certification, but she had a few certificates in marketing. Anyway, one of the bosses came and loved my vibe and how I was selling the company to some young men who were seeking jobs. I am not dunce, I just didn't have the money to further my education after finishing high school. He realised that I could communicate well enough and told me he was going to promote me to marketing officer — so of course more pay and more benefits would come, and I would only work nine to five. My friend started arguing that she had the qualifications and I'd stopped studying after high school, and the boss had promised to move her up and so on. Anyway, the next day the boss called me into his office to ask me if I had notified them of guards sleeping on the night shift when supervisors were going to make checks. I immediately knew that it was her at work, and so even though the boss was just going to suspend me, I handed in my resignation letter two days later. I wasn't going to let anyone kill me and leave my children [without a mother] over a job. By the way, she is still working as a security guard.
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